By Andy Miller, Georgia Health News
The state has broken its record for COVID-19 patient hospitalizations, and has reached 5,880, a Public Health spokeswoman said earlier this week.
The previous mark was set on Jan. 12 at 5,814 hospitalized virus patients during the third COVID-19 surge, according to Nancy Nydam, the spokeswoman. (The agency’s website Tuesday shows a lower hospitalization figure.)
Meanwhile, several other figures reported Tuesday pointed to the devastation caused by the Delta variant, the highly contagious strain now linked to 100 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state.
State Public Health officials reported a single-day total of 10,798 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, along with 86 deaths.
Georgia has the sixth-highest per capita infection rate over the past week, behind other Southeastern states – Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.
More than 40 hospital ERs in Georgia reported severe crowding Tuesday.
And deaths mounted in the southwestern part of the state.
“We learned early in the pandemic that a spike in COVID hospitalizations is typically followed by a spike in deaths, two to three weeks late,’’ Scott Steiner, CEO of Albany-based Phoebe Putney Health System, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that is what we are seeing now. Just since Friday, we have lost 24 patients, including nine yesterday. We grieve with these families, and we ask our community to keep them and our care teams in your prayers.”
In northwest Georgia, a 13-year-old Coosa High School student died Tuesday morning at a local hospital, according to Floyd County Coroner Gene Proctor. The coroner listed the boy’s cause of death as respiratory failure due to a COVID-19 infection, the Rome News-Tribune reported.
The teenager was found at home, not breathing. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Proctor said he broke the news of the death to the young man’s family, some of whom were themselves recovering from the disease.
In Gainesville, two critical care nurses at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Amber Rampy and Kelly LaCerra, spoke about the stress on hospital staff.
On Monday, there were 284 COVID-19 positive patients in the health system, which serves much of northeast Georgia. One month ago there were 91, and on June 30 there were just 17 such patients, the Gainesville Times reported.
“This is way worse than last year, way worse,” LaCerra said.
Amber Schmidtke, a microbiologist who tracks COVID-19 in Georgia, said Tuesday that “this is the worst of the pandemic so far, which is tragic considering we have safe and effective vaccines that could prevent this.”