‘Frankly, it’s scary’: COVID hospitalizations could reach record in Memphis area as delta variant rages


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The number of people with COVID in Shelby County is skyrocketing. 

The New York Times reported Wednesday morning that more than 1,000 new COVID cases were confirmed in Shelby County a day before.

We haven’t seen an increase like that since January.

“Despite thinking the most dire times were behind us, we’re now seeing them in front of us, and frankly, it’s scary,” said Dr. John Eick with Methodist Hospital in Memphis.

Hospitalizations in Shelby County are rising faster than at any time during the pandemic and more children are being hospitalized than ever before.

Hospitals here are now treating more than 350 COVID patients, according to data from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. That’s triple the number from three weeks ago.

At this rate, hospitalizations in Shelby County are projected to reach a pandemic high in just days.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital says it’s treating more children with COVID than at any time during the pandemic.

Two children died last weekend. Eight kids are currently hospitalized, and two are in the ICU.

Doctors say as soon as one patient is released, two more are admitted.

They say the biggest concern right now is the delta variant raging in unvaccinated people. They urge parents to vaccinate any kids over 12, and have them wear a mask when school starts.

Doctors say the vaccine is the best hope we have of flattening the curve, but as of Wednesday morning, fewer than half of the adults in Shelby County have been fully vaccinated.

The Shelby County Health Department on Tuesday issued a new health directive recommending, but not requiring, masks be worn in public.

Then, by a unanimous vote, city council passed a resolution demanding the health department make masks mandatory.

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