Local hospitals prepare for COVID-19 surge in the Fall


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As Fall rolls in, health officials fear COVID-19 will only get worse, creating an increase in hospitalizations.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Shelby County. According to health officials, the county is seeing a 6% positivity rate, which is a 0.9% increase compared to the last 14 days.

“The fall increase, the surge or the fall wave or however you want to phrase it, of the COVID-19 disease has reached Shelby County,” said David Sweat, Shelby County Health Department’s chief of epidemiology.

Hospitals such as Baptist Memorial says they are anticipating that increase, and they are fully prepared. Through Baptist’s Patient Placement Center, nurses and doctors are able to keep a close eye on their bed availability across every Baptist hospital in three states.

“All of this is done in real time,” said Dr. Melrose Blackett, medical director for the Patient Placement Center. “So, we don’t have a significant delay in knowing what we have available. We can know what’s coming online, what’s getting cleaned, what’s dirty, and when that bedroom will be available.”

Officials say if a location were to reach capacity, they have the option to move patients immediately to a new hospital within the system.

“We have so many facilities. We have a lot more capacity than you think,” Blackett said. “So, one hospital may be out of beds, but the other hospital may have beds.”

Health officials say the increase is not just a local issue but a statewide issue. Tennessee is considered in the red zone for cases, meaning we have more than 100 cases per 100,000 people. That’s the 16th highest in the country.

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