Local doctors report spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations


AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – The increase in Covid-19 cases is hitting local hospitals.

Covid-hospitalizations at University hospital went from 17 this past weekend to 29 Wednesday morning. Doctors say there’s no way to tell if these patients contracted the Delta variant, because there’s still no way to test for it here in Augusta.

“But they do sample and that’s how they estimate what the percentage is, and right now we are at a very high percentage almost all of it is the delta variant,” said Dr. Ioana Chirca.

Dr. Chirca is an infectious disease expert at University Hospital. She says the delta variant is much more contagious than the original virus.

“Just to have an idea, the previous variant one person would infect 2 to 3 other people now this delta, one person can infect up to 6 patients,” she said.

And there’s a big difference in the patients that’s infecting compared to the original variant.

“Most of our patients are young,” said Dr. Chirca.

When COVID first made it’s way to Augusta older people were at risk. Dr. Chirca says now they’re not only younger but also unvaccinated.

“By in large all of our patients admitted, are not vaccinated,” she said.

Dr. Chirca believes the vast majority of the younger population being unvaccinated is what’s driving the spread of the delta variant in Augusta. Now hospital officials are looking to open up another facility for COVID patients only on the main campus.

Over at AU, 25 patients were admitted for Covid-19, and now students are preparing to head back to campus on Monday.

“Right now we’re planning on a full schedule, a fully open environment on campus and a full campus experience,” said Dr. Brooks Keel, President of Augusta University.

Dr. Keel says they’re not planning to require vaccinations or testing for students moving on campus.

“We’re almost in daily contact with the University System of Georgia to try to determine if we need to make any changes, but I don’t anticipate making any changes at this point,” he said.

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself from the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. Even if you are vaccinated, they agree with the new C-D-C guidelines that you should wear your masks and avoid large crowds.

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