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Gov. Kemp Addresses Hospital Staffing Shortages, Vaccine Hesitancy

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Governor Brian Kemp is laying out additional steps to help Georgia hospitals and encouraging state employees and the public to get vaccinated. This comes as Georgia health officials say ICUs and emergency departments are overwhelmed by COVID Delta variant patients.

Urgent care centers, like Peachtree Immediate Care, are feeling the impact of the Delta surge. "The centers are overwhelmed with patients right now. Some of the centers run an hour or two hour waits to get somebody in to get them tested," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Yost. "We're seeing it impact vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and we've had some of our staff get COVID also, and their wearing their masks, and they're vaccinated as well."

Some patients are referred to hospitals that are already overcrowded. Governor Brian Kemp announced plans to address the issue during a Monday afternoon press conference. "Through October of this year, the state coordinating through the Department of Community Health has already committed $500 million to provide 1,300 staff on an ongoing basis to 68 hospitals across our state," he said. They're now adding $125 million to increase the number of staff to 2,800. "Commissioner Noggle and her team have also identified 450 beds in nine regional coordinating hospitals that will soon be available to treat patients," said Kemp.

Vaccine hesitancy is still an issue, as the number of cases increases and impacts younger people. "About 90% are Delta variant," said Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey. "It's making a beeline for unvaccinated individuals. The good news is, the vaccines do work."

Kemp says state employees will get the day off on September 3, and he is urging them to get vaccinated on or before that date. "I want to continue to encourage unvaccinated individuals to talk to their medical professionals," he said. Health officials say they plan to ramp up covid testing as well. "Opening up drive-thru testing sites is really going to be our solution within our network to help accommodate a lot of this volume," Yost said.

Dr. Yost also says, if you feel like you have COVID symptoms, you should isolate for 10 full days or get tested.

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