KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As the new omicron variant continues to spread, there's another surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. At Tennova Healthcare, there's an increase of people in the ICU and on ventilators.
Tennova's chief medical officer Frank Beuerlein said this surge could've been prevented.
"We get a break and then it comes back again," Beuerlein said. "It's always concerning to see that spike."
It wasn't long ago the Delta variant sparked its own surge of COVID-19 cases. Beuerlein said Tennova saw its last increase in hospitalizations back in September 2021.
Tennova is seeing the same trend, but with the Omicron variant. The latest dashboard from Jan. 7 showed 84 people were hospitalized, 20 people were in the ICU and eight people were on a ventilator.
Beuerlein said each person in the ICU and on a ventilator was unvaccinated.
"It's especially stressful for those in our ICU units who know they are taking care of people that if they had been vaccinated, they may not be there," Beuerlein said. "The vaccine does work. It's like wearing a seatbelt. If you're wearing a seatbelt, it can save you from serious injury or death. The same with the vaccine. If you do get it can save you from serious illness or death."
Tennova said it is equipped with enough beds and ventilators, but as hospitalizations increase, that could change soon.