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'It really feels like déjà vu' | Georgia hospitalizations increasing rapidly due to COVID-19

Hospital staff say they're preparing for a fourth wave in the fight against COVID-19.

ATLANTA — COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to rise rapidly in Georgia at a rate that the state hasn't seen in months.

As of Thursday, 17% of all hospital patients statewide are suffering from COVID-19.

Anything at 20% or more is considered a dangerous situation for hospitals. So, with the state just shy of that number by 3%, it means hospitals across Georgia are already seeing, or on the cusp of seeing, a possible strain on beds, equipment, and even staff.

"It really feels like déjà vu, like over again," said the Chief of Medical Staff for the North Georgia Health System, Dr. Deepak Aggarwal.

Aggarwal said medical professionals have to work together as they prepare for a fourth wave.

"Our health care workers, our staff is tired. I think now we have to rally together as we take care of our patient," Aggarwal added.

As of Thursday, Georgia has more than 2,800 patients in its hospital suffering from COVID-19, which makes up 17% of all hospital patients. It  brings the state's weekly average to 2,300.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, four hospital regions are already considered strained by COVID-19 patients. 

The graphic below highlights some of the regions to show their percentage of patients with COVID-19.

In the metro Atlanta area, Fulton, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties' numbers are relatively low at 13%. As of Wednesday, those three counties had vaccination rates above the state's average for people who are fully vaccinated. More than half of eligible Georgians still have yet to get a single dose.

As of Thursday, 25 hospitals across the state are no longer accepting patients via ambulances to their ERs and/or ICUs according to the Georgia Coordinating Center. Five of those hospitals are in Fulton County.