Positive cases continue to rise

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2020

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There was a brief, bright spot on Tuesday in the fight against COVID-19 in the Ballad Health System as frontline worker Emily Boucher became the first person to be given the new COVID-19 vaccine.

Boucher, who works at Abingdon’s Johnston Memorial Hospital, was all smiles as she received her first dose in what is to be many distributed to those who are fighting the virus on the front lines as well as those in nursing homes.

While Virginia received their deliveries on Tuesday, Tennessee is scheduled to start administering the vaccine on Thursday.

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And while it was a good sign to see the vaccines arrive locally, the positivity rate and the number of patients that are being hospitalized continue to climb significantly in the area as on Wednesday there were over a dozen deaths reported in neighboring Southwest Virginia with Lee County, Va., reporting 11.

The report card for December 16 showed in the past seven days the positivity rate stands at 24.2 percent with a total of 90 deaths in that time frame.

Since March 1, 2020, there have been a total of 51,498 that have tested positive with a total of 904 deaths in the 21 county area serviced by Ballad Health.

There were 321 patients in the hospital for the reporting day with 74 of those patients in the Intensive Care Unit. Forty-two of those were on ventilators.

The hospital system has a total of 52 COVID beds available for new patients. The scorecard also showed there were a total of 55 new admissions while 58 were discharged.

Seven patients were also awaiting test results.

Officials continue to remind people that there are anticipated surges still expected from the Thanksgiving holiday along with potential surges around Christmas and the first of the year as the area continues to be a growing hotbed of COVID cases in the nation.

Carter County reported 69 new cases on Tuesday with 526 active cases in the county.