ATLANTA - Just a month ago, at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, it looked like the pandemic was on its way out.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Jansen says they were down to an average of about ten COVID-19 patients a day.
Then, about three weeks ago, he says, their numbers began to climb again.
"Today we have 32, plus several more in the emergency department being evaluated to know whether they need to be admitted or not," Dr. Jansen says.
Grady's current COVID-19 patients, Jansen says, are unvaccinated, and tend to be younger than the patients hospitalized in previous peaks of the virus.
He says they are also less likely to be severely ill, and require critical care, like ventilation, although about 25% of the patients in the hospital's ICUs have COVID-19.
Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital is seeing a jump in COVID-19 patients. (FOX )
Dr. Jansen says, while they have had a few fully vaccinated patients who experienced breakthrough infections in their emergency department or clinics, none have been sick enough to require hospitalization.
Talking to patients who have recently been hospitalized, he says, there is a feeling of remorse.
"What we see is regret," Jansen says. "Because most people know that vaccines are available. They just choose not to get vaccinated."
As July 26, 1,390 patients were hospitalized in Georgia with COVID-19, and another 299 were considered "patients under investigation," according to the GA Department of Public Health.
Jansen says Grady's ICU admissions are beginning to rise as cases increase.
"The curve is not comforting right now," he says. "What we've seeing here is being seen across the city and of course across the state. It's beginning to be close to an exponential increase, and we saw that with the earlier peaks as well."
Last summer during an early surge, Grady's COVID-19 admissions peaked at between 80-90 patients a day.
By January, he says, that number was up to 180 patients a day.
That's well beyond the current 32.
If the trend continues, Jansen says, Grady could be facing a fourth pandemic surge.
Although he is vaccinated, he says, he's being more careful, especially about crowds.
"If I go outside, I'm more likely to wear a mask inside that I would have been even a few weeks ago," Dr. Jansen says. "Because the number of people who are infected and asymptomatic has increased so much, it makes me a little leery."
Still, even with the highly contagious delta variant, Jansen is confident fully vaccinated people who have breakthrough infection will not get as sick as unvaccinated people.
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