A COVID-19 testing site in Fulton County. (Fulton County Board of Health)

A surge of COVID-19 cases across metro Atlanta and Georgia has filled hospital emergency room beds and led the state Department of Community Health to call for help from the National Guard, the AJC reported.

Gov. Brian Kemp spokesperson Katie Byrd told the AJC in an email that the state health agency will assess needs and make assignments to high-need areas such as hospitals and testing sites.

COVID-19 cases in Fulton County rose more than 200 percent in the last two weeks, Fulton County reported. The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases surged to 1,430 from the previous seven-day average of 407, which was the highest rate of change since the beginning of the pandemic. Testing positivity reached 30%. The CDC calls a 10% rate high.

The rapid surge led Fulton County to requiring face masks at all county facilities. Senior centers have been temporarily closed through Jan. 5, the Fulton County Board of Health reported.

As the Omicron variant spreads, local residents are lining up at testing sites. But the county’s Board of Health had to stop letting vehicles get in line on Monday hours before the closing time because of the heavy demand.

In related news, Emory University will begin its spring semester in remote format, though its campus will be open, the school reported. In-person learning is expected to resume on Jan. 31, dependent on health and safety conditions.

The private university requires all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 for the spring semester, with only approved medical and religious exemptions, according to its website. They also must be vaccinated for the flu and wear masks in all indoor public and common spaces.

The city of Atlanta also cancelled the New Year’s Eve Peach Drop due to the surge of COVID cases on advice from public health professionals. A number of other big events for the holiday have also been cancelled including the Indigo Girls with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Widespread Panic concert at the Fox Theatre.

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Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.