A fourth wave of COVID-19 infections is being seen across the country and here in eastern North Carolina. As of Aug. 30, there were 3,612 COVID-positive hospitalizations in North Carolina. This is up from 1,240 just one month ago.

Local data

We continue to see a similarly troubling trend in our region, with COVID-positive hospitalizations in the Vidant Health system rising from 43 on July 17 to 169 on Aug. 30.

Dr. Leigh Patterson, an emergency medicine physician at Vidant Medical Center (VMC) and ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, spoke to the media on Aug. 30 to address the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We are currently seeing record numbers of patients presenting to the emergency department seeking care,” Dr. Patterson said. “We are seeing record numbers of children, more children than we have seen at any point in the pandemic up until now.”

Dr. Ogugua Obi, a critical care physician at VMC and Brody School of Medicine, said the burden of care on hospital team members is immense in the current state of COVID-19 but hospital staff continues to show up and care for a region.

“We have an excellent team of physicians and nurses – our teams are excellent, they’re first-class,” Dr. Obi said. “They’re doing all that they can to take care of our critically ill patients, but we are exhausted. We are seeing more death and suffering in our ICUs than we have ever seen before.”

The data continues to show that the vaccines are effective at lessening the severity and impact of this virus.

On Aug. 29, 87 percent of those hospitalized in a Vidant hospital were not vaccinated. Of those in the Vidant system on Aug. 29, 45 COVID-positive patients were in the ICU with 21 on ventilators. Only two of those patients on ventilators were fully vaccinated. Vidant has had no patients hospitalized due to reactions from the vaccine. The vaccine is available to everyone age 12 and older and appointments can be found at

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Safety, as of Aug. 30, 65 percent of North Carolinians 18 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 60 percent are fully vaccinated.

Get vaccinated today

Dr. Obi asked that everyone do their part to help slow this pandemic and take a COVID-19 vaccine if you are able.

“We know the vaccines are safe, we know the vaccines are effective and the vaccines are very readily available here in eastern North Carolina,” Dr. Obi said. “Please take the vaccine. Take the vaccine to protect yourself, take the vaccine to protect your family, take the vaccine to protect your loved ones, take the vaccine to protect our staff, take the vaccine to protect our nurses, take the vaccine to protect our physicians.  Help us take care of all of eastern North Carolina.”

Dr. Matthew Ledoux, a pediatrician at VMC and Brody School of Medicine, reiterated messages that have been important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 since the very beginning of community spread:

Watch a recap of Monday’s press conference: