Six major health systems that serve metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia have unified to address the public regarding the latest COVID-19 impacts and the result of the rapid spread of the Delta and Omicron variants.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, Northeast Georgia Health System, Piedmont Healthcare and Wellstar Health System are once again experiencing a staggering surge in adults and children with COVID-19 symptoms and diagnoses. Collectively, the healthcare systems have experienced 100–200% increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past eight days and the vast majority of inpatients are unvaccinated. This comes at a time when the health systems are preparing for an influx of patients with seasonal flu.
Emergency room activity has also increased significantly for both emergent and non-emergent situations, including those seeking COVID-19 testing without the need for further care or treatment. To keep emergency rooms available to individuals who have the most critical health needs, individuals should obtain care at the most appropriate medical facility for their condition and seek COVID-19 testing at primary care locations, public health and mass testing sites or use at-home testing kits.
While hospitals in metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia have best practices in place to actively manage capacity and provide high-quality patient care, we need the public’s help and support. Doing the following will help us all navigate this significant wave, minimize serious illness and hospitalizations from COVID, and better manage emergency room diversions and wait times at our facilities:
- Get fully vaccinated for COVID-19, obtain the COVID-19 booster when eligible and get the seasonal flu vaccine.
- Go to the most appropriate medical facility for your condition when you require care — and do not delay care if you are in need of immediate medical attention.
- Please remember that emergency rooms are for those seeking examination and treatment for medical emergencies, not for routine COVID-19 testing or mild symptoms.
- Please only call 911 with a true emergency. Local 911 operators and EMTs are overwhelmed with calls, so if there is not a real emergency, please call your medical provider for guidance.
- Use at-home testing kits, public health testing locations or independent testing facilities if you need to be tested for COVID-19 unless you are ill and need medical care.
- For routine COVID-19 tests, you can find a location near you on the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) website at: dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting.
- Consult your provider for appropriate treatment options if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Continue to actively follow CDC and DPH guidelines, and practice the “3 Ws” safety measures — wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.
- Anticipate increased wait times for medical services. Due to the influx of patients and increased demands placed on our health care workforce, we ask everyone who enters our facilities to practice patience and kindness with each other and with our care team members who are providing expert, compassionate care.
The health and safety of our patients and communities remains our top priority. The six metro Atlanta health care systems will continue to work together to educate and inform the public regarding COVID-19 and address the most critical health needs impacting our area. We also would like to express our appreciation to the Governor for his support of our workforce and the newly announced funding to address staffing shortages at hospitals across the state due to COVID-19, and to the Georgia Department of Public Health for continued outreach to the public regarding issues affecting our patients, care team members and community.