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Infectious disease specialist says vaccinations will help decrease this latest surge of COVID-19

Dr. Hiren Pokharna with Baptist Memorial Hospital says healthcare workers are again overwhelmed by this surge of new cases.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New COVID-19 cases across the Mid-South are nearing an all-time high while vaccinations remain low. The 7-day average of new cases in Shelby County is 567. Crittenden County's average is 40 and DeSoto County's is 93. These are highs the area has not seen since vaccinations became available to everyone who is eligible. 

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Hiren Pokharna with Baptist Memorial Hospital has been seeing this upward trend for weeks and said we are not at the peak just yet. 

"We are still foreseeing the peak is going to happen in the next three to four weeks or even longer," Pokharna said. 

Low vaccination rates have been a leading factor in this surge, Pokharna said. Only 38% in Shelby County, 35% in DeSoto County, and 28% in Crittenden County are fully vaccinated. 

"No doubt that if people go and get vaccinated it’s going to take the edge off significantly," Pokharna said.

In Shelby County, the majority of cases are people between 21 and 40 years old. Pokharna said he has seen a lot in this age group among his patients in the hospital.

"The ones who thought that maybe because I’m young they probably don’t need the COVID vaccine," Pokharna said.

While vaccines have been proven to fight against COVID-19, Pokharna said it frustrates him that some people continue to refute this science. 

"When somebody comes in very sick and at that point, they still feel like the vaccine does not work," Pokharna said. 

For information on where to find COVID-19 vaccines near you, click here.

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