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Ballad Health officials discuss  increase in COVID-19 patients

Ballad Health officials discussed an increase in COVID-19 cases during their weekly media briefing on Wednesday. 
Eric Deaton, Chief Operating Officer, stressed that now is the time to remain vigilant with the virus. This vigilance includes masking, social distancing, maintaining proper hand hygiene and getting tested if you exhibit any symptoms.
“It’s really hard to distinguish between COVID-19 and a cold,” said Deaton. “You really can’t.”
As of Oct. 7, there are 99 hospitalized patients, 22 are in the ICU and 16 are on ventilators. There are also 8 PUIs. The positivity rate is 8.3 percent. 
There are between 30-35 designated COVID-19 beds available at the time of this article. 
The increase in cases left officials concerned. Deaton attributed possible causes to larger social gatherings or people no longer following guidelines.
Deaton continued to urge the public to practice wearing masks and for mayors to continue mandates. 
“When you wear a mask, you’re helping protect other people, and when they wear a mask they’re helping protect you,” said Deaton. “I’m asking you not to think about yourself when wearing a mask, but what it may do and how it may impact other people.”
Deaton stressed the gravity and seriousness of COVID-19. 
“COVID-19 is now one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States, just behind heart disease,” he revealed. “Since the first case was diagnosed in the U.S. back in January, more than 200,000 Americans have died from the virus. In the Appalachian Highlands, we’ve lost more than 320 people.”
Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, spoke after Deaton to urge testing and access to it. The Ballad Health website and mobile phone app allow patients to schedule testing online, and tests can include testing for Flu A and B and COVID-19 all in one. 
Those who have recovered from the virus are still being urged to donate convalescent plasma to aid those still critically ill. Blood donations are also needed. When donating blood at Marsh Regional Blood Center, you are given access to free antibody testing, which indicates if you have had the virus, not if you currently do. 
For the latest updates on Ballad Health, go to www.balladhealth.org. To find out about qualifying to donate Convalescent Plasma, call the Marsh Regional Blood Center at 423-203-5640.