Kemp boosts troops aiding hospitals, launches vaccine incentive

Gov. Brian Kemp on Aug. 30, 2021
Gov. Brian Kemp on Aug. 30, 2021(WRDW)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 2:59 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - Georgia’s governor is calling up as many as another 1,500 National Guard soldiers to help with COVID-19 response.

More than 5,600 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across Georgia on Monday, nearly one-third of all people in hospitals.

That’s just short of the record of 5,715 set on Jan. 13.

Kemp signed the executive order Monday increasing the ceiling on guard members from 1,000 to 2,500.

More than 92% of intensive care beds were in use Monday, roughly equal with the number of ICU beds in use in late January.

Hospitals in regions around Macon, Rome and Waycross were reporting they were using more than 100% of intensive care beds.

Vaccination incentive

Kemp also announced a COVID vaccination incentive for Georgians on the State Health Benefit Plan.

According to Kemp, members will be eligible to receive a $150 Visa gift card or up to $480 in health care expense credits.

The incentive is retroactive for those who have already been vaccinated.

The deadline for eligibility is Nov. 30.

Kemp made that announcement as he and state Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey offered an update Monday on the COVID situation in Georgia during a news conference Monday at the state Capitol.

The state is adding $4.5 million for COVID staffing to hire people and improve infrastructure in hospitals for COVID, especially in rural areas, Kemp said.

There have been reports of hospitals having trouble getting equipment like oxygen.

Kemp signed an executive order waiving weight and hours limits to allow truck drivers to deliver supplies. This also allows fuel to keep coming in with Tropical Storm Ida,

Toomey said virtually all of the state’s COVID cases now involved the super-infectious delta variant of coronavirus.

She said the state is seeing its worst hospitalization numbers since January and all counties are at high transmission levels.

Cases among schoolchildren have quadrupled over the past several weeks, she said, adding that the highest increase is for ages 11-17.

Hospitalization of kids isn’t as high as adults, but kids are passing the virus to adults, Toomey said

“I know there are people out there that have vaccine hesitancy for a lot of different reasons,” Kemp said, adding that this is why he’s urged people to talk to their doctor about it.

“I think this is a time for all Georgians to reflect back on the early days in the pandemic when people were delivering meals and donuts and other things to folks working in the hospital and public health workers, and that’s what we should continue to do,” he said.

Watch the news conference here:

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