National Guard medics deployed to aid Piedmont Fayette Hospital as Covid surges locally and statewide

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2-week infections rise in Fayette to 650, daily number approaching winter surge level — 

If you see Georgia National Guard uniforms around Piedmont Fayette Hospital in coming days, be reassured: They’re there to provide extra medical aid to a Covid-slammed emergency department.

The Fayetteville hospital is one of 10 across Georgia set to receive the uniformed help, according to Gov. Brian Kemp.

The local hospital’s emergency department is listed as of the evening of Aug. 24 as being in “total diversion” — meaning ambulances are told to go to another hospital — with the status of the department as “severely overcrowded.”

The progression of new case numbers began in Fayette around the week of July 4. At that time, the 2-week new cases number was in the low double digits. By the end of July, 2-week case numbers passed 100. The numbers were over 200 by Aug. 6, over 300 by Aug. 11, over 400 by Aug. 16, over 500 by Aug. 19, and are over 600 as of Aug. 23.

As of Aug. 24, the 2-week case number was 650, and the percentage of new infections in 2 weeks had risen to 5.4%, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

That’s still the second lowest 2-week infection rate in Georgia, but it has risen to 5.4% today from 0.2% since July 1, DPH reported. For comparison, the 2-week rate in neighboring Coweta is 21.6% and 16.9% statewide.

Graphs from DPH above show an important statistic:  31.4% of all hospital patients are being treated for Covid, the highest that number has been since January 2021 at the peak of the winter surge. Other charts below show statewide ICU hospital beds in use, the daily number of Covid cases for the state and for Fayette County, and the Covid vaccination numbers.

Here are the Covid numbers for Aug. 24:

Statewide cases (since March 2020) — 1,041,512, an increase of 5,208 cases over the previous day.

Statewide deaths (since March 2020) — 19,275 fatalities, 32 more than the previous day.

Statewide hospitalizations — 375, 32 of them in ICUs.

Fayette new cases increased by 47 over the previous day to 7,909, Fayette hospitalizations by 7, and Fayette deaths by 1. The local death toll now stands at 165 for the entire pandemic, with another 16 fatalities listed as “probable” Covid cases, according to DPH.

The Fayette County School System officially went to mandatory masks for all 24 schools as of Aug. 24. The decision was based on a 1% trigger point of total cases among staff and students systemwide. The mask mandate will last through Sept. 17, the system said.

Gov. Kemp on Tuesday announced deployment of over 100 National Guard personnel to 10 hospitals across Georgia. 

“The Georgia National Guard, in coordination with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Community Health, will deploy 105 personnel to hospitals throughout the state. These trained medical personnel will assist staff at the following hospitals:

• Southeast Georgia Health System, Brunswick

• Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville

• Wellstar Kennestone, Marietta

• Piedmont Henry, Stockbridge

• Phoebe Putney, Albany

• Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah

• Navicent Health, Macon

• Grady Hospital, Atlanta

• Piedmont Fayette, Fayetteville

• Houston Medical Center, Warner Robins

“These guardsmen will assist our frontline healthcare workers as they provide quality medical care during the current increase in cases and hospitalizations, and I greatly appreciate General Carden and his team for their willingness to answer the call again in our fight against Covid-19,” said Gov. Kemp.

“This Georgia National Guard mission is in addition to the 2,800 state-supported staff and 450 new beds brought online I announced last week, at a total state investment of $625 million through December of this year. I continue to urge all Georgians to talk to a medical professional about getting vaccinated,” Kemp said.