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Gov. Kemp announces steps to support hospitals with COVID-19 surge, says Georgia will remain open

Kemp was joined by the state's public health director Dr. Kathleen Toomey from the State Capitol.

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced additional steps to support Georgia hospitals during a Monday afternoon press conference. He also encouraged Georgians, including state employees, to get vaccinated for COVID-19

Gov. Kemp began by stating that during a call with metro Atlanta hospital CEOs, he was notified that 90% of Georgians hospitalized with coronavirus are currently unvaccinated. To help support hospitals, Kemp announced that the total number of state-supported hospital staff will be increased from 1,300 to 2,800, with many going to rural hospitals.

To further encourage state employees to get vaccinated, Kemp stated that state offices will be closed on Sept. 3, in hope that they will use that day to schedule an appointment.

Finally, Kemp added that "Georgia will remain open for business," dismissing any notion of the state shutting down. He added that Georgians should be part of the solution.

Kemp was also joined by the state's public health director Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

Toomey told 11Alive last week that the number of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are likely to continue to rise in Georgia, and then potentially reach their peak in September. She added that crushing the Delta variant is urgent and difficult, but doable.

In her appearance on Monday, Toomey once again stressed that the Delta variant is much more transmissible and there has been a 90% increase as a result.

Toomey also stated that the Department of Public Health is ramping up testing and want to do everything they can to keep people out of hospitals if they don't need to be there.

Finally, Toomey said that the state will offer an additional dose to those who are severely immunocompromised. However, she said these are not booster doses.

RELATED: 'A whole, new pandemic' | Top Georgia health official says COVID Delta variant could peak in September

Hospitals are feeling the strain, once again, as cases across the country surge. Toomey said mostly unvaccinated younger people are the COVID patients who are filling the hospitals now -- in their 20s, 30s, 40s. 

Since the start of the pandemic last year, there have been 68,852 total patients hospitalized in Georgia. As of August 16, there are 4,475 COVID patients currently hospitalized.

Schools, meanwhile, are struggling to keep classrooms open as COVID-19 exposures force students and teachers to quarantine.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.