CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As the number of active COVID-19 cases in the state continues to rise as the delta variant spreads, Charleston Area Medical Center’s (CAMC) epidemiologist and specialist in infectious diseases has noticed patterns in new patients.

Fred Kern, MD, appeared on a recent edition of MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and shared stories of what he has seen recently in the fight against COVID-19.

“I see a younger population, an unvaccinated population, a population that is often done something such as a major wedding or concert. Something that has put them in an environment where they had a lot of exposure,” Kerns said of recent patients.

As of Friday, the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) confirmed 68.1% of Kanawha County’s population 12 years of age and older has received at least one dose of a vaccine. In the entire state, that number for the 12 and older population is 57%.

Kern said for many serious cases of the coronavirus at CAMC it is a non-vaccinated patient. He said seeing someone in the hospital battling for their life often triggers a family to get the vaccine.

He said medical leaders have to share knowledge in the best way possible about the vaccine. He told an experience on ‘Talkline’ of a person whose son nearly died for the coronavirus and the family did not believe that vaccines were helpful.

“You don’t argue, you try to inform them of the facts. Some people are amenable to learning and some people think that is not the appropriate thing to do,” Kern said.

Kern said hospitalizations at CAMC have trended upwards since the total hit a low point of around ten a few months ago. The total at CAMC is now between 25 and 30 on a weekly basis, he said, which remains less than its peak of around 100 last winter.

Kern expressed the need for younger people to get vaccinated in the coming days and weeks. He said it’s unlikely younger people, in their 20s and 30s, will die for the coronavirus and the numbers show that, but it’s likely a young person may spread it to their older family members.

“The difference between a young person in their 20s getting COVID and their grandma who picks it up from them is 100 fold difference in the likelihood of death. So if a young person picks it up and thinks ‘I’ll do well and won’t be sick,’ that is entirely true. But that not might be the case for their family member or loved one,” he said.

Kern said the coronavirus is also putting a pinch on the hospital system and its workers, due to lack of staff and the virus pulling resources from other aspects of medical care. Kern said many young physicians take talents to larger markets to get more money.

He said there are also 20 to 30 staff members gone per day due to quarantine from COVID-19 exposure or being sick themselves.

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