State health officials opened new COVID-19 testing sites across the state on Friday, August 27, urging residents to stay away from hospitals for COVID testing as doctors and nurses are grappling with a wave of new cases.
“The current increase in COVID cases across Georgia is expanding the staff and resources of hospitals and EMS to unprecedented levels,” Georgia’s Ministry of Public Health said in a press release. “To help keep hospital emergency departments open and able to handle medical emergencies, people looking for a COVID test should not go to hospital emergency departments. ”
Three drive-thru test sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday in District 2, which serves Hall, Lumpkin and Franklin counties. The sites only do PCR tests, the results of which take 36 hours. Appointments are not necessary.
The locations are:
Allen Creek Soccer Complex
2500 Allen Creek Road, Gainesville, Georgia 30507
Lumpkin County Department of Health
60 Mechanicsville Road, Dahlonega, Georgia 30533
Franklin County Department of Health
6955 Hwy 145 South, Carnesville, Georgia 30521
Due to the increase, Natasha Young, public information officer for the state health department, said in a press release that some state hospitals have reported the hijacking, which means that ‘They ask that ambulances divert patients to other local facilities when possible.
“Diversion does not apply to people seeking emergency medical care,” Young wrote. “People facing a medical emergency should dial 9-1-1 and seek help. “
The Northeast Georgia Medical System hospitals in Braselton and Gainesville did not report a diversion, each reporting their emergency department status as “busy.” Emergency medical services personnel can visit the Georgia Coordinating Center website to check the status of hospital diversion and transfer patients accordingly.
But hospitals are full in Northeast Georgia’s medical system. Carol Burrell, CEO of NGHS, wrote in an internal memo to employees that “hospitals are full” and begged her staff to “dig deep” as they brace themselves for a wave of coronavirus patients this weekend .
As of August 26, 85% of NGHS patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are not vaccinated, and 100% of those in intensive care are not vaccinated. Only 38% of Hall County residents are fully immunized, according to DPH data.