UT Medical Center: Average age of new COVID-19 patients younger than previous waves

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — University of Tennessee Medical Center Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Dr. James Shamiyeh said the average of new COVID-19 patients at the hospital is younger than previous spikes of the virus. On Thursday, Dr. Shamiyeh shared recent COVID-19 data at the hospital ahead of their move to delays some nonessential surgeries starting next week.

The University of Tennessee Medical Center said this week they will delay some nonessential surgeries starting Monday, Aug. 16. Delays will be done on a case-by-case basis.

During the nearly 10-minute weekly update, Dr. Shamiyeh said the average age of COVID-19 patients in their hospital is in the early-to-mid 50s, meaning some people in their 30s and 40s are getting so sick that they’re having to be admitted.

The hospital has added 33 new COVID-19 patients in the past 7 days and 65 over the last month. He notes that 92% of current patients admitted due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“This is very different than what we saw with the last wave,” Dr. Shamiyeh said. “The delta wave is behaving differently in terms of its speed and also in terms of who it is affecting.”

Amid increased strain on hospital systems, Shamiyeh reminds the public to consider going to an urgent care clinic for conditions that require immediate care but are not life-threatening such as minor injuries, rashes, simple lacerations, or a minor burn. UT Medical Center operates four urgent care facilities in Northshore, Lenoir City, Sevierville, and Seymour.

UT Medical Center will continue to reassess when they can resume all nonessential surgeries. While he reiterated that vaccines are highly effective at minimizing the risks of the virus, Dr. Shamiyeh implored the public to continue to follow basic safeguards against COVID-19 like social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks.

“Anything you can do to minimize your risk of COVID-19, whatever that means for you, is something we really think you should try to do right,” Dr. Shamiyeh. “This is very real. We’re seeing very real stories of patients having difficulty and we just want to minimize that as much as possible.

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