Georgia sets new high for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The number of COVID-19 patients in Georgia hospitals remains above 6,000, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

The Peach State reported 5,203 new cases and 41 confirmed deaths Wednesday.

Meanwhile, South Carolina 2,997 new cases and 25 deaths blamed on COVID.

The statistics come as national figures reflect that more than 40 million people in the country have had coronavirus.

More than 4 million of those cases were reported in the last four weeks alone.

While this number represents officially reported positive test results, many experts believe the real number of infections is much larger.

How hospitals are handling the crisis

The current surge that’s driven by the highly contagious delta variant of the virus continues to flood local hospitals with inpatients, most of them unvaccinated.

Here’s a look at the inpatient figures from Wednesday:

  • University Hospital: 157 COVID inpatients, down 10 from Tuesday. Of the inpatients, 137 unvaccinated. Of the 26 in intensive care and 23 on ventilators, all but one are unvaccinated.
  • Doctors Hospital: 81 inpatients, unchanged from Tuesday.
  • Augusta University Health: 128 inpatients, of whom 120 are unvaccinated. Of the 54 in intensive care and 45 on ventilators, none are vaccinated. Three of AU Health’s inpatients are children.
  • Aiken Regional Medical Center: 47 inpatients, 44 of whom are unvaccinated. The hospital has 12 COVID patients in intensive care.
  • Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center: 17 inpatients, up one from Tuesday. The hospital has eight patients in intensive care.

Schools continue to cope

The public health director for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is releasing new guidance for schools amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“These are not requirements,” Dr. Brannon Traxler said. “They are guidelines and recommendations that could better assist our school officials who continue to be challenged with making really difficult decisions, but who we know are acting in the best interest of protecting the health of their students, their students’ families and their dedicated teachers and staff.”

According to the new guidance, districts should consider going temporarily virtual in the following scenarios:

  • The school is unable to maintain operations with current staffing as determined by the school district;
  • 30% or higher rate of absenteeism in the school or grade level because of COVID (including students in isolation or quarantine);
  • 5-10% or higher of the student body in isolation simultaneously after testing positive or being assumed positive;
  • When discussed with and recommended by local medical and public health professionals based on the area healthcare system’s capacity.

Meanwhile, the latest statistics show nearly 22 percent of the student population in the Aiken County school district is quarantined. That’s up from 17 percent last week.

The figures show 350 students, 1.52 percent, are currently positive for coronavirus, as are 29 employees, 0.86 percent.

Nearly all Aiken County schools are reporting some level of COVID infection among students. At the top are some of the high schools, with 41 positive students at Midland Valley High and 40 at South Aiken High.

At Aiken Intermediate School, 63 percent of the student population is in quarantine, with 11 positive students. Also in that category is New Ellenton Middle School, where 56 percent of the student population is in quarantine, with 16 positive students.

The district is mourning the loss of students who recently passed from COVID: Emily Brosnahan from Aiken High School and Ethan Blue from North Augusta Elementary School.

Those students, as well as a late employee and two bereaved employees, were remembered in a moment of silence Tuesday at an Aiken County school board meeting.

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