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'We're not out of this yet': Health officials urge people to use common sense over Labor Day weekend

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the decline at both Houston Medical Center and Coliseum Medical Centers and they want that trend to continue

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the decline at both Houston Medical Center and Coliseum Medical Centers.

On Tuesday, both hospitals had 28 COVID-19 patients.

The last time their numbers were this low was in June.

Penny Stapleton says the ups and downs of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations these last few months has affected her flower business.

"We still are having cancellations for weddings and so forth and we're not gonna have a homecoming, etc., so we hurt in that regard," she says. "I worry for my friends and family and community," but she says as we're heading into fall and people are starting to go back to work, things are picking back up again and she hopes it stays that way.

"It's very optimistic, I'm very pleased and blessed as usual," she says. "I think this community and most communities that I’ve seen are taking care of each other."

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Stewart says he is also cautiously optimistic.

Houston Medical Center has seen a decline in COVID-19 patients since early August, when they were seeing numbers in the upper 40s. 

"We're glad we're getting this little downward trend right now," he says.

Coliseum Medical Centers saw 71 COVID-19 patients, their highest number, on August 3rd. They've been on a decline since then, as well.

Stewart says it gives the healthcare workers a little relief.

"This has been almost like sustained war for several months now," he says. "It is difficult when you are facing the same uphill battle every day."

Let's look back to May.

Two-and-a-half weeks after Memorial Day, COVID-19 numbers went up in Georgia.

Now, as we enter another holiday weekend, Dr. Stewart says we must use common sense, or there could be consequences.

"If people do what they are supposed to do, maybe those numbers will sustain themselves. If we don't and we get lax, then they are going to go back up."

Coliseum Medical Centers also has a message for people planning to travel or host parties this Labor Day weekend:

"We know that we are heading into a holiday weekend where it can be tempting to set aside the infection prevention measures that have helped lessen the spread in our community. If you do decide to attend a Labor Day gathering, we ask you to limit the number of people in attendance, socially distance yourselves when possible, wash your hands often, and make sure to wear a mask."

Stewart says people have to be smart, whether it's Labor Day, or any other day, or we could see another spike.

"We're not out of this yet. I think that the pandemic is here to stay for a while."

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