Fulton County health officials are projecting at least 150 new COVID-19 deaths in the county by April due to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

“We are on a bad trajectory,” Lynn Paxton, district health director of Fulton County Board of Health, told the Fulton County Board of Commissioners during an emergency meeting on Christmas Eve. “People need to know that this is rapidly expanding epidemic.”

Fulton County mayors were on the call, including Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul and Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens, who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and said he’s had mild symptoms.

The Omicron variant is now is accounting for 73% of recent COVID-19 cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the past 24 hours, there have been 1,769 cases of COVID-19 reported in Fulton County. The seven-day average is now 827 cases.

“That is 391% worse than we were two weeks ago,” said Doug Schuster, planning section chief at Fulton County.

He said the county could see as many as 3,000 cases per day by February without any mitigation efforts.

Although Fulton County hasn’t yet reported any deaths from Omicron, the surge in new COVID cases could start showing a death toll in four to five weeks, said Schuster.

The Fulton County Board of Health is predicting at least 149 additional COVID deaths by April in the best-case scenario. The worst case is 376 additional deaths by April.

“So when people tell you that Omicron isn’t dangerous, eventually people do, depending on comorbidities, progress through the hospital,” Schuster said. “The projections [are] for about 150 more souls to perish with Omicron as a comorbidity.”

At the meeting, Paxton recommended that the mayors of the Fulton cities put in place immediate mask mandates and limit large group gatherings.

Earlier in the week, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had issued an executive order reinstating a indoor mask mandate in the city of Atlanta, including private businesses and restaurants.

At the Dec. 24 meeting, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted to temporarily close senior centers in the county. They plan to revisit the closure at their Jan. 5 meeting. In addition, Fulton County is reinstating mask mandates at county facilities.

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.