SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is echoing calls from local emergency departments overwhelmed amid the current COVID-19 surge.
WSAV has heard from a number of emergency medical services (EMS) — including in Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties — that are being stretched to the limit with 911 calls.
“Many hospitals are having to declare themselves on diversion,” DPH explained, “meaning they are temporarily unable to provide normal emergency care to patients arriving by ambulance.”
Officials are urging the public to reserve 911 for medical emergencies only.
Local doctors have said they’ve seen an increase in patients coming to hospitals for COVID tests. The DPH alluded to residents contacting communications centers like the Georgia Coordinating Center (GCC) with their own questions and concerns.
“The public should NOT call the GCC with questions or concerns,” DPH stated.
“To help keep hospital emergency departments open and able to treat medical emergencies, individuals seeking COVID testing should not go to hospital emergency departments,” the state health department added.
DPH also encouraged Georgians to use the best defenses against COVID: getting the vaccine, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently.
“COVID vaccination is available statewide and is our best tool for ending this pandemic and reducing the overwhelming strain on EMS, the healthcare system and healthcare providers,” DPH added.