Sentara physicians band together, plead with public to get COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 8:30 AM, Aug 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-14 08:36:51-04

HAMPTON ROADS, VA - As COVID-19 cases in Virginia continue to rise, the latest data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association shows over a thousand people are hospitalized due to the virus. There were more than 2,200 new cases Friday, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Locally at the 12 Sentara hospitals around the region, those being treated are getting younger and younger. The age groups impacted are now 30 to 60-year-olds, where over a year ago, the sickest of patients were the elderly.

On Friday, News 3 got a rare inside look inside the ICU of Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk as medical teams feverishly work to treat COVID-19 patients.

"I am pretty devastated we are here again, and we are tired of losing patients to this disease," said Dr. Mary Baker, a pulmonologist.

The recent surge of cases in Hampton Roads and the Delta variant strain running rampant had four top physicians at Sentara banding together Friday to stress the importance of vaccinations.

"It is clear patients critically ill with COVID are those who are not vaccinated," said pulmonologist Dr. Michael Eggert.

Those people who haven't received the shot are causing others, even fully vaccinated people, to become ill, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Melanie Brown. Brown says the Delta variant is so highly contagious that those vaccinated can also spread it.

"You do not know if you are going to be asymptomatic and then pass it to people that don't have your luck of being asymptomatic," Brown said.

Many of those patients inside local hospitals are on ventilators or advanced life support.

"We are prepared to go back to high-level COVID patients like we saw in January. We're terrified going back to those places," Baker said.

These four physicians pleaded with the public to trust the science and not buy into myths or rumors.

"We do the best we can but we can't guarantee we will save everybody, so please do the right thing," Brown said.

For more information on where you can get the vaccine or on common myths and rumors, click here for Sentara's PSA site.