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Ballad Health describes the increase in COVID-19 cases

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
Ballad Health continued the urgency of following guidelines amidst the growing number of COVID-19 cases during a media briefing on Wednesday.
 
Jamie Swift, Chief Inspection Prevention Officer, provided updates on the number of patients being treated.
 
There are 94 in-house COVID-19 patients, 22 of these are in the ICU with 14 on ventilators. There are 55 PUIs, or people under investigation of the virus awaiting test results, that have also been admitted to facilities.
 
Swift aimed to debunk myths surrounding the testing of the virus, such as the belief that cases are only rising due to an increase in tests. She explained that in the spring and early summer, the positivity rate was less than one percent, now this is 10.9 percent.
 
“If our infections were improving, we would see the positivity rate decrease. Instead, we are seeing it increase dramatically,” she said.
 
This increased percentage was also described by Swift to be higher than in metro areas. Knoxville’s rate is 5.3 percent, Memphis’s rate is 8.5 percent and Chattanooga’s rate is 8.7 percent. 
 
She elaborated on the transmission to symptoms in this area is an average of five days, admission to the hospital is about 10 days and ICU admission is about 11 days. 
 
According to Swift, every 12 days, the number of in-house cases is doubling. 
 
“I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a mask, along with social distancing and proper hand hygiene,” she said. 
 
Eric Deaton, Chief Operating Officer, took to the stand to thank mayors for the mask mandate and explored worst-case scenarios should cases continue to increase.
 
A scorecard for the virus was also launched by Ballad, which will be updated daily. This contains the latest information on cases in Ballad facilities, both in the hospital and the ICU. There are also comparisons provided between now and March. 
 
To put a face to the virus, Chris Miller, Chief Operating Officer of Bristol Regional, shared his story. 
 
Miller became affected by the virus in March, one of the earliest in our region.
 
While the exact cause of him contracting the virus is unknown, he said he suspects a trip to Middle Tennessee to aid in tornado relief efforts may be it.
 
A week after his trip, he developed symptoms and 10 days later tested positive. Miller was also one of the first to donate plasma to aid in others still ill from the virus. 
 
“My faith is to the core of who I am,” he said. “I believe that God gives us the opportunity to use dark moments in our lives to help others. I believe the convalescent plasma program was the way I could help.”
 
Marsh Regional Blood Center is also accepting blood donations and performing antibody testing. 
 
One can contact Marsh Regional Blood Center at 423-230-5640. For the latest Ballad Health updates, one can go to www.balladhealth.org