HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. — UPDATE (Tuesday 1/04/22):
The Hamilton County Health Department reported a record number of over 1,000 new daily cases on Tuesday.
The total number of cases reported was 1,014.
This is the highest number of cases ever since the pandemic began.
UPDATE (Wednesday 12/29/21):
The Hamilton County Health Department reported a record number of new daily cases on Wednesday: 948.
That's the highest daily number reported in Hamilton County since the pandemic began.
The previous record was 655, on January 8th of this year.
Health officials tell us they are expecting the numbers to rise even more.
On Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health urged those wanting to get a COVID-19 test to avoid going to hospitals statewide.
We are working on learning more.
Read more about this current surge below.
With 505 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hamilton County on Tuesday, Omicron is on the rise.
Dr. Jensen Hyde with Erlanger Health System believes that 95% of cases are Omicron at this point.
We reached out to the Hamilton County Health Department who says these are the newest case numbers, not backlogged cases from the holidays.
"We were at 73% last week from single percentage points in a single week," says Hyde. "I don't think I've really ever seen anything like it."
There have only been 7 days throughout the entire pandemic where the case count has been higher. The last one was early September.
New data from the CDC says the incubation period for the Omicron variant is even shorter than the original COVID-19 strain and the Delta variant.
Right now, they believe it is about 3 days.
Dr. Hyde says a shorter incubation period isn't necessarily 'good or bad.'
"I think the thing that we can hope will be the result of a shorter incubation period is going to be a faster peak," says Dr. Hyde.
She adds that while this may be good on a population level, it will stretch the health care system thin because resources are finite.
"When you don't have resources, and you don't have beds, and you don't have nurses, and you have people who are, you know, very, very sick, it takes its toll," says Dr. Hyde.
Hospitalizations are also up, but not at record levels so far.
However, Dr. Hyde says hospitalizations are triple or even quadruple what they were 10 days ago.
"The question isn't whether that's going to happen, because it's happening, it's 'How bad is it going to get before it starts to get better?'" says Dr. Hyde.
She says numerically we could see more hospitalizations this time than we did with delta.
"As of this week, you're 24 times more likely to end up hospitalized if you were unvaccinated compared to being fully vaccinated," says Dr. Hyde.
Dr. Hyde says to have a low threshold when it comes to getting tested, and to get tested if you have any COVID-19 symptoms at all.
"Yes, there are other colds. Yes, there's the flu," says Dr. Hyde. "They're both going around, but you need to make sure that it's not COVID because of the transmissibility and trying to mitigate the spread."
Those interested in getting vaccinated can go here.
To date, there have been a total of 69,122 COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County and 774 COVID-19 related deaths.