ATLANTA, Ga. — Georgia physicians today called on Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler to immediately pass a COVID-19 relief package that includes support for struggling Georgians and resources for healthcare workers that can help save lives. On Thursday, the COVID-19 death toll in Georgia was 8,879, with 433,353 infected and sickened, including thousands of Georgia healthcare workers.
“While we appreciate words of encouragement from Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, what healthcare workers need more from them is immediate action to pass a robust relief package that gives us the resources we need to stay safe and save lives,” said Dr. Adam Nowlan, a Radiation Oncology Specialist in Atlanta. “For nearly a year, healthcare workers from physicians and nurses to therapists, janitors and paramedics have worked around the clock to protect Georgians during the pandemic. They’re often putting themselves and their families at risk of infections, sickness and death. Physicians and healthcare workers are tired of waiting and we demand Sens. Perdue and Loeffler finally step up and help those of us on the frontlines of COVID-19 do our jobs safely.”
The physicians asked Sens. Perdue and Loeffler to immediately pass either a version of the bipartisan relief package introduced this week or a larger relief package passed in May that they and their Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate have refused to act on for months. The physicians’ call for relief included:
- Increased production and delivery of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, through the use of the Defense Production Act, with robust reporting, transparency, and coordination of supply chain logistics.
- Hazard premium pay for all essential workers, including healthcare workers in clinical and non-clinical settings, from nurses and therapists to receptionists, janitors and kitchen staff.
- $100 billion to support hospitals and healthcare providers with adequate staffing and life-saving resources that will enable them to better protect and care for their communities, including in rural Georgia, which has seen two community hospitals close since the pandemic began.
- Robust funding for public health programs, and widespread testing and tracing.
- Child and family-care support for frontline workers.
“With more Georgians getting sick and our hospitals filling up, healthcare workers are being stretched to the breaking point as we do all we can to care for our patients,” said Dr. Kate Miele, MD, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist in Atlanta. “Every single-use N-95 mask that a healthcare worker has to reuse through an entire shift because stocks are low only puts those workers and the people they care for at risk. Every delay in test results because of insufficient supplies forces many Georgians to choose between quarantining while they wait or working for a paycheck even though they may be infected. Every delay in financial support to rural hospitals puts them closer to financial collapse and rural residents without a healthcare home. By refusing to pass COVID-19 relief, Sens. Perdue and Loeffler are turning their backs on every Georgian, including every healthcare worker in our state.”
Georgia’s hospitals are starting to run low on space and staffing. On Monday, 16 hospitals were forced to divert ICU patients. Earlier this week, around 2,200 Georgians were hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since July 31, when 3,200 people were hospitalized. ICUs are at 91 percent capacity in Georgia’s hospitals.
Meanwhile, at least 103 healthcare professionals in Georgia have died from COVID-19 as of Sept. 28, the most recent state-by-state count of COVID-19’s impact on healthcare workers. Georgia’s death toll of healthcare workers is the fourth highest in the nation. Altogether, at least 1,700 healthcare workers nationwide have died from COVID-19. At least 17,300 more Georgia healthcare workers — the second highest in the nation behind only California — have been infected.
“Georgia needs a pandemic relief package right away so healthcare workers can do our jobs and we can all get back to normal,” said Dr. Eduardo Montaña, a Pediatric Cardiology Specialist in Marietta. “Physicians and healthcare workers are bracing right now for rising cases after the Thanksgiving holiday. A surge in COVID-19 cases will strain our resources and push healthcare workers who are already working round the clock over the edge. We need help, we need help now, and the longer Sens. Perdue and Loeffler drag their feet, the longer Georgians will experience pain and suffering.”
Over 200 days ago, in May, the U.S. House passed a relief package that would extend emergency support and resources for hospitals, healthcare workers, public health programs and other pandemic safety measures. Unfortunately, Sens. Perdue and Loeffler, along with their fellow Republican senators, have refused to take any action on the measure, which extends current COVID-19-related relief scheduled to expire at the end of December.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, December 4, 2020