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Ballad Health warns against COVID-19 misrepresentations

Ballad Health spoke against misrepresentations with COVID-19 during their weekly media briefing on Wednesday. 
The discussion on misconceptions follows a recent report from the CDC that cites 94 percent of COVID-19 deaths as having comorbidities, or one or more additional conditions. 
“This statistic is not a surprise,” said Jamie Swift, Chief Infection Prevention Officer. “This is not anything different from what we’ve said throughout the course of this pandemic. Honestly it holds true with any disease process. If you have comorbidities, you have an increased risk of death.”
Swift said while the statistic was not a surprise, the misinterpretation of the data was. 
“A lot of people are looking at that 94 percent and taking that as it is simply old, critically ill people are dying and COVID-19 is not what caused the deaths,” she explained. “That’s simply not true. These are deaths that are preventable. If these people had not gotten COVID-19, the expectation is that they would still be alive today.”
To further stress moving away from misinterpretation, Swift explained that many in the area would actually fall into the 94 percent criteria with comorbidities. 
“If you have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, epilepsy, heart disease or other chronic health conditions, you are in the 94 percent,” she said. 
Swift, who has health conditions that put her in a higher risk category (including surviving cancer), described how she would be considered as having comorbidities if she contracted the virus and died. She expressed a desire for people to be mindful of what they post online. 
“Every time you write or share a post downplaying this disease, you’re telling everyone who has lost a loved one to this disease that their death doesn’t matter, just because they had another health condition,” said Swift. 
Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, reiterated Swift’s points in comorbidities with statistics on the region and additional health problems, including obesity.
Eric Deation, Chief Operating Officer, presented current models for the virus and stressed the importance of continuing to follow guidelines, including wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing proper hand hygiene. 
Those who have recovered from COVID-19 are asked to consider donating convalescent plasma, which is shown to help aid others still critically ill from the virus. Free antibody testing is being done at the Marsh Regional Blood Center; those who have positive antibodies can also donate. 
There are currently 100 patients in-house with the virus, 19 are in ICU and 13 are on ventilators. There are 20 patients under investigation (PUIs). The positivity rate, which has increased upwards, is 9.8 percent. 
For more information on Ballad Health, go to www.balladhealth.org. To contact the Marsh Regional Blood Center, call 423-230-5640.