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Banner Health leaders say hospitalizations trending down, but Delta variant still spreading

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Posted at 4:00 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 20:21:10-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Banner Health leaders say they are encouraged by COVID-19 hospitalizations trending down, but they warn the Delta variant is still spreading, and flu season will be upon us soon.

“If you are in a large gathering you have a very high chance of being infected with the Delta variant if you are unprotected,” said Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel.

Dr. Bessel’s virtual press conference included a chart showing the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

“Out of the 685 total hospitalized patients, 605 were unvaccinated with COVID. Out of 280 in the intensive care unit, 249 were unvaccinated,” she said.

She says there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic about the months ahead. Any uptick in vaccinations, expanded age groups for vaccines, or booster shots could lead to added protection and fewer hospitalizations. However, Banner Health is forecasting a severe flu season.

“Last year was almost a nonexistent flu season," Bessel said. "It is unusual to have a low-level flu season followed by another low flu season. So that is one component which will feed into a severe flu season.”

Bessel says to protect yourself and your community by getting vaccinated.

“Please if you haven't gotten vaccinated, get your COVID-19 vaccine today,” she said. “Remember that influenza season is already starting and right around the corner. It is time for all of us to get vaccinated against influenza. Get your flu shot as soon as possible.”