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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Atlanta

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Atlanta, GA. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market – to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Atlanta’s leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you’re looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Atlanta. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it’s easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Atlanta, GA. We’re proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We’re here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That’s why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Atlanta,
what are we talking about?

Feta Cheese

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

Baklava

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Atlanta, GA, you won’t want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it’s no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It’s best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party – you’re almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

Shawarma

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason – this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Atlanta, GA.

Hummus

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That’s because it’s considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there’s one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you’re looking to make some positive changes in your life, this “diet” is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures’ foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke – especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery – we’re always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It’s refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn’t have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don’t start with meats and sweets.

4.

They’re tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you’re essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That’s great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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Latest News in Atlanta

$250 refund for all Georgia taxpayers: Kemp announces budget goals

ATLANTA, Ga. (WGXA)--At the Georgia Chamber's annual "Eggs and Issues" breakfast, Governor Brian Kemp announced his biggest plans for this year’s budget; it could mean more money in your pocket.Kemp took the stage before his State of the State Address to say he wants to put more cash in Georgia's pockets.The annual "Eggs and Issues" meeting is meant as a preview of the legislative session. This year, Kemp has big dreams for the 2022 state budget.The highest goal is an income tax refund for all G...

ATLANTA, Ga. (WGXA)--At the Georgia Chamber's annual "Eggs and Issues" breakfast, Governor Brian Kemp announced his biggest plans for this year’s budget; it could mean more money in your pocket.

Kemp took the stage before his State of the State Address to say he wants to put more cash in Georgia's pockets.

The annual "Eggs and Issues" meeting is meant as a preview of the legislative session. This year, Kemp has big dreams for the 2022 state budget.

The highest goal is an income tax refund for all Georgians.

“As governor, I believe we should continue to fund our priorities. Like education, healthcare, and public safety. But also be good stewards of that taxpayer money. Last fiscal year, because we kept Georgia open and fought alongside you in this room to keep communities and businesses afloat, the state collected a record budget surplus. I believe that when the government takes more money than it needs, state surplus funds should be sent back to the hardworking men and women who keep our state moving. Because I believe that’s your money, not the government’s," said Kemp.

He says he would like all taxpayers to receive a $250 refund on this year’s return. Couples filing jointly would receive $500.

Also in his new budget, senior veterans would no longer have to pay taxes on their retirement income.

“...and from the men and women who put the uniform on daily and stand in the gap to keep Georgians safe at home and abroad. These men and women deserve more than our words of appreciation, even though we have many to give. They deserve action that shows our gratitude.”

He says these big moves are possible with the $2.2 billion surplus the state built up over the last year. Take a look at the 364-page annual budget report here.

Kemp also says he wants to put more money into the HOPE scholarship, with a goal to cover 90 percent of tuition for each recipient.

“If Georgia is to remain the top state for business, it is critical that we make every effort to make higher education affordable for students across the state and ensure the American dream can be a reality for all Georgians.”

Hosted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the event drew hundreds of business leaders from around metro Atlanta, who paid upwards of $100 a ticket to rub elbows with Kemp, the General Assembly, Lieutenant Governor, House Speaker, and a U.S. Senator, Raphael Warnock.

Though Kemp has made his announcements, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually happen.

His 2022 budget must first be approved by the house and senate. He'll address the general assembly directly in his State of the State Address on January 13.

‘We are here’: Latino communities grow in rural Georgia

On a warm Saturday in December, a Christmas parade snaked through Tifton, a town of 17,000 located amid sprawling South Georgia farmlands. The parade is a tradition dating back decades, but there was something new to the 2021 edition, which marked the event’s return after a pandemic break in 2020. For the first time, the parade featured a float from the Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia), an Atlanta-based nonprofit.As it wound its way through the parade route, the LCF Georgia float played well-known Latin American villancico...

On a warm Saturday in December, a Christmas parade snaked through Tifton, a town of 17,000 located amid sprawling South Georgia farmlands. The parade is a tradition dating back decades, but there was something new to the 2021 edition, which marked the event’s return after a pandemic break in 2020. For the first time, the parade featured a float from the Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia), an Atlanta-based nonprofit.

As it wound its way through the parade route, the LCF Georgia float played well-known Latin American villancicos, or Christmas carols, a departure from the English-language classics other floats stuck to. Along with Santa hats, LCF Georgia staffers wore shirts that said “proudly Latinx” and “estamos aquí,” or “we are here.”

Many of the Hispanic families in attendance that day took notice. “Miren, son latinos!” a young boy in the crowd told his parents. “Look, they’re Latino!”

The sights and sounds of the Tifton Christmas parade reflect rural Georgia’s changing demographics. In Tift County, where the town of Tifton is located, the total population grew by just 3% from 2010 to 2020, according to data from the 2020 U.S. Census. During that time period, the Latino population countywide surged by nearly 30%, an increase of over 1,000 people.

Even as the state tallied a 10% overall population jump over the decade, rural communities shrank. Rural areas are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as being low-density and removed from urban centers. Among Georgia’s 159 counties, 54 were deemed rural in the 2020 count. Across all rural counties, the population decreased by over 100,000 residents, according to an AJC data analysis, a drop-off driven by reductions in the white, Black and Asian populations.

But as the non-Hispanic population went down, the Hispanic population grew.

Raw numbers are small — there were 45,802 Hispanic residents in the 54 rural counties in 2020, a net official increase of just 1,500 people compared to 2010. Still, a growing Latino population in the Georgia countryside suggests increased diversity in the state isn’t limited to urban areas.

It’s a national trend: According to a study of rural diversity by the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization, burgeoning Latino populations are diversifying rural regions across the country, providing a “demographic lifeline” bolstering otherwise shrinking communities.

Awareness of changing rural Georgia demographics — and new community needs tied to the COVID-19 pandemic — fueled LCF Georgia’s expansion to the Tifton area starting in 2020. With a team of eight local “community navigators,” all sons or daughters of first-generation farmworkers from Latin America, the nonprofit has been granting financial assistance to local families who lost income during the pandemic. They’ve also helped coordinate vaccination clinics and know-your-rights initiatives to prevent worker abuse on the fields.

“In the metro Atlanta bubble, people aren’t fully aware of the magnitude of the Latino population that exists” in rural Georgia, said Pedro Viloria, South Georgia manager at LCF Georgia.

Like other local Latino advocates, Viloria said he suspects the census failed to capture the true size of the Hispanic population in the state, given noncitizens’ longstanding concerns around taking part in the count. Those concerns were amplified in 2020 when the Trump administration unsuccessfully attempted to add a question to the census questionnaire about citizenship status.

Hesitancy could have been especially pronounced in rural communities, where many unauthorized farmworkers work and live. According to a 2018 report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor, 49% of the U.S. agricultural workforce is undocumented.

“I think there definitely was an undercount,” Viloria said. “We know that the [Hispanic] community is bigger than what’s reported.”

Community advocates say Latino migrants are drawn to the opportunities for economic advancement in rural regions, where newcomers have been able to find lower costs of living and plentiful jobs.

“As urban areas gentrify and the costs go up, that pushes out some Latinos,” Viloria said. “Even Buford Highway, which has historically welcomed many Latino immigrants, is seeing some gentrification.”

In 2019, Arthur Morin helped create the Valdosta Latino Association, a nonprofit that serves and promotes the integration of Latino residents in the Valdosta area. Many small counties outside Valdosta registered significant jumps in their Hispanic population since 2010, including Lanier County which showed a rise of 24% in residents who identified as Hispanic.

According to Morin, Hispanic workers with or without legal status tend to look at agricultural worksites for their first jobs when they settle in rural Georgia. As time passes, those workers may branch out and pursue opportunities in industries such as construction or hospitality.

“Something I think is very interesting … is the diversity and the fact that the Latino population is widely distributed,” Morin said. “They’re in the cities, they’re in the countryside … Georgia has Latinos everywhere.”

Ulyssa Muñoz is a South Georgia native, and a community navigator with LCF Georgia. She says a big draw rural areas have is a perception among migrants that they will be safer from immigration authorities there. That perception is well-founded: two metro Atlanta counties — Gwinnett and Cobb — were among those that led the country in terms of immigration enforcement through 2020, before local law enforcement pulled out of a program with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A notable source of Hispanic migration to rural Georgia in the past 10 years has been the explosive growth of the H-2A visa program for seasonal farmworkers. According to the federal Office of Foreign Labor Certification, Georgia had 27,614 H-2A positions certified in fiscal year 2020, up from roughly 5,500 in fiscal year 2010, with the overwhelmingly majority of workers coming from Latin America.

If they were present in the state on census day – April 1, 2020, a date that coincided with the busy spring harvesting season – temporary farmworkers were eligible to be counted, but there’s no way to know if they were.

Though H-2A workers remain in the state only for months at a time, they can become fixtures in the places they live and work.

“A lot of our farms will see a large portion, north of 80 to maybe even 90% of those workers return year after year to the same farm and become part of that community,” said Chris Butts, executive vice president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Associations.

The man behind the wheel at the LCF Georgia Christmas float is part of the Latino population that has settled in rural Georgia over the past 10 years.

Victor Muñoz, 27, made the first of six trips to Tift County in 2015, as an H-2A seasonal farmworker. Each year he came, he stayed in Georgia for 10 months, harvesting everything from collard greens and kale to onions and cilantro. After marrying LCF Georgia’s Ulyssa Muñoz in 2021, Victor Muñoz is here permanently, and still working in the fields. It’s a lifestyle that suits him, he says.

“I like this area, it fits me … I grew up in the countryside.”

On the farm, Muñoz works alongside his two brothers, both of whom are H-2A workers, or “contratados.”

“Most of [my coworkers] are Mexican,” he said. “The work on the field is hard but Mexicans find a way to fight through it, because we come from far away and we have to get ahead.”

Lautaro Grinspan is a Report for America corps member covering metro Atlanta’s immigrant communities.

Where will it snow (or winter mix) in Georgia?

In a place like Atlanta where snow is a novelty, the mention of a possible wintry mix overnight Sunday into Monday has some folks wondering: Will I see it at my house?The question would be of more intense interest if Monday were a school day, but schools begin returning a day later, and many schools in metro Atlanta will have students learning from home.Wher...

In a place like Atlanta where snow is a novelty, the mention of a possible wintry mix overnight Sunday into Monday has some folks wondering: Will I see it at my house?

The question would be of more intense interest if Monday were a school day, but schools begin returning a day later, and many schools in metro Atlanta will have students learning from home.

Where will it fall, in what form and how much? As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the AJC Breaking News staff reports that a wintry mix, which could include snow, is possible for northwest Cobb County, Cherokee and Dawson counties, as part of a winter weather advisory that extends to most of the mountain counties along the Tennesee border. Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Eboni Deon said portions of Fulton County and even western parts of Atlanta could see a dusting of snow.

The National Weather Service says those area could receive anywhere from nothing up to to 1.5 inches of snow, but little or no accumulation is expected, except in the higher mountain areas. For metro Atlanta, that means you’ll need to see it fall, or you’ll miss it. But check back, because weather is fickle and forecasts can change.

4:45 p.m. Sunday update from AJC Breaking News staff: Chances of snow have been moving south into metro Atlanta all afternoon after the National Weather Service put in place a winter weather advisory beginning at midnight through 9 a.m. Monday for portions of North Georgia. Cobb County is now included as officials expect a mix of rain and snow throughout the county. In several counties of extreme North Georgia, the advisory has been upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning with up to 4 inches of snow possible in higher elevations.

Winter Storm Warnings + Advisories now in effect for portions of North GA. 2"- 4" with locally higher amounts possible in the waring.dusting up to 1.5" in some spots possible in the advisory. Winds gusting to 35mph area wide, up to 45mph in the mountains.#Snow #gawx pic.twitter.com/fHaX3hAFq7

— NWS Atlanta (@NWSAtlanta) January 2, 2022

Slight snow accumulation of up to 1 inch could also turn roadways slick Monday morning. Motorists are advised to check road conditions before heading out. Several crews with the Cobb Department of Transportation will work overnight and respond to trouble spots.

5 a.m. Monday update

Georgia hospitals warn of ripple effects from COVID surge

Any hope that the coronavirus’ milder omicron variant would lead to a smaller wave of patients has evaporated in the post-holiday peak of patients needing hospital care in metro Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia.COVID-19′s holiday surge is once again swamping Georgia emergency rooms and filling some ICUs. But this surge is different than others, as the highly contagious ...

Any hope that the coronavirus’ milder omicron variant would lead to a smaller wave of patients has evaporated in the post-holiday peak of patients needing hospital care in metro Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia.

COVID-19′s holiday surge is once again swamping Georgia emergency rooms and filling some ICUs. But this surge is different than others, as the highly contagious omicron sweeps across the state.

While omicron in most cases is milder — especially for the vaccinated and boosted — the sheer number of people catching this variant is putting extreme pressure on an already strained health care system.

The severe cases may be the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a very big iceberg with a big tip. While early indications suggest the omicron variant carries a lower chance of getting seriously ill, the number of people getting infected is astronomical, increasing the odds that some will be very sick, particularly among those who are unvaccinated. The coming weeks will tell how bad that gets and whether ICUs will become overwhelmed and if deaths will follow.

This time around, the mildly ill also are upending the system. Health care workers are catching the virus and needing to take time off work. Patients are flooding into emergency rooms for a COVID-19 test if they can’t find one elsewhere. And some patients being admitted for other health emergencies, such as car accidents or heart attacks, are testing positive for COVID-19. All patients who test positive for coronavirus require isolation and other labor-intensive protocols.

One thing that hasn’t changed since earlier this year: most patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“We are seeing numbers that we never thought we’d see before, quite honestly,” said Dr. Robert Jansen, Grady Memorial Hospital’s chief medical officer. On Monday morning, Grady reported 265 COVID-19 patients, the most the downtown Atlanta hospital has reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

“It really is a matter of the number of people who are infected,” Jansen said. “Omicron is as infectious as anything we’ve ever seen... We have record numbers of patients who are COVID-positive who are in the ICU.”

Around the nation, 142,388 people with the virus were hospitalized on Sunday according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, topping the peak of 142,315 reported on Jan. 14 of last year. In Georgia, 5,210 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, still slightly below the state’s delta wave peak that topped 6,000 at its zenith.

Hospitals report nearly as many in-patient beds in use statewide as during the delta wave as well. And in the Atlanta area, total inpatient bed use is at its high-point for all conditions.

Hospitals report some patients in this fifth wave sought care for another condition and tested positive for COVID-19 incidentally. But metro Atlanta hospital leaders say COVID-19 is putting very high numbers of patients in the hospital and in ICUs. The sickest often have underlying conditions, such as heart illness and asthma, and are brought to the brink by COVID.

Strained to begin with

When patients infected over the holidays began to arrive at hospitals at the beginning of the wave in early December, the facilities were already strained.

Hospitals were short of staff, losing their own workers to infection and quarantine, in addition to existing vacancies created when employees left earlier in the pandemic. Federal data show that staffed ICU beds in Georgia dropped by about 130 since mid-September, the peak of the delta wave. That means staff shortages make those beds unusable.

In addition, patients of all kinds had started to return to the hospital, no longer avoiding necessary care because of fear of COVID.

As a third blow, the summer’s COVID delta wave never fell all the way back down to previous lows; case numbers stalled at a higher level than expected, and patients continued to get sick.

So now, one by one, hospitals from South Georgia to Atlanta to Gainesville are reporting, yet again, too many patients for the hospital to physically hold, too many emergency room patients for staff to handle on time. According to doctors who’ve spoken to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, patients who need to be admitted to the hospital are waiting sometimes overnight in emergency rooms. Emergency room patients are getting treated in waiting areas. Doctors treating other conditions like cancer are seeing available surgery schedule slots narrow, and some say they fear another shutdown in non-essential surgeries is coming.

The AJC learned last week that Piedmont Newton Hospital in Covington postponed some elective procedures to ensure the hospital had enough staffed beds to meet demand. The hospital system didn’t confirm it, but said any “pauses” were made at a local level.

It’s not just hospitals that are jammed. Urgent care centers and testing centers are jammed as well. Some relief is expected soon from the Georgia National Guard call-out made by Gov. Brian Kemp.

“Health systems, all the way from the pre-hospital systems to care delivered in emergency departments to care in the hospital — it is all congested now,” said Dr. Alex Isakov, a physician and Emory University professor medicine said. “If you wait in an emergency department for four, six or 10 or 12 hours, nobody wants that.”

Vaccination ‘essential’

At Northeast Georgia Health system, 81% of ICU COVID patients were unvaccinated this week. At University Hospital in Augusta, COVID-19 hospitalizations now number 117, and more than a third of those were vaccinated. But in the past ten days, the hospital’s ICU COVID-19 population has doubled to 17. Among the 11 COVID-19 patients so sick they needed to be on a ventilator, only one was vaccinated.

With children under 5 still not eligible for vaccination and vaccination rates for older children lagging, they are increasingly needing hospital care. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta last week hit a pandemic record, with more than 100 children in beds at once for COVID-19; only 12% had been vaccinated against the virus.

Vaccination is very effective at preventing hospitalization and death. Studies performed since the variant arrived in October show two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not as effective at preventing infection from omicron as earlier strains, but boosters improve performance against severe disease and transmission.

“One of the most important takeaways is we are still in the thick of this pandemic,” said Dr. Gavin Harris, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University who studies when health systems come under strain.

Vaccinating the public and getting those already vaccinated their booster shots is “essential,” Harris said, but those steps alone won’t get the country through this surge as it takes time for immunity from vaccination to take hold.

Georgians need to mask indoors and in large crowds. Widespread testing to quickly find and isolate infected people is crucial.

“It’s going to take everything to get through the next several weeks,” Harris said.

Atlanta woman stuck in Jamaica after testing positive for COVID-19

ATLANTA — The U.S. State Department is now advising Americans not to travel to Jamaica because of COVID-19 conditions in the country. Lauren Senft said she hasn't been allowed to leave after the resort, where she's staying, told her she tested positive for the virus.She posted a video of herself on Facebook taking an ...

ATLANTA — The U.S. State Department is now advising Americans not to travel to Jamaica because of COVID-19 conditions in the country. Lauren Senft said she hasn't been allowed to leave after the resort, where she's staying, told her she tested positive for the virus.

She posted a video of herself on Facebook taking an antigen test. She said it proves she is negative.

"I had zero symptoms, but here we are," Senft said.

She traveled to the Bahia Principle resort in Jamaica on Jan. 3 with a friend and planned to come home on Jan. 6. She had to be tested by the resort before leaving on Jan. 5 and that's when her test came back positive.

"I've already quarantined for five days, I completely understand, but now I have to quarantine another five days," Senft said.

She said the resort refused to show her the test, and by Jamaican law, she had to take a PCR test, which the resort told her was also positive, but again, would not show her the results.

Senft said she was moved to a room without air conditioning or internet access. She also said the resort did not give her food or water for the first two days.

"We are not asking to put Jamaicans at risk, we are just asking to go home to our country that observes a five-day quarantine," Senft said.

Now, she's been there for seven days and will have to stay until at least Sunday. Senft told 11Alive that the other American citizens quarantining with her are in worse shape.

"Last night, a girl in here had four seizures because she doesn't have her medication she needs," she said.

Senft said the experience has been "very scary." She said she's also tried to contact state legislators in Georgia and the Governor's Office. She's also been in touch with the state department and she said they told her she was at the mercy of Jamaican law.

"The state department called me last night and said the advisory has changed, they had a meeting and changed it to do not travel to Jamaica," Senft said. "I would highly, highly recommend you reconsidering your travel here."

11Alive reached out to the American Embassy there and the State Department about what's happening, but so far, have not heard back yet.

Senft said she just wants to go home.

"Not every law is perfect, I know that, not every law is convenient, I understand that, but laws are put in to place to protect. And if they're not doing what they're intended to do, it's up to us to speak up," she said.

Senft said she's hoping to fly home Sunday, but first she needs to get a "fit to fly" certificate from the Office of the Prime Minister, and she said that may delay her trip even further.

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