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Gov. Brian Kemp plans to reopen the Georgia World Congress Center for COVID-19 patients as cases surge throughout the state ahead of Christmas.

Just as Gov. Brian Kemp announced the Georgia World Congress Center will reopen to help hospitals with the surge, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Georgia has broken its previous record.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 6,242 cases and 52 confirmed deaths. The previous record was 6,144, set less than a week ago, on Dec. 18.

“In concert with rises in cases and hospitalizations, our hospitals have seen increased need for bed space to treat other patients,” Kemp said during a news conference at Emory University. “The state is activating a rapid plan to increase capacity and ensure our hospitals are not overrun.”

The GWCC will have an additional 60 beds as early as next week to help relieve overwhelmed hospitals, Kemp said. Operations are expected to continue through the month of January as hospital staff continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations from Pfizer and Moderna.

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While Kemp has not changed the guidelines in his executive order to mandate masks, the governor continues to ask Georgians to wear masks, keep a 6-foot distance from others in public and frequently wash hands.

By Dec. 30, Kemp said the state will have enough personal protective equipment to last health care workers through the current surge in cases.

"We will have an 80-day supply of all PPE on hand, ensuring that we have critical supplies to face the virus head on in the coming days and weeks," he said.