VCU Health doctors see rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by variants, urging folks to get vaccinated

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising in Virginia fueled by the spread of variants. VCU Health doctors are urging people to get vaccinated now to hopefully prevent a new wave of the virus.

The increase in cases is not just happening in the Commonwealth, it’s a national trend. This comes as the contagious Delta variant continues to spread, posing a dangerous threat for the unvaccinated population. Health professionals and leaders are now warning of another surge.

After months of declining, the number of COVID-19 cases is starting to slowly climb up again. The Virginia Department of Health reported nearly 700 new cases on Wednesday. Just two weeks ago, the agency reported 180 cases.

“We fully expect there to be another surge in disease later in the summer due to this new variant,” said Dr. Danny Avula, state vaccination coordinator, during a COVID briefing on June 29.

Dr. Avula’s prediction is becoming a reality as the quick-spreading Delta variant spreads across the Commonwealth. According to the CDC the Delta variant currently makes up 83% of new cases in the United States.

Doctors and nurses at VCU Health are trying to get ahead of a potential new wave and are encouraging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Dr.David Goldberg, a hospitalist and frontline worker, treats COVID patients daily. He says the Delta variant is extremely concerning to those who aren’t or can’t get vaccinated.

“It’s very contagious, even more contagious than the original strain of the virus,” Dr.Goldberg told 8News.

The VCU Health physician was among the first to get vaccinated as a frontline worker in January. The virus hit close to home for Dr.Goldberg who lost his grandmother to COVID when vaccines were not available to the general public yet. He’s reminding people that the uptick is real and Virginians need to take it seriously.

“I’m seeing the numbers creep back up and it makes myself and my colleagues who work in hospital medicine and in the ICU–it’s like oh gosh is this another round or wave that’s coming,” Dr.Goldberg said.

Physicians nationwide are now saying it’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Dr. William Carter, a rehabilitation physician at VCU Health, cares for patients after they’ve been released from the hospital. He shared that some are in rehab for months after recovering from COVID, needing care for respiratory issues, extreme weakness, and more. Dr. Carter told 8News he is noticing the slow surge.

“Looks like things are starting to rev up and there’s this slow trickle that’s continuing,” Dr.Carter said. “It is primarily people who haven’t been vaccinated”.

Dr. Goldberg says people who have been vaccinated are protected against severe symptoms of variants. However, the Delta variant could cause severe symptoms, hospitalization, or even death for individuals who are unvaccinated.

In an effort to prevent a new wave and keep cases low, health professionals like Roseann Fletcher are urging folks to roll up their sleeves.

“Those who can get vaccinated we need to vaccinate for those who can’t,” said Fletcher. “Trust our leaders, trust our doctors, trust our team.”

Doctors say to fully protect yourself against the Delta variant you must get both doses of Moderna or Pfizer. Johnson&Johnson is a single-dose vaccine and does not require two shots.

Fletcher recommends anyone who is still hesitant to get the vaccine to call their primary care doctor and ask questions, educate, and build a vaccine plan.

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