‘We need the community’s help now:’ Methodist Le Bonheur reports record COVID hospitalizations Wednesday

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare on Wednesday hit a tragic milestone, reporting its highest-ever daily total for hospitalized COVID patients.

The largest increase in cases came from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. The state Department of Health says the number of children contracting COVID-19 now makes up 40% of all of Tennessee’s cases.

Methodist said in a release that 322 people were hospitalized Wednesday, up from 315 a day ago. Of those, 26% are in intensive care. Cases have increased five times in people under 40.

About 12% of hospitalized COVID patients are fully vaccinated, Methodist said, and the majority of them had underlying conditions or comprised immune systems.

The news left Methodist pleading for the public’s help by getting vaccinated.

“We are definitely headed in the wrong direction in terms of the trajectory of this pandemic. Getting more people vaccinated is the only way to turn a corner,” a Methodist communications specialist said. “We need the community’s help now. We are urging the community to take action to get vaccinated and faithfully practice proven safety behaviors to help slow the spread of this virus.”

Infusions have doubled, the hospital said, so it has opened a second Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Clinic. Methodist now offers infusion therapy at its Hacks Cross and University Hospital locations.

Tennessee is confronting a steady rise in hospitalizations that mirror the drastic numbers from the state’s last peak during the winter.

As of Wednesday, more than 3,300 Tennesseans were hospitalized with the virus — about the same number the state hovered around during a peak in January.

Meanwhile, Tennessee remains in the bottom 10 states for vaccination rates. About 42% of the state is fully vaccinated, compared to the national rate of 52%.

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