Another state of emergency has been declared as a response to an increase in the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations, this time in the town of Dalton, Georgia.
Dalton is part of Whitfield County, an area that has reported 700 new cases in the last two weeks. While this is the first state of emergency Dalton has issued during the COVID pandemic, they are definitely not the first town to do so.
According to Dalton Mayor David Pennington, Hamilton Medical Center has begun filling up with coronavirus patients, and the hospital just does not have enough staff to handle them.
The declaration is asking city employees who have paramedic and/or EMT training to assist the staff at Hamilton Medical Center.
“Everybody is experiencing tight personnel issues because this has been going on for so long. Now with the hospital ramping back up again, we know they’re going to need some help,” Mayor Pennington told local news outlet, Channel 3.
The mayor also noted that the hospital is reaching numbers that haven’t been seen since the coronavirus’ peak. When the emergency declaration was instituted, Hamilton Medical Center had 63 patients in the hospital with COVID, with 12 of them being in the ICU and 8 of them on ventilators.
“We have trained EMT’s, things like that. We have people that can stock shelves, whatever they need us to do, so we’re there to help them,” Mayor Pennington said.
According to Dalton Fire Chief Todd Pangle, this is the first time his fire department has been asked to assist with an issue like this.
But it appears they were ready and willing to help, as Channel 3 reports that “less than 24 hours after the declaration, firefighters were already at the hospital learning what they will be helping out with.”
“All of our guys have emergency medical response certification, but I also have some EMT’s as well as some paramedics,” Pangle said.
Alongside his emergency declaration, Mayor Pennington is also encouraging Dalton residents to get the COVID vaccine, as only 38 percent of the town has been vaccinated.