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Kemp Reopens Georgia World Congress Center As Temporary Hospital For COVID-19 Patients
With hospitals facing a surge of coronavirus patients, Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday said the Georgia World Congress Center would again be utilized as an alternate hospital as more people in the state become sick with COVID-19.
Kemp first announced use of the massive complex in downtown Atlanta for patients when officials expected coronavirus cases to peak around April 26. However, the surge never fully developed and the makeshift hospital wound down in May.
The need for more bed space, however, has changed drastically in recent weeks as cases around Georgia have been skyrocketing. The state on Friday reported a single-day record of 4,484 COVID cases.
"As Georgia continues to battle the spread of COVID-19, Governor Kemp and state officials are preparing for enhanced testing and hospital surge capacity to ensure the health and well-being of our citizens," the governor's office said in a written statement.
With 82% of Georgia's critical care beds now in use, health systems across the state say they're quickly nearing capacity as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.
Emory Healthcare said hospitalizations of its COVID-19 patients have more than tripled in the past 14 days. In Middle Georgia, Navicent Health said it has also seen a dramatic increase this week.
The state first plans to leverage a new contract for enhanced bed capacity with a metro-Atlanta area hospital, Kemp said in the statement.
In addition to the increased bed capacity developed in-house at hospitals in recent months, this new contract is expected to add nearly 100 medical-surge and ICU beds to existing infrastructure, coupled with “standby” beds at the convention center should additional needs arise, the statement said.
Kemp also said the state already provided mobile hospital units to facilities in Macon, Gainesville, Rome and Albany, which will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
"The state is coordinating – and paying for – increased staff at dozens of healthcare and long-term care facilities across Georgia," Kemp's office said. "We are supplying personal protective equipment, working with local leaders, and projecting future needs in accordance with the Department of Public Health’s guidance at every turn."