COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise in Georgia for 1st time in 2023

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise, marking the first increase we've seen so far this year. This comes as many students are heading back to school.

According to the latest data from the CDC, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 12.1% during the week of July 16 nationwide. While those numbers are still much lower than the same period in previous years, it does mark the biggest increase in 2023.

"What's very unusual about this increase compared to other increases we've seen in the past 3 years is this is actually not due to a new variant of concern this is still the same circulating variants we had since the beginning of 2023," Jodie Guest, Sr. Vice Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at Emory University, explained.

In Georgia, Cobb, Paulding and Cherokee counties are some of the locations that saw significant hospitalization increases in the same reporting period. Colquitt County in south Georgia saw one of the largest changes nationwide.

"This is likely based on a combination of summertime people getting together a lot of travel a lot of engagement. And probably also based on the fact that a lot of people aren't testing anymore before they get together," Guest said.

"The uptick in hospitalizations is actually across all age groups, but it's particularly significant in those who are 70 and older," she added.

Experts say it's a good idea to take a COVID test if you're feeling sick and staying up to date on vaccines with a new booster expected as soon as this month.

"I think the majority of people if they were to contract COVID-19 right now are not going to have a particularly rough time of it for long term they may not feel great for a little bit of time certainly if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 there's still really easy access to testing," Guest explained.

The Georgia Department of Public Health offers several locations for free COVID testing throughout the state.