NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On July 16, there were at least 362 people fighting COVID-19 in Tennessee hospitals, according to the state's department of health.
That number had more than doubled by July 26 — just 10 days later — to 764 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Many of them have one thing in common: they did not get the vaccine.
"They're virtually all unvaccinated persons. Around 98 percent of them are unvaccinated," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "They're younger than they used to be because more of the older persons in the community are vaccinated."
East Tennessee hospitals told 10News they're not changing anything at the moment, but are encouraging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“We continue to follow our COVID-19 policies and procedures for keeping patients, employees and visitors safe at our facilities," said Teresa Gross, a spokesperson for Covenant Health. "We encourage everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine – it is safe and effective for preventing the spread of the virus and protecting the health of our communities.”
East Tennessee Children's Hospital said they're continuing to meet with state and local health departments, as well as other area hospitals to plan their response.
"Children’s Hospital continues to require face coverings inside the hospital and all public areas," said Eric Estep, a spokesperson for Children's. "We are also continuing to screen all visitors, educating staff on safety measures, and encouraging vaccination against COVID-19."
UT Medical Center said they will provide an update on the local situation on Wednesday during the Knox County advisory Board of Health meeting.