Hospital beds filling up, and experts say public must help slow virus

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 5:14 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We saw record setting days in Georgia and South Carolina for COVID-19 cases this past weekend. And it got us wondering, was more dangerous to be out now than when we were on lockdown several months ago?

South Carolina hit new records with its number of daily new cases this weekend. There were another 1,500 positive cases of coronavirus in South Carolina, with 13 new deaths including four from Orangeburg.

Georgia's growth is not far behind, with roughly 3,600 cases in the last 24 hours, and 25 people died.

[MORE: By the numbers: Coronavirus in the CSRA]

Right now, only two COVID-19 ICU beds are left at Augusta University. While they do have a plan to keep treating for the virus in-house, they say, the public needs to do their part on the outside.

“When you see how sick these patients are, certainly them, nor their families, would say that this is a hoax,” Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer at AU Health, said.

Is it more dangerous to go out and about now than it was when were in lockdown?

“Yes. It is,” Coule said. “We’re getting to the point of reaching ICU capacity "

“We have a plan in place where we could go to 100 ICU beds if necessary. Of course, we would have to look at what else we displace,” Coule explained.

The deal is the same across the river.

“Every facility in the state of South Carolina and Georgia needs to be concerned about bed space,” Bridget Denzik, chief nursing officer of Aiken Regional Medical Center, said.

It is true. The rate of new cases is rising much faster than the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

“I think part of the reason that we are seeing a lot more positives is that we are doing a lot more testing. So, it goes hand-in-hand,” Denzik said.

But both experts agree, statistics like the low death rate may change, if we don't change our risky behavior.

“If we get to the point where we overload the healthcare systems and we don’t have enough of those supplies, we don’t have enough beds, we don’t enough of everything else -- then that mortality rate will likely climb because we’re not able to maintain such a high level of care,” Coule said.

Coule says, even though these numbers are scary, he doesn’t think we need another lockdown. He says the rates can be controlled if people just wear masks, social distance and wash their hands.

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