Leading Atlanta doctor says hospitals could face frightening surge soon from coronavirus

Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital is already seeing a small, but steady stream of patients coming in with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing,

The symptoms of a new and dangerous coronavirus.

One of the city’s top infectious disease specialists, Emory School of Medicine Professor Dr. Carlos del Rio and his team are watching a frightening surge in cases in New York, believing Atlanta could be weeks away from the same situation.

“I think we’re going to be there probably early May, about a month," del Rio says.

Learn more about the coronavirus outbreak in Georgia

But, del Rio says there is still a way to slow this virus down. 

First, he says, we need to stay home, to slow the spread of the virus.

Next, the state needs to ramp up testing for COVID-19 quickly, to identify and isolate the infected.

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Finally, hospitals need to quickly get ready.

"We have to get PPE. We have to get masks, gowns, face shields. We have to get ICU beds," he said. " We have to really prepare our hospitals for a greater number of patients.”

Del Rio warns there is no quick-fix for this pandemic, and strongly disagrees with President Donald Trump’s prediction the country could be back-to-business as usual by Easter.

LIVE: Interactive map tracks global spread of COVID-19

“That’s about 16 to 18 days away.  Well, then do a shelter-in-place for the entire nation for those 16 to 18 days. And, maybe we’ll be there, right?" Del Rio says. "But do a real shelter in place. Don’t do this. What he’s done so far really hasn’t done anything.”

Staying home, del Rio says, will save lives. To see how much is on the line, he says, look southward, to Albany’s Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, struggling under the weight of a major outbreak.

"Every hospital is going to feel impacted. And I think we need to be aware that this is potentially devastating for our entire healthcare system," opines del Rio. "And, more importantly, if you happen to get another disease, there’s not going to be a place for you to be taken care of."


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