Georgia Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey speaks at a press conference on Jan. 21 at the State Capitol.

Gov. Brian Kemp said during a Jan. 21 press conference that Georgia’s hospitals cannot handle another surge in COVID-19 patients.

The sobering assessment comes as the state awaits an increase in the allocation of vaccine doses from the federal government.

“The virus could kill you or put you in the hospital before you can get the vaccine,” Kemp warned, and encouraged residents to wash their hands, social distance, and wear a mask.

Kmep said hospitals are using emergency capacity and 60-bed field hospital reopened at the Georgia World Congress Center in Downtown is almost at capacity.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said the more contagious variant first identified in the United Kingdom would make fighting the disease and even bigger challenge. There are now five reported cases of the variant in Georgia, she said.

Kemp said the number of hospitalizations stands at 5,332, which is very high but the lowest reported in two weeks. He said the number of positive cases in Georgia is still higher than last summer’s surge, but it appeared that the surges seen after Thanksgiving and Christmas were on the wane.

As of Jan. 20, more than 535,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered in the state. The current allocation for Georgia is 120,000 doses, but 40,000 of those had been automatically going to CVS and Walgreen pharmacies to inoculate nursing home patients and staff. With both pharmacies reporting they have adequate supply to finish those inoculations, that will free up an additional 40,000 doses next week.

Kemp said there is no plan to expand the criteria for who can get the vaccine until more doses are available (see the chart above). Further mass vaccination sites are expected to be announced in the coming days and 1,700 providers around the state were ready to offer vaccinations.

Toomey said she had received many calls from people worried they haven’t been able to get an appointment to get the second dose of vaccine, but she said that was being worked out now and reassured Georgians they would be able to get the second dose.

Toomey said and updated list of where to get the vaccine is now on the GDPH website at this link.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.