Monday afternoon, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp pledged to call up as many as 2,500 additional National Guard troops to combat the Delta Variant of the Coronavirus. In his executive order, Kemp also announced a subsidy to get state employees and retirees fully vaccinated. Additionally, Kemp reminded everyone at the State Capitol that getting vaccinated is the best and easiest way to fight COVID-19, while stopping short of mandating vaccines or masks.

“The best incentives is to work locally with individual companies, to decide what they’ll do with their employees if they’re vaccinated. I’d like to congratulate DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond an event down there getting 2,500 poeple vaccinated. I think that’s great and there are other local governments that are doing the same thing. That’s where people are going to have more trust dealing with people they’re used to working with everyday, or they’re closest to versus a State-mandated approach.

43% of Georgians are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Health, said Georgia’s increased COVID case numbers can be tied to school-age children. Such case numbers have quadrupled in the last several weeks. The sharpest increase was found in children aged 11-17.

“Saturday, we had 12,223 total cases reported, which is one of our highest daily case rates ever reported,” said Toomey. “And all 159 of our counties are at a high transmission level. So that means all of these areas are considered in the red zone.”

Additionally, there have been 170 separate COVID outbreaks in Georgia, with more than half emanating from K-12 schools. The Department of Health says they are working with county and city school superintendents to solve these issues.

Toomey admitted “nearly 100% of all our cases are related to the Delta Variant.” The COVID case loads are nearing the peaks of January. Even though, Democratic leaders have called upon the Governor to take stronger action while fighting COVID. Kemp flatly dismissed their requests.

“It’s just causing division. It’s causing people’s blood pressure to go up,” Kemp admitted. “We need to continue to educate and advocate for people to get the vaccine.”

During his press conference, Kemp said he will direct $4.5 million to the Georgia Coordinating Center, which aids with logistics of hospital bed space and emergency services, provides funding for new hires while strengthening technical infrastructure.

The COVID-related deaths in Georgia are closely tied to vaccination status.

“All three of them work very well to protect against the Delta variant,” Toomey said. “And, yes people who are vaccinated can become infected, and some have died. 168 individuals have died but that represents 0.004% of the overall number of people that have died from the Coronavirus. I can’t say that enough: vaccination is the tool to get us out of this pandemic, it’s so very important.”

According to the Georgia Hospital Association, 92.3% of intensive care beds are occupied with COVID patients. Emergency department beds are at 78% capacity and inpatient bends are are 85.7% capacity, each statistic up from one week ago.

Toomey said nurses are receiving threatening emails and being harassed in the field while doing their jobs.

“At one mobile event in one [Georgia] town, they had to close down due to the harassment and the threats directed toward our team. This is absolutely wrong. They are giving their lives to help us. We in Georgia should do better. We should be thanking these individuals for bringing life-saving vaccines to our state. I’m sorry to let you know about this because I wasn’t fully aware as to what’s happening at our vaccination sites until this weekend.”

Kemp pleaded once again Monday for hesitant Georgians to talk with their doctors and faith leaders regarding getting vaccinated.

“I know people who are hesitant for many different reasons,” Kemp said. “We have them in the African-American community for obvious reasons dating back to the Tuskegee Experiment. We have other people that don’t trust the government.

Which is why I continue to say: Talk to your doctor, your local pharmacist that you trust, talk to your faith leader, talk to anyone in your family that you trust that has taken the vaccine and make a decision that will potentially save your life. The numbers do not lie: 95% of the people in the hospital with COVID have not been vaccinated.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a news conference at Lockheed Martin on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...