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Ballad Health reports 80 percent increase in COVID-19 cases in two week span

Ballad Health officials revealed an 80 percent growth in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks during their weekly media briefing on Wednesday.
Chief Operating Officer/Incident Commander, Eric Deaton, said the source of virus spread is mainly community based. 
“There is every indication that we have significant virus spread in our communities, and the situation is extremely concerning,” he said. 
According to Deaton, current cases have also exceeded the large spike previously experienced in early August. 
There is currently a 12.6 positivity rate, which is the highest it has been. As of Wednesday there are 135 in-house patients, 21 of which are in the ICU and ten are on ventilators. An additional 29 patients are under investigation (PUIs). ( Note: these numbers are as of Oct. 21, 2020, and this does change daily). Deaton said cases are expected to grow rapidly over the next few weeks. 
Alan Levine, President and CEO of Ballad, referenced a report done by WHO back in April that discussed a worldwide shortage of nurses by about six million. 
“We are seeing that here in this region too,” he said. “There are real consequences for the health delivery system of where we are with these numbers.”
Levine announced that starting at Holston Valley; there will be a deferral of certain types of elective procedures to relieve the burden on nursing staff due to COVID-19 increases. 
“We have to prioritize what we do with our staff,” said Levine. “Right now we are seeing more COVID-19 cases in Sullivan County, so we are going to start at Holston Valley, but Johnson City Medical Center is not far behind, nor is Bristol Regional.”
Levine explained that facilities are not at capacity, and are still seeing thousands of patients monthly; however this is about being proactive. 
“This is about being proactive and planning so that we can care for our community while we prepare for flu season,” he said. 
Along with stressing the importance of mask mandates continuing to stay in place, Levine warned about the dangers flu season could bring this year. 
“If we have the same flu season as last year, it’s actually worse for us because we have COVID-19 too,” he said. 
Jamie Swift, Chief Infection Prevention Officer, reiterated earlier warnings of community spread of the virus. She explained that whenever a team member of Ballad Health tests positive for the virus, a full investigation is conducted. Through contact tracing, a large cause for the virus is community spread. 
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.