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University of Virginia disease experts compare COVID-19 numbers to those from November

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia Medical Center continues to see more and more patients hospitalized with COVID-19 each week, but most of them are either unvaccinated, or immunocompromised.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the state is now in the 3000s, which is roughly where we were right after Thanksgiving last year.

“There is one huge difference, and that is that we now have an effective vaccine,” UVA Health Epidemiologist Dr. Costi Sifri said. “And we did not have one in November that was, you know, being used and distributed.”

UVA Health says the people being hospitalized are those who are not fully vaccinated. They say this group now includes immunocompromised patients without their third dose.

“If I were seeing an immunocompromised patient in my clinic right now I would be advising them to get three doses of the vaccine to consider themselves to be completely vaccinated,” Dr. Costi Sifri said.

The number of patients in the UVA Medical Center has increased from last week.

“So this morning we had 40 patients, so that’s a little bit up from last week, where we’re in the mid to high 30s,” UVA Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Reid Adams said. “About 20 some of those are acute patients and 15 are in the ICU and then we have a small handful of children of laboring mothers.”

But, UVA Health says they still have space.

“If the questions is do we have capacity to see patients, yes, we have open beds,” Adams said. “They’re staffed and we’re able to take care of the patients that are coming in through our emergency room whether they have COVID or other emergency conditions.”

Earlier in the week, the medical center had to delay elective procedures. They say this was due to staffing challenges and a rise in COVID cases. But, they expect to be back to normal operations next week.

To avoid being in this position again, they urge everyone to get vaccinated.

“It’s frustrating because we have a very effective tool,” Sifri said. “And that, you know, if widely used, we wouldn’t be seeing this situation that we’re seeing now.”

Sifri also said that we should avoid using the term “break-through infections,” when speaking of those who have been vaccinated, because it is misleading. It assumes the vaccine does not work, which is not the case. Instead, we should now say, “infection after vaccination.”

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