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Ballad Health stresses wearing a mask as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
 
Ballad Health gave updates to the evergrowing rise in COVID-19 cases during a media briefing on Wednesday.
 
Eric Deaton, Chief Operating Officer, revealed they are currently treating 104 virus-related patients in their facilities,  90 are confirmed and 14 of these are suspected and awaiting test results. There are 23 patients in the ICU and 17 are on ventilators. 
 
In contrast to these latest numbers, there were four patients being treated in-house for the virus one month ago.
 
“Week to week our numbers continue to grow, and we remain seriously concerned about the continued increase in COVID-19 cases across our region,” he said. “COVID-19 is a serious threat to all of us and to our region and to every individual regardless of their age. No one is exempt from this virus.”
 
Deaton urged the public to continue wearing their masks and following hygiene and social distancing practices.
 
There were 879 COVID-19 positive cases within Ballad two weeks ago and 1,198 COVID-19 positive cases last week. As of Wednesday, cases for this week are already over the previous weeks’ numbers. 
 
Along with the rise in cases has come an increase in tests. Deaton explained that a delay in test results, sometimes taking up to 14 days to come back, is a nationwide issue.
 
There are also limited in-house tests for Ballad to use, therefore they are being used for emergency cases. In general, Ballad is now doing over 800 tests a day. There have been increases in both tests and cases.
 
Lisa Smithgall, Chief Nursing Executive, described that the virus can be devastating to anyone of any age. She explained that young, otherwise healthy people, have succumbed to fighting for their life on a ventilator. 
 
Smithgall reiterated Deaton’s plea for the public to wear masks.
 
“If you’re not taking this seriously, I beg you to do that from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “I wear my mask everywhere I go and I’m asking you to do that as well. Keep out of large crowds, especially around people you don’t live in the house with and wash your hands frequently. It’s not too late to do your part.”
 
Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, continued this message of mask-wearing and the importance behind it.
 
He also stressed that those who have recovered from the virus should consider donating plasma to help aid in treating those still critically ill.
 
Arrangements to donate can be done by contacting the Marsh Regional Blood Center at 423-230-5640.
 
For the latest updates from Ballad Health, you can go to www.balladhealth.org