Frustrated and saddened, the heads of 10 Middle Tennessee hospitals and health care systems released an open letter Friday begging the unvaccinated to get protected against COVID-19.

Hospitalization and infection rates are rising precipitously due to the Delta variant, filling beds across the region. The more contagious, faster-acting variant is ravaging the unvaccinated. More than 90 percent of those hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated, the executives write.

“We are all ready to put the pandemic behind us,” reads the letter. “But, unfortunately, we are unable to move forward. Rather than COVID-19 rates falling as the vaccine became more readily available, we are moving in the opposite direction.”

The letter, signed by the heads of Ascension St. Thomas, TriStar Health, Vanderbilt Health and seven independent hospitals, says COVID hospitalizations are “escalating at a rate that threatens to overwhelm the health care system.”

"We are banding together in one unified voice ... to beg you to get vaccinated against COVID-19. … We have seen, firsthand, the unnecessary suffering this horrible disease wreaks on the human body,” they wrote.

Across Tennessee, hospitals are at 89 percent capacity, according to the state department of health. Just above 40 percent of eligible Tennesseans are fully vaccinated.

Read the letter in full below.

COVID letter 1
COVID Letter 2 correct

Like what you read?

Click here to make a contribution to the Scene and support local journalism!