ATLANTA – Governor Brian Kemp announced the state will increase the total number of supported staff in hospitals to 2,800 from the original 1,300.
Across the state, hospitals told the governor’s office that they needed more staff to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients as well as other patients.
Through October 2021, Georgia had committed $500 million for 1,300 state-supported staff in hospitals across the staff. The increase to 2,800 doubles staffing assistance and another $125 million. The existing contract will be extended as well.
170 staff will go to rural hospitals. Another 450 beds at nine regional facilities have been identified to treat patients statewide.
Kemp encouraged the unvaccinated to talk with their medical care professional and those they trust about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This safe, effective vaccine will reduce the likelihood of you get infected with COVID-19, but more importantly it drastically reduces the chances of you ending up in a hospital bed or losing your life,” Kemp stated.
90 percent of hospitalizations in Georgia for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Georgia’s only 41 percent fully vaccinated with the majority of counties falling into the 30 percentile range for vaccinations.
Department of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Kathleen Toomey explained that 90 percent of the new cases are the Delta Variant. It transmits extremely quickly from person to person and more younger individuals are being diagnosed with COVID-19 than before.
Toomey believes the going to vaccine clinics won’t convince someone to receive the shot, but encouragement from family, friends, and doctors.
DPH will continue to hold vaccination events throughout the state at places like farmer’s markets and festivals so unvaccinated don’t have to take time out of their day. The goal is to make it easy for people.
Increased COVID-19 testing from DPH is also on the way. The positivity rate in Georgia is around 17 percent and DPH will be partnering with hospitals to try and prevent overwhelming the system.
The new testing site and plan rollout should become known by the end of the week.
Kemp urged the FDA to fully approve the COVID-19 vaccine to help alleviate the fears of the unvaccinated about getting the shot. The emergency use authorization status of the COVID-19 vaccine has prevented many from being vaccinated.
State employees are encouraged to get vaccinated
Friday, September 3, state government offices will be closed, and all state employees are encouraged to get the vaccine before or on September 3. Kemp added those employees who received the vaccine beforehand to take the day off as a thank you.
“I don’t think mandates in general work. I think at this point if anybody out there trusts the government, it’s probably not many people,” Kemp explained. “There’s misinformation out there.”
He added the South is experiencing vaccine hesitancy, and Georgia’s seeing it across the state.
If state employees don’t get the vaccine, they won’t experience any consequences. Kemp hopes they will get vaccinated for themselves, their families, and to help hospitals.
Kemp stated he’s supporting superintendents and districts to make good decisions at the local level.
“I don’t think any more guidance or any restrictions…I actually think that would be counter-productive,” Kemp said. “I’m very confident they know how to deal with any issues.”