NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the Labor Day weekend concludes, Tennessee continues to see a record-breaking number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.
The latest data from the Tennessee Department of Health reveals there are now 3,597 COVID patients hospitalized across the state. Of those, 1,020 are in ICUs. Before this record influx of COVID patients, the previous record was set back in January.
The most recent numbers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center show of the 218 people hospitalized over the last 7 days, 190 were unvaccinated.
"We’re seeing lots of lots people who are unvaccinated who are sick enough to be in the hospital," said Dr. Todd Rice, a critical care physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "There is some exasperation from nurses. It's like if you just would have got vaccinated, you likely wouldn’t be here."
Dr. Rice has been treating COVID patients since the beginning of the pandemic. He said 18 months of grueling work has taken a toll on hospital staff.
"These patients are sick," said Dr. Rice. "They take a ton of resources, energy and time."
Dr. Rice said doctors are also waiting to see if travel and other activities over the Labor Day weekend cause yet another spike in cases.
"Our numbers are high enough right now, I think any increase we see gets buried in the high numbers right now."
Dr. Rice said the only way to reverse the trend is for more Tennesseans to get vaccinated. He said some unvaccinated patients have expressed regrets they didn't get the shot, and he hopes others learn from their actions.
"There is no better way to make sure you don’t get COVID and don’t end up in the hospital than to get yourself vaccinated," said Dr. Rice.