KNOXVILLE, Tenn — For the third week in a row, the University of Tennessee Medical Center reported a rise in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
They said there were 132 people hospitalized at UT Medical Center with COVID-19 on Thursday. Around 81% of them were not fully vaccinated. Across East Tennessee, 477 people were hospitalized.
Dr. James Shamiyeh, the senior vice president and chief operating officer of the hospital, said it was very rare for a vaccinated person to need intensive care. He also said it was extremely rare for them to need a ventilator.
Obesity and diabetes were also prevalent among people who had received a vaccine and were hospitalized. He also said that higher age correlates with breakthrough cases. Most unvaccinated people who caught COVID-19 were otherwise young and healthy, he said.
Dr. Shamiyeh said that East Tennessee is on pace to break the previous record of 617 hospitalizations at once. He said that testing rates were also lower than the previous peak in January.
As a result of lower testing, he warned that there could be many undiagnosed COVID-19 cases contributing to the rise of cases in the community.
UT Medical Center recently reached out to the Tennessee National Guard for additional staffing to help manage the surge of cases. They will receive 10 guardsmen to help. Shamiyeh also warned that outpatient services could be impacted as the hospital continues managing the surge.
"The bottom line is that this is ultimately affecting patients across the care system, whether they have COVID-19 or some other issue," he said. "It will ultimately affect all patients."
He urged people to get vaccinated, practice social distancing, wear masks, wash their hands regularly and stay home if they are sick in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.