Shelby County health officials project increased COVID hospitalizations among young people


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As state officials push to loosen COVID-19 restrictions and do away with mask mandates, Shelby County doctors warn of a new trend.

Health officials say about 44% of their target goal of people have received their shot, 33% with at least one dose. This comes as experts say we’re slowly beginning to see different trends for those hospitalized by COVID-19.

“We’re clearly seeing in our population in the hospital much younger people than we did six months or a year ago,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain.

Younger people are being hospitalized with COVID-19 complications for longer. WREG asked the health department about this observation at the Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force briefing.

David Sweat with the department said he hasn’t been able to look at the statistics breaking down the ages of those hospitalized but did say he’s heard the same observation.

“So, we’re seeing people hospitalized who are in their 302, 40s, 50s,” Sweat said.

Before, it was people in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Sweat said 18-20% of beds in intensive care units are currently occupied by patients with COVID. They project there will be an increase.

In the last 24 hours, the health department reported an additional 175 new coronavirus cases.

“The number of cases has plateaued,” Jain said. “If it were the natural course of the epidemic, they should be going down.”

Earlier in the pandemic, when elderly patients were in the hospital, they were frailer and unfortunately died. But now, with younger patients, their bodies are more resilient and they’re fighting the virus, staying in the hospital for weeks at a time.

“Where that could potentially impact is that the ICU could become filled with patients and those patients would stay there for a longer period of time,” Sweat said.

Experts say this is just another reason why everyone needs to be vaccinated.

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