Coronavirus — we are failing the test

Published 2:13 pm Friday, December 4, 2020

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Ballad Health announced Friday that its morgue at the Johnson City Medical Center has reached capacity, and the hospital as early as Friday night was expected to begin using a refrigerated morgue trailer parked at its Johnson City facility.
Johnson City Medical Center’s morgue has a capacity of seven bodies.
Ballad Health reports 45 COVID-19 deaths in the past seven days and 732 deaths since March 1.
Five deaths were reported in Carter County Thursday for a total of 61 deaths in the county due to COVID-19. Over the seven-day period ending Nov. 3, Carter County had a daily case rate of 95.5 cases per 100,00 residents per day. The positivity rate for that same period in the county was 23.1 — one of the highest in the region.
Like a note from a teacher to our parents to explain that our effort and performance in an important subject was so far subpar and we were in favor of failing, the missive arrived from Ballad Health Friday morning with the announcement of a full morgue.
The regional trend for cases and deaths because of COVID-19 grows significantly each day, and Ballad Health in an unsigned note to the community Friday, explained it quite well.
We are more than eight months into the pandemic, and we simply cannot let our guard down — not because the Christmas holidays are here. We must take COVID-19 seriously. Our health care workers are stressed.
It is going to take all of us being extra cautious and taking every possible preventive measure to curb the course of the pandemic and avoid a greater health care and economic crisis. Beating this pandemic is incumbent on the effort of us all. And, the numbers this week are indicative of our unsatisfactory performance.
The bottom line is that we are failing the test. The disease is spreading at a seven-day average rate more rapidly than it did even in March through May, when its viral expansion was being discovered before we knew very much at all. Only improvements in medical care have kept deaths from spiraling even more lethally in our corner of Tennessee.
Since Oct. 31, the number of cases and death have grown not only in Carter County and Northeast Tennessee, but all across the state.
Sadly, there is a good chance that each of you knows at least one person who has been either in the hospital or has died from COVID-19.
Back in March and April, ignorance was our enemy. We didn’t know what to do to avoid catching and spreading the virus. We had to learn. But now that we do understand, it’s increasingly apparent we simply aren’t committed to those best practices — wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding social gatherings, and washing your hands frequently.
We need to do more to protect ourselves and to help one another.
Maybe you think you are being vigilant and diligent, that you are protecting and following the rules.
Or maybe you are among those who believe masks don’t work, that you have the personal choice about whether to wear one, that your personal freedom outweighs your commitment to the safety of your family, friends, state and nation.
No, this is about doing the right things for all of us.
We call upon every person in Elizabethton and Carter County to lead by example — wear a mask over your nose and mouth, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and avoid group gatherings.
Please don’t think that a vaccine is going to drop and do this for us. If we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19 and bring our numbers down, we must put forth the effort now.

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