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Not out of the woods… Ballad Health officials discuss spike in COVID-19 cases

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
We’re far from out of the woods with COVID-19.
This was described by Ballad Health Officials during their weekly media briefing on Wednesday.
“To everyone who thinks this pandemic is slowing down, or even over, please know, it’s nowhere close to being over,” warned Jamie Swift, Chief Infection Prevention Officer.
According to Swift, despite some flattening to the curve, cases are now increasing in the area once again.
As of Wednesday, Oct. 14, there are 96 patients receiving care in Ballad Health facilities, 16 of these patients are in the ICU, and seven are on ventilators. There are also seven PUIs. The current COVID-19 positivity rate is 11.1 percent.
Full details on cases and positivity rate are released in a Daily Scorecard by Ballad and can be seen online.
Swift went on to debunk the misconception that COVID-19 only affects the elderly. She referenced a new CDC report released last Friday that addressed transmission among young adults, detailing it as an urgent health priority.
“The report especially noted that cases in the south, that’s us, had a higher positivity rate than other regions,” Swift warned.
Eric Deaton, Chief Operating Officer/Incident Commander, reiterated Swift’s warnings by showing the latest models of the virus.
“While our positivity raising is showing a decrease, it’s at 11.1 percent, we are only down 0.1 percent,” he said. “That’s because we were at 11.2 percent yesterday.”
According to Deaton, there were 1,659 cases of COVID-19 this past week.
“This is a very alarming trend as it’s the second-highest we’ve ever had in one week,” he said.
In addition to cases rising, the length of time that patients stay in facilities for the virus is as well. Early in the pandemic, people stayed for about seven days. Now it’s around 8.5 days.
“These patients are very sick,” said Deaton. “This puts additional stress on the patients, families, and our team members.”
Deaton also warned that cases are four times higher than the rate they want to be at, which would be considered “normal.” This new spike, he described, is very concerning. Of the COVID-19 deaths, 82 percent have occurred between August and October.
The urgency to continue guidelines, such as masking, hand hygiene, and social distancing was stressed by Deaton.
Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, spoke after Deaton and encouraged anyone showing symptoms to please get tested for the virus. Scheduling can also now be done with the Ballad Health mobile app as well.
Additionally, those who have recovered from the virus are encouraged to donate convalescent plasma. Blood donations are also needed. Free antibody testing is available with blood donations through the end of this month.
Flu season is also now in full swing, and anyone over the age of six months is encouraged to get their flu shot.
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.