“Even for as grim as the statistics look, people need to understand that it is happening right in our families, it’s happening in our communities and it’s just a matter of days,” Bottoms said. “This is not to alarm people, but it is to stress to people that this is real. The thing we can do, Victor, is stay at home.
“We are not asking people to pick up arms and go to war, people aren’t fleeing famine, we’re asking you to stay at home,” she said. “Stay in the comfort of your home. It’s a simple request so that people can have an opportunity to simply live.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported Saturday at noon, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus is now 2,366 statewide. The death toll, meanwhile, grew to 69 from 65 on Friday.
An electronic sign directs motorists to the emergency room at Grady Memorial Hospital on Monday. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
Bottoms said many medical workers, including friends of hers, are afraid. In normal times, the services of the city’s hospitals and ICU beds “are at a premium,” Bottoms said, and COVID-19 is putting strain on the city’s health care network.
“Just a few days ago, the anecdotal information I received was that our major hospital, Grady (Memorial) Hospital, was at about 90 percent capacity,” she said. “What people have to realize is strokes don’t stop, diabetes and these things that send people into our emergency rooms, these things continue.”
Bottoms said models predict the city will exceed its hospital capacity on May 3. Asked what Atlanta is doing to increase hospital capacity, Bottoms said she is working with the state and Kemp’s office to scout locations to create more hospital beds.
On Friday, Bottoms amended parts of her executive order, adding exceptions for the operations of landscapers and print shops and clarifying that package stores, bike shops and the insurance industry also are exempt.
A spokesman for Bottoms said Saturday the changes to the executive order are not to be seen as relaxations of the order but serve to clarify after concerns were raised by the public. For instance, hospitals, businesses and government continue to need the services of print shops and many package stores sell products beyond alcoholic beverages.
The inclusion of landscaping is intended to help people suffering from allergy season.