ATLANTA - Gov. Brian Kemp said state leaders are optimistic that Georgia's COVID-19 case numbers will soon begin to fall.
"We're seeing early indications that there's some areas of the state that are starting to peak and hopefully go the other way. So, I hope that happens sooner rather than later," said Kemp.
The news comes as Georgia has more than 5,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide and case numbers have risen to levels not seen since January.
Earlier this week, the governor announced he would deploy more than 100 members of the Georgia National Guard to help supplement staffing in 10 hospitals around the state. The list includes five in and around metro Atlanta--Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Wellstar Kennestone in Marietta, Piedmont Henry in Stockbridge, Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and Piedmont Fayette in Fayetteville.
"What the guard specifically is going to do is to get folks and really help speed the process of getting people checked into the hospital that are coming in, especially the emergency room," Kemp explained. "One of the things that I'd been hearing from our EMS and ambulance folks is they were having to wait at the facilities for people to get the patients out of the ambulances and get them into the emergency room, get them through the check-in process. So, they were having to hold the ambulance a long time. That prevents them from, obviously, going to the next call."
The governor said a majority of the Georgians hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. He hopes the Food and Drug Administration's full approval of the Pfizer vaccine will convince more Georgians to make appointments.
"I hope that's the case. I know it's very frustrating for people in the hospitals. I've been hearing from them that you know, 90 to 95% of the COVID patients that are in the hospital are unvaccinated. I've had some gut-wrenching calls with sheriffs and school superintendents that have lost deputies and educators to COVID that weren't vaccinated. So, my message continues to be the same. Talk to you doctor. Talk to you local pharmacist. The vaccine--all three of them--are widely available. Make a good healthcare choice and consider getting vaccinated," said Kemp.
'I am fearful for my three daughters'
Atlanta recorded its 100th homicide over the weekend, outpacing 2020 and 2019. Leaders with the Atlanta Police Department held a news conference earlier this week, urging people to resolve their differences without gunfire.
"I agree with them. I mean, people need to put their guns down. They don't need to be shooting at people because they get road rage and other crazy things that are going on. But the people that are not doing that, we need to go after them and that's exactly what we're doing with our crime suppression unit. I am fearful for my three daughters when they're in Atlanta. I'm not going to let them go pump gas. We're not letting them go to the mall and that's just like every other family that's living or working in Atlanta. People are scared to death right now and they want something done about it," said Gov. Kemp.
The governor said people do not expect the problem to be fixed overnight, but he called it "refreshing" that candidates running for Atlanta mayor this fall have made crime in the city their top priority.
"They know how fed up people are and I just want Georgians and Atlantans to know that we're doing something about it," Gov. Kemp added.
'Herschel has always brought a lot'
Former University of Georgia running back and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker officially launched his campaign Wednesday for U.S. Senate in 2022.
Walker faces an already crowded field of Republicans including two veterans and businessmen, Kelvin King and Latham Saddler as well as Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. Each of them hope to challenge sitting U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock next November.
"Herschel has always brought a lot when he's on the playing field, whether it's in football and now in politics, but we've got a lot of great Republicans for the U.S. Senate that are running including him now. It's my hope that they're going to stay focused on things that I am and that's posting up against the disastrous policies of the Biden Administration," said Kemp.
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