Aug 21, 2023 - COVID

COVID hospitalizations rise in Georgia

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

COVID-19 hospitalization rates across Georgia were nearly double the national average between June and July amid signs of a late summer wave sweeping the country.

Why it matters: With the rise in at-home testing making official COVID-19 case numbers less reliable, hospitalization rates are an important metric for gauging viral spread.

By the numbers: The average COVID-19 hospitalization rate nationwide rose about 17% between June and July, per the latest available CDC data.

  • In Georgia, the increase between June and July was 32%.
  • That made for an average hospitalization rate of about 2.2 per 100,000 people in July, according to the CDC.

What's happening: A new variant, EG.5, is now the dominant form in the U.S., according to CDC estimates — though it's unclear if it's directly responsible for the rising numbers.

What they're saying: Georgia Department of Public Health spokesperson Nancy Nydam said Friday that the new variant nicknamed "Eris" is responsible for about 16% of new Covid cases in Georgia.

Reality check: In both percentage change and raw terms, nationwide hospitalizations remain far below their pandemic-era peak.

  • In July, they were down 82% and 84% year-over-year nationally and in Georgia, respectively, according to the CDC data.

Zoom out: Hospitalization rates from June to July rose the fastest in Mississippi (+73% month over month), Alabama (+66%) and Louisiana (+66%).

  • Yet they were down in Michigan (-32%), Vermont (-31%) and Rhode Island (-31%).

Of note: Some pharmacies in the metro Atlanta area are watching at-home testing kits fly off the shelves, the AJC reports.

The bottom line: There's no sign we're headed for anything like the waves of the peak pandemic era.

  • But it's still an alarming trend, and a reminder that COVID-19 remains a public health concern.
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