Phoebe warns against large gatherings over the holiday weekend

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – Doctors warn of what could happen after a holiday weekend of large gatherings.

Phoebe is now reporting 33 COVID hospitalizations including 27 in Albany, a 150% increase in two weeks. In response, Phoebe expanded her unit at Phoebe Main dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Derek Heard is the Medical Director of Primary Care for the Phoebe Physicians Group. He doesn’t know if we’re in another wave, but he said it’s up to everyone to control the spread.

Doctors are weary of large gatherings this bank holiday weekend(WALB)

“It also depends on us as a community. As we see the numbers start to rise, in terms of masking again when we go out in public. If we wash our hands, we’ll keep those numbers low,” Heard said.

He wants everyone to be vigilant this holiday weekend. People I’ve spoken to say they’re up to the task.

“My uncle, he died of COVID in hospital. So I know how it is. I will continue to live my life. I pray for other people as well and be careful,” Thomasville resident Rodney Giddens said.

Another Leesburg woman wished to remain anonymous. She’s not traveling this weekend because she said Albany had enough for her and her child to have fun.

COVID hospitalizations have increased by 150% in the last two weeks in Phoebe
COVID hospitalizations have increased by 150% in the last two weeks in Phoebe(WALB)

“We just focus on being outdoors rather than indoors. For the most part, I’m not concerned. Everyone is kind of doing their thing compared to two years ago when nobody was vaccinated,” she said.

Heard said her post wasn’t much different from the last spike earlier this year.

“We want everyone to be able to feel free and have fun. Go out and do the things they want to do. Enjoy being around family and friends, but we also ask that you be careful,” Heard said.

He says washing hands, masking up and avoiding large gatherings are all more important this weekend as we come together. Dr Heard says the uptick is likely due to the recent lack of social distancing and we don’t know how high COVID-19 cases are right now.

“Because we have a lot of people doing home testing. It’s not necessarily reported to the state as a positive test,” Heard said.

Dr. Heard said monoclonal treatments and COVID-19 pills are readily available. They are used to reduce symptoms if you catch the virus. To get them in Albany, you must show your positive test.

For COVID-19 pills, he says four locations are available at pharmacies in North, South, East and West Albany.

For monoclonal antibodies, you can contact (229) 312-(MYMD) to get in touch with Phoebe.

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Sara H. Byrd