The Phoebe Putney Hospital system in Albany is facing a grim return to a situation they hoped to never see again — staggering numbers of COVID-19 infections overrunning its intensive care units in Albany, Americus and Sylvester.

On Friday, Dr. Kathy Hudson with Phoebe Putney told the community the hospital had broken a new record in a digital press conference broadcast on the hospital's Facebook page.

"Yesterday, we passed our peak numbers since the winter surge in January and we also passed where we were in April 1, 2020, when we were one of the worst hotspots in the world," she said, voice at times shaking as she spoke.

Dougherty County is only 39% fully vaccinated, according to COVID Act Now

Hudson said five patients in the ICU died this week and others likely won’t make it. There are currently 131 people hospitalized for COVID across the hospital system.

"We desperately need help from the community to help reduce the spread of this virus," she said. "Everyone needs to know: If they have not already done so, receive the vaccine. We've talked about that over and over again." 

Department of Public Health director Dr. Charles Ruis said that hope for turning the tide comes with increasing vaccination rates.

"We are seeing an increase in vaccinations every day, and that is comforting," he said. "We would like to see many more."

GPB News spoke to Phoebe Putney CEO Scott Steiner earlier this month. He said that the longer it takes for people to get vaccinated, the greater the chance the virus could fly fully out of control.

"The longer we wait, the more this thing is allowed to mutate after delta," he said. "The longer we allow this to continue, we're just going to be continuing to talk about it. Right now, we're actually calling delta 'COVID-21.'"

As of Aug. 13, 2021, there have been 977,482 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia. At least 18,942 have died.