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As NC, SC patient counts surge towards prior highs, hospitals share how many new patients are vaccinated and not

Both North & South Carolina are getting closer to their all-time high COVID-19 patient counts from the winter, as the delta variant makes up nearly all new cases.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hospitals in the Carolinas are feeling the surge in COVID-19 patients as the delta variant spreads through the region. Multiple analyses show a majority of these patients are not fully vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, 3,503 people were in North Carolina hospitals getting treatment for the virus, the count sitting fewer than 500 patients away from the state's all-pandemic high. According to North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services, 856 patients are adults in the ICU, and there are fewer than 300 staffed and available ICU beds left in the whole state. In the 11-county healthcare region containing Mecklenburg County, there are 21 staffed ICU beds left.

In South Carolina, 2,114 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, which is about 86% of the Palmetto State's all-time high for patient counts. South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control reports this metric has risen nearly 23% since last week.

While some instances of fully vaccinated people getting infected with COVID-19 are coming to light, by and large, hospital data shows most of those suffering the worst outcomes from the virus are unvaccinated.

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Atrium Health tweeted what it calls "staggering data," showing 94% of its COVID-19 patients on ventilators are unvaccinated.

"This can be prevented," the tweet concludes.

Medical University of South Carolina posted its vaccination breakdown of coronavirus admissions Tuesday, sharing most patients across its Lancaster, Charleston, and Florence divisions were unvaccinated.

According to MUSC, 81% of its coronavirus patients, 86% of its ICU coronavirus patients, and 92% of its ventilated coronavirus patients were not vaccinated.

Neither state health agency gives daily breakdowns of cases and hospitalizations by vaccination status, but SCDHEC has begun giving analyses of this data every two weeks.

Its latest report from Aug. 17 showed more than 90% of COVID-19 cases and deaths in June and 86 percent of hospitalizations were among people who were not fully vaccinated. The agency found similar rates for the month of July.

Health officials cite the more contagious delta variant as the cause of this latest surge in viral spread. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delta makes up nearly all new COVID-19 cases nationwide and roughly 94% of new cases in both Carolinas.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram