Gov. Kemp, state health leaders preparing for heavy full season with potential COVID-19 variant

ATLANTA — State officials are already planning how to handle an expected spike in COVID-19 cases this fall as flu cases increase as well.

There are worries that a combination of the Delta variant, the flu and vaccine hesitancy could put a strain on Georgia hospitals.

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Governor Brian Kemp and Department of Public Health Director Dr. Kathleen Toomey joined Channel 2′s Richard Elliot on a tour of the vaccination site inside the Latin American Association building.

Officials at the site say they vaccinated 50 people on Thursday.

The governor and his team are already meeting to determine how to prepare for an anticipated spike in cases in late summer and early fall when students return to school. This lines up with the same timeline flu cases are expected to rise and more cases of the Delta variant may come along.

“We are not taking the situation where we are for granted, but we also know that we are prepared to handle whatever comes as, you know, as long as the vaccines continue to hold up and we don’t have some sort of variant that reacts differently than the current ones,” said Gov. Kemp.

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Kemp said they met Thursday to discuss what worked and what did not at the start of the pandemic.

“What were our assets? Do we have any liabilities that we can identify, and what do we need to prepare for in the fall?,” were some of the questions Kemp said the team covered.

Georgia is still dealing with the persistent issue of vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Toomey says the best way to combat the Delta variant is to make sure as many people as possible get the vaccine.

“Both are still protected. You are protected with the vaccine, and so the more we can get vaccinated, the more we’re going to be protected from the spike,” she told Elliot.

Kemp was happy to announce that 49% of all Georgians over the age of 12 have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The governor added that COVID-19 cases are down 96% from the peak of the pandemic.