‘A Really Bad Spot:’ Coronavirus cases grow exponentially in Georgia

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A state website showed a record-shattering single-day increase in COVID-19 cases Thursday, with nearly 8,000 new cases.

The total – 7,950 – includes positives from rapid antigen tests. It easily surpassed the previous one-day record of new cases of 6,601 reported Friday.

“We are in a really bad spot,’’ said Amber Schmidtke, whose Daily Digest tracks COVID-19 in Georgia.

“We are seeing exponential growth over the past week,’’ she said, adding that Georgia is “heading in the direction’’ of the Upper Midwest and Western states with the highest COVID rates.

The percentage of people who test positive for the virus is also increasing in Georgia, standing at 14 percent of all individuals tested. The target for states is 5 percent or below.

The increases in infections come in all types of Georgia counties – urban, suburban and rural — Schmidtke added.

Georgia’s ICU bed capacity continues to be strained, with 86 percent of such beds occupied across the state.

The Gainesville Times reported Thursday that cots are being set up in a gym by Northeast Georgia Health System to handle the overload of patients.

The system was treating 217 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, its highest number since the pandemic began.

At the health system’s hospitals in Braselton and Barrow County, no beds were open Wednesday, the Times reported. Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville had 24 available beds, with only one bed in the intensive care unit available and another 100 occupied.

NGMC Gainesville already has a mobile unit near its North Tower with 20 beds. The Gainesville and Braselton hospitals have tents outside for extra treatment space.

Nationally, the pandemic reached another grim milestone Wednesday with the highest daily death toll so far.

The COVID Tracking Project reported 3,054 COVID-19 related deaths — a significant jump from the previous single-day record of 2,769 on May 7.

The spread of the disease has shattered another record, with 106,688 COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals, the Associated Press reported.