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As COVID strains hospitals, Governor rebuffs request to pause elective surgeries


With COVID hospitalizations continuing to rise across the state at an alarming rate, Congressman David Scott was joined by his colleague, Hank Johnson, as they called on Governor Brian Kemp to implement a pause on elective in-patient surgeries in Georgia. In a letter to the governor, the two say this will free hospitals and their medical staff to manage the influx of coronavirus patients that are straining the capacity of these medical facilities. “Hospital systems are being forced to make difficult decisions about how to care for patients when there aren’t enough resources to go around,” they wrote.

Scott and Johnson said recent data shows unvaccinated patients have pushed Georgia’s hospitals to their capacity limits, with nearly 92% of emergency room beds in the state currently occupied. They also pointed to a Sept. 19 deadline quickly approaching that impacts health worker licensing and asked Kemp to extend licensing requirement waivers for hospitals and healthcare workers who provide critical services. Their letter went on to say, “Our state is at a critical point in its fight against the pandemic and as elected officials, we must prioritize the health and well-being of our citizens above all other considerations.”

Their letter of concern received a sharp rebuke from Kemp who chastised the two congressmen for failing to reach out to his office or talk with hospital leadership in Georgia. In a curt response, Kemp said, “While well-intentioned, it is abundantly clear that you have not reached out to my office or spoken with hospital leadership across Georgia. If you had, you would know I have repeatedly utilized executive orders to streamline licensing requirements on healthcare systems since March 2020.”

Kemp recounted all that he has done to fight COVID including signing executive orders to streamline licensing requirements on healthcare systems, activating up to 2,500 Georgia National Guard troops to help hospitals, and directing $625 million to finance state-supported healthcare workers.

Kemp suggested to Scott and Johnson that their time could be put to better use in other ways, such as lobbying for a maximum rate for contract healthcare workers to end bidding wars between states, along with clear guidance from the Biden administration regarding plans for coronavirus booster shots.

Given that Gov. Kemp has yet to embrace or support the democratic administration in its fight against COVID-19 and its various variants, his last request seemed disingenuous at best and hypercritical at worst.

As COVID-19 ravages the state, more people are becoming infected, and more people are dying each day. The hospitalization numbers are staggering as these facilities run out of ICU beds. The virus is impacting our local schools at an alarming rate with teachers, students, and school workers health in the balance. Kemp has indicated on numerous occasions that he will not implement a mask or vaccine mandate for the state. The state board of regents followed his directive and made mask mandates illegal for state supported schools.

Another letter, sent by a state House Democrats also met Kemp’s ire as they suggested to the Governor that he close all schools until such time that children 12 and older can get vaccinated. That letter also did not prompt the governor to act.

A survey was recently released by WalletHub, a personal finance website, showing Georgia ranks 47th among all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of overall coronavirus recovery.

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