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COVID-19 death toll rises in the Mid-South as hospitalizations decline

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As some hospital numbers start to level out across the Mid-South, deaths are going up.

At this point in the pandemic, one in 500 people in the United States has died of COVID-19.

Nearly 2,000 of those deaths have been in Shelby County.

Doctors often see mortality rates go up several weeks after hospitalization peaks. This time around, they’re seeing more young people die of COVID-19.

At Baptist Memphis, 113 people are currently admitted with COVID-19. Doctor Steve Threlkeld said it’s a number that’s slowly on the decline.

“Down nicely off our 152 [COVID-19 patient] peak,” Threlkeld said. “The ICU numbers are down a bit, but unfortunately we’ve had several deaths.”

According to the New York Times, as of Wednesday, deaths in Tennessee were up 66 percent from two weeks ago, up 50 percent in Mississippi, and 22 percent in Arkansas.

Wednesday, more than 150 deaths were reported from COVID-19 among the three states.

“Certainly, the hospitalizations numbers follow days to a couple of weeks after the increase in cases, but deaths numbers are harder to connect,” Threlkeld said.

Threlkeld said doctors saw a longer time than usual between increases in hospitalization numbers and mortality rates during this Delta surge. He said it’s a sign of the tragedy of this wave as younger people are getting sicker and dying than earlier in the pandemic.

“With younger people, 20s, 30s, 40s, the ones we’ve lost in the last week or so have been in their 30s, occasionally younger. Those folks can live for some time given the aggressive treatment we can provide before succumbing to the illness,” Threlkeld said.

It’s a fact that’s taking a toll on healthcare workers as they assist some of the 1,936 Shelby County families say goodbye.

“That stuff leaves a mark,” Threlkeld said.

Health officials said this virus is affecting younger people because fewer young people are vaccinated compared to the older population.

You can find a list of places you can get vaccinated here.

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