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Health officials expect to see peak COVID-19 hospitalizations this weekend

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 6:43 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A hospitalization peak may hit this weekend. Now, 575 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 in Shelby County.

Currently there are nearly 24,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County, which is double the number of active cases we saw last week.

“Its incumbent upon all of us to do what we can so we don’t add to the burden that our local hospital systems have,” City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen said.

More than 250 more COVID-19 patients are in the hospital now compared to one week ago. In August, Shelby County saw its most COVID-19 hospitalizations with over 700 patients hospitalized.

“Our forecast is this weekend we will surpass the highest level of hospitalizations in Shelby County since we began the pandemic and the trend will continue to increase from there,” McGowen said.

The 575 hospitalized make up just over two percent of the 23,892 active cases.

Doctors said the majority of patients continue to be the unvaccinated in the hospitals. Baptist Memorial Healthcare alone reports 84 percent of patients with COVID-19 are unvaccinated in its network. That number goes up to 88 percent of patients with COVID-19 in the ICU.

In December, 163 people died of COVID-19 in Shelby County, and nearly 1,800 citizens died of COVID-19 in all of 2021.

“Now is the time,” Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Michelle Taylor said. “Don’t worry what you’ve done up until now. Today is the day to go and get vaccinated.”

Still, less than 50 percent of the people in Shelby County are fully vaccinated. Another 2,661 COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday.

Transmission is starting to impact our most vital services from healthcare workers to COVID-19 test administrators, who give on average 5,000 tests a day in Shelby County.

City services have also been impacted by severe absenteeism due to infections.

“Normally our firefighters are on a 24 hour rotation,” McGowen said. “Many of our local agencies have had to put firefighters on 48 hours at a time to provide adequate coverage.”

Police, MATA and waste collection have all been impacted by staffing issues due to COVID-19 as well according to McGowen.

Doctors said along with getting vaccinate and boosted, masks, good hand hygiene, social distancing and avoiding crowds continue to help keep transmission down.

You can find a list of testing and vaccination locations here.

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