CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 rises across the Carolinas, Atrium Health says hospitalizations have also increased, resulting in fewer available beds. Most of these new patients are unvaccinated, according to data from multiple health agencies and hospital systems.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows people who have not been vaccinated are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than people who have been vaccinated.
Atrium Health says it has seen a 1,000% increase in COVID-19 patients in North Carolina and a 1,700% increase in South Carolina, based on data starting at the end of June.
Wednesday, Atrium Health tweeted what it calls "staggering data," showing 94% of its COVID-19 patients on ventilators are unvaccinated.
In North Carolina, statewide COVID-19 patient counts totaled 3,552 Thursday, which is 440 patients shy of the state's all-time high, set back in January. Hospitals report patients are younger and sicker than earlier in the pandemic.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus dashboard, more than one-third of new admissions are adults in their 40s and 50s. Those 18 to 39 years of age make up about 15% of new COVID-19 patients. Close to half of new patients are 60 or older.
With the increased hospitalizations comes increased strain on hospital staff. Atrium Health is encouraging the public to get the COVID-19 vaccine, wear a mask, and seek care in a way that best matches the condition. For example, people with minor illnesses or injuries should consider utilizing a virtual visit or primary care physicians instead of emergency departments, according to Atrium Health.
North Carolina saw a big spike in COVID-19 cases Thursday with 8,620 new cases. It's the highest daily case count North Carolina has had since early February.
In South Carolina, 3,259 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Aug. 26.