KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Officials with the University of Tennessee Medical Center released its eighth COVID-19 update on Friday. In it, Dr. James Shamiyeh said that the number of hospitalizations fell but the number of deaths related to the coronavirus rose this week.
He said that the rise in the number of deaths follows a familiar pattern seen during the pandemic. After cases rise, hospitalizations rise before the number of deaths rise start rising too.
He said that over the past two months, the hospital admitted 918 patients for COVID-19. Out of them, there were 86 patients who passed away. Nationally, he said that 614,531 people have died due to COVID-19 since January 2020.
He compared that number to the number of traffic fatalities and flu-related deaths across the U.S. annually. Around 38,000 people die per year due to traffic fatalities, and he said around 36,000 people die due to the flu every year in the U.S.
Around 181,000 people died due to COVID-19 between Feb. 1 and Aug. 18, while vaccines were available. Only around 1,400 people who were vaccinated died, officials said.
He also discussed recent announcements about boosters and third-doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. He clarified that people who had an organ transplant or equivalent amounts of immune system suppression were eligible for a third dose of the vaccine.
The third dose of the vaccine is not the same as booster shots, Shamiyeh said. Boosters are given at least six months after people first get the vaccine, and only the Pfizer booster shot has been given an emergency use authorization for some groups. State and federal health leaders said that people 65 years old and older should get it.
They also said people between 50 and 64 years old should get a booster shot if they have underlying medical conditions. People from 18 to 49 years old with underlying medical conditions can also get a booster shot.
A list of eligible underlying conditions is available below:
It is also avaialble to peopel from 18 to 64 years old if they are at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their institutional or occupational settings, Dr. Shamiyeh said.
He also urged people to get vaccinated for the flu. He said that a bad flu season could overwhelm hospitals, even if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to improve. He also clarified that people can get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster at the same time as a flu shot.
At the end of the update, he urged people to get vaccinated and wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.