COVID death rate more than doubles at UT Medical Center, officials report

East Tennessee hospital officials held a news briefing to express concern about how COVID-19 is affecting the region’s healthcare system.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:03 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:58 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Since the start of August, the daily COVID-19 death rate has more than doubled at University of Tennessee Medical Center, according to Dr. James Shamiyeh.

The average rate of daily COVID-19 related deaths from March 1, 2020 through August 1, 2021 was about one death every two days, Dr. Shamiyeh said. During the recent spike in East Tennessee cases between August 1, 2021 though September 13, 2021, UT Medical Center reports a death rate of about one death every single day.

This means that the death rate at the hospital has more than doubled in the last 44 days compared to the rest of the pandemic.

The data was rolled out during a news briefing held by officials representing East Tennessee hospitals to update how the virus is affecting the region’s healthcare system.

Representatives from University of Tennessee Medical Center, Covenant Health, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Tennova and Blount Memorial Hospital urged Tennesseans to get vaccinated. They said the vast majority of vaccinated patients who come to their hospitals with COVID-19 do not have severe cases of the virus. Severe COVID-19 cases, doctors said, can lead to hospital-wide backups because of the intense care doctors must allocate to those patients.

“There’s a domino effect created,” Dr. Shamiyeh.

Hospital representatives also addressed the growing spread of misinformation about COVID-19, saying the situation in hospitals is serious.

“I’ve heard the ‘things aren’t real’ [argument]. I assure you, if you walk through our hospitals you will see that it is as real as it gets,” Dr. Harold Naramore with Blount Memorial Hospital said.

Officials also asked Tennesseans to continue to take basic steps to curb the spread of COVID-19, like wearing masks and washing hands.

“Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate,” Dr. Naramore said. “Please wear a mask, please socially distance, please wash your hands, especially if you’ve chosen to not get vaccinated.”

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