Major happenings in health care didn’t cease over the holidays.

The news, in fact, exploded – in both familiar and surprising directions. It started, of course, with the latest on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shattering Records

The state last week reported daily totals of new Covid cases that shattered previous records, with the very contagious Omicron variant spreading fast. And those state numbers didn’t count the people who tested positive for the virus at home but who didn’t report their infections.

Grady Hospital via Georgia Health News

The announcement – accompanied by a plea from hospitals that people not use ERs to get Covid tests — continued the joint work on fighting Covid that these systems have pursued over the course of the pandemic.

On Monday, Grady Memorial Hospital reported treating 239 patients with Covid – the Atlanta safety-net provider’s highest virus number since the pandemic began.

‘Highest number of children with Covid-19’

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said Monday it had 102 patients hospitalized due to Covid – also a high for that system. Of these children, 74% had at least one pre-existing medical condition, said Children’s Healthcare. “This is the highest number of children with Covid-19 in our system to date, but we have three hospitals in our system with sufficient capacity to see and treat patients,’’ said the pediatric system.

The latest surge also sparked a combined announcement Wednesday from six major metro Atlanta hospital systems, which said they had seen 100 percent to 200 percent increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past eight days. “The vast majority of inpatients are unvaccinated,’’ the statement said.

Piedmont Healthcare, on the other hand, said it’s seeing big increases in Covid patients but not to the level of its recent September hospitalization peak.

Data Overload

State officials also are reporting an astonishingly high rate of nearly 30 percent of Georgians who got a recent PCR test showing an infection. And the Georgia Department of Public Health said Monday it would not report daily numbers “due to a large amount of data overwhelming the system.”

The spread in metro Atlanta has forced school systems to return to remote learning for students to begin the January semester.

Andy Miller | Georgia Health News

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News, a nonprofit, independent news organization devoted to covering healthcare in the state.