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Saturday August 13th, 2022 5:15AM

Top doctors ask public for help in easing spread of COVID

By Mitch Clarke Director of News and Content

Doctors from some of Georgia's biggest hospital systems are urging people to get coronavirus vaccines and take other steps to protect themselves so hospitals are overrun.

Because of the large number of patients and a shortage of nurses and other staff, some hospitals can only provide care to the sickest patients. The doctors said all Georgians who are eligible should get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks indoors, avoid large gatherings and follow other public health guidelines.

The state's largest hospital, Grady Hospital in Atlanta, is at 110 percent of patient capacity, in large part because of so many COVID patients.

"We have no capacity left in the hospital," Dr. Robert Jansen, Grady's chief medical officer, said. He said Grady has had to divert ambulances to other hospitals several times because the hospital's emergency room was full.

During a 60-minute briefing, doctors from six health systems, including Northeast Georgia Medical Center, spoke about the need to bring the virus under control. The other systems were Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Piedmont, Wellstar and Grady.

"After two years of this pandemic, people are tired of hearing the word COVID," Dr. Supriya Mannepalli, NGHS's medical director for infectious diseases. " We need to continue to reinforce that message that we’re still in it."

Mannepalli said the vaccine is still the best way to avoid serious illness from COVID, and they significantly reduce hospitalizations and death.

The vaccines have been challenged by the omicron variant, but they remain a success," said Dr. Jayne Morgan of Piedmont Healthcare.

"These vaccines have still by and large have kept us out of the hospital and out of the morgue,” she said.

The doctors also addressed misinformation that the omicron variant isn't serious and people who contract it won't go to the hospital.

"Perhaps it isn’t for some folks who are lucky," said Jansen. "But COVID-19 is having a tremendous impact on underlying disease. For those patients who are immunocompromised, if they get infected, they get incredibly sick.”

Morgan said she's heard of people who are seeking to deliberately contract COVID. She called that a "terrible idea." Because hospitals are rationing care, someone who deliberated catches the virus might not get the care they need if they get sick.

Breakthrough infections are on the rise, but nearly all of new infections also are from unvaccinated individuals. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported about 280,000 breakthrough infections in 2021. Of those, less than 3 percent were hospitalized and 0.5 percent died.

 

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Top doctors ask public for help in easing spread of COVID
Doctors from some of Georgia's biggest hospital systems are urging people to get coronavirus vaccines and take other steps to protect themselves so hospitals are overrun.
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