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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Methodist Hospital is expanding the COVID units at its different hospitals around Memphis, preparing for what’s to come and what it’s already seeing.

In a statement, Methodist said it’s experiencing “a sharp increase in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Our nimbleness allows us to implement plans to expand our COVID-19 capacity in each facility to best meet the needs of our community.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Methodist dedicated a special hospital unit for COVID-19 patients, so they could get the care they need and others could be protected.

Now, as what appears to be another wave of the virus is imminent, with the Delta variant, Methodist is getting ready.

“The rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations serves as a harsh reminder that this insidious pandemic rages on, and brings with it more aggressive and alarming mutations,” the hospital said in a statement.

One thing that is favorable now as opposed to when the virus first hit is we know more about coronavirus. More importantly, now many people have been vaccinated against the illness.

But it’s still not enough. Methodist said, “Vaccines remain our best protection against the virus and it is up to all of us to take personal responsibility to get vaccinated.”

Methodist isn’t the only hospital seeing a surge. Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, the infectious disease expert at Baptist Hospital, said medical facilities can only hope this time around things won’t be as deadly.

“The hope is, the degree of vaccinations, and we are not high compared nationally, but the hope is we have had enough vaccinations given that we won’t see as many people get really ill or hospitalized,” said Threlkeld.

In May 2020, a state run COVID overflow hospital was opened on Union Avenue at the old Commercial Appeal building, to handle a surge in patients. That hospital was never used and Monday, the state announced it was being decommissioned.