Some Triangle hospitals see number of COVID-19 patients more than double as delta variant picks up speed in NC


DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – The number of COVID-19 patients in Triangle hospitals are on the rise as the delta variant is continuing to spread across the state.

Duke Health has seen its total number of COVID-19 patients in their three hospitals double over the last month.

On June 29 it had 25 patients, but that number has since grown to 52 as of Thursday morning, according to Duke Health officials. 21 of those patients are in the intensive care unit.

“Every bed is filled, and we work every day to move patients as safely and smoothly as possible and care for them in the emergency room, which is very overcrowded,” Dr. Lisa Pickett, Chief Medical Officer for Duke University Hospital, said.

Pickett also said more than 90-percent of the hospital’s COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated and many of them are in their 40s and 50s.

“They’re the ones who are very sick in our hospitals,” she said.

At University of North Carolina Health’s hospitals, their COVID-19 patient numbers have tripled over the last month.

On June 23rd, UNC Health had about 50 COVID patients — now it is caring for about 150, according to UNC Health officials. The officials said about a quarter of those patients are in the Intensive Care Unit.

Dr. David Weber, a distinguished professor of medicine pediatrics in the School of Medicine at UNC, said UNC Health’s hospitals are not quite at capacity yet however.

“We have an adequate number of beds, ICUs and ventilators,” Weber said. But he added they need more healthcare workers to care for the growing number of patients.

“I expect the number of cases we’re seeing to probably increase here over the next two to eight weeks, two to three-fold,” Weber said. “I’m thinking this surge probably won’t peak until September or October.”

Charneseya Moye is a 25-year-old mother of three who was recently hospitalized at UNC REX Hospital with the virus.

Charneseya Moye with her two children. (Contributed photo)

Moye said she put off getting the vaccine because she was pregnant at the time when it came out.

It was shortly after she had her child when she came down with a fever and started to feel fatigued.

“I didn’t want to do anything but sleep,” Moye said. “I was also having trouble breathing. Everything I would do, I would have to cough.”

Moye tested positive for COVID-19 in early May and she was almost immediately put on a ventilator.

She said she almost didn’t survive and now she’s planning to get the vaccine.

“I think people need to get vaccinated, I feel like that’s the only way we can break this chain,” Moye said.

Health officials told CBS 17 on Thursday that to keep the number of COVID-19 patients down, those who are not vaccinated need to get the vaccine. Additionally, health officials are urging people to listen to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance and that everyone should start wearing masks again if they are going to be in crowded areas indoors.

At WakeMed in Raleigh, health officials said they had 55 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and approximately 40-percent are needing ICU care. They also said the delta variant is responsible for the spike in cases, and that more than 90-percent of their inpatients are unvaccinated. 

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