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NGHS officials say we could be on ‘downward side’ of delta peak
Number of COVID hospitalizations continues to decline
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A Northeast Georgia Medical Center staff member leaves the COVID-19 patient tent Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have declined steadily in the past several days, and that trend is likely to continue, according to a health official with the Northeast Georgia Health System. 

“The curve is starting to flatten out,” said Dr. John Delzell, vice president and incident commander for NGHS, adding that the peak has probably passed. “It looks like we’re on the downward side of it.” 

NGHS has 281 COVID-positive patients as of Sept. 14. The health system had predicted that it would surpass its previous peak of 355 coronavirus hospitalizations in early September. After reaching a high of 333 on Sept. 9, however, cases have continued to decline. 

A large reason for the decline is an “amazing” uptick in the number of patients being treated with monoclonal antibodies, Delzell said, most of whom end up recovering from the disease. 

Hospitals have been able to administer thousands of doses in past weeks, he said, because the process now requires less time and resources. Previously, the antibodies had to be administered intravenously, which could take as long as three hours per patient. Now, the treatment can be given subcutaneously via injection. Additionally, the treatment is now more commonly given in primary care settings instead of emergency rooms. 

Although the current wave may have crested, Delzell remains “cautiously optimistic.” Hospitals are still flooded with patients. A record number are currently intubated and the death rate hasn’t changed much, he said. 

And while the positivity rate has gone down as well, Delzell said, Hall County is still in the “red” with a positivity rate of 21%, according to the most recent data from the Department of Public Health. 

The Hall County School District is seeing a similar trend in the declining number of coronavirus cases. After nearly doubling its all-time infection record, the number of positive cases now stands at 194 as of Sept. 14, according to data posted on the district’s website. The previous record of 198 was set on Dec. 14, 2020. The number of schools requiring masks now is only one, down from a dozen about a week ago. 

“The district is hopefully optimistic with the decrease in cases,” said district spokesman Stan Lewis. “We will continue to look at local data, in the community and in schools, knowing that we must be ready to pivot when necessary with regard to mitigation measures.” 

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