Delta variant causing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations across the Mid-South

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Delta variant is causing an increase in cases and hospitalizations in the Mid-South.

Right now, neighboring states like Mississippi are seeing a spike in cases and hospitalizations.

Data from the Mississippi Department of Health shows Baptist-DeSoto and Methodist Olive Branch have zero ICU beds available.

RELATED: 13 hospitals in Mississippi have no ICU beds available due to COVID-19 Delta variant spike

Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Health believes we will see more patients from out of state get sent to Memphis hospitals, but he doesn’t think the system will get overwhelmed like it did at the beginning of the year.

“I think it’s unlikely to get to the very large numbers that we saw before for a couple of reasons,” said Dr. Threlkeld. “A lot of people are vaccinated, not enough but a lot of people in fact are, and a lot of the oldest people are vaccinated at the highest percentage.”

Dr. Threlkeld believes hospital systems can handle an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Still, he wants to emphasize we can avoid this by getting people vaccinated.

“It’s very painful to watch people in their 20s and 30s and 40s get really ill and die. It’s just not necessary,” said Dr. Threlkeld. “This vaccination is particular at preventing serious illness or death.”

Right now, neighboring states like Mississippi are seeing a spike in cases and hospitalizations. Data from the Mississippi Department of Health shows Baptist-Desoto and Methodist Olive Branch have zero ICU beds available.

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A spokesperson with Baptist-Desoto said when necessary, it can move patients to nearby hospitals with additional beds. Dr. Threlkeld said he expects to see more of this.

“There may very well be a lot more transfers. That’s where being a large 22-bed system helps because we can accommodate in several places some of those patients,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is sharing a warning. FOX13 was told it had seen an increase in its Mid-South hospitalizations from 14 on June 24 to 78 COVID-19 patients Tuesday morning.

Dr. Threlkeld emphasizes more people need to get vaccinated to avoid severe infection or worse, death.

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“It’s still discouraging to know a lot of people who will be subject to getting sick, and it will be getting younger,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

Dr. Threlkeld said looking at the number of ICU beds available isn’t always the best measure of data because most of them are filled in the morning with patients who went through more complicated elected procedures.