Now is not the time to let guard down
BY IVAN SANDERS
With the recent weather experienced throughout the area, many are making plans for upcoming school Spring Breaks and taking part in outdoor activities such as local high school sports and the type of events that spring brings.
However, one thing that needs to be considered in all the planning and preparations is that COVID-19 is still very much active even with more and more people getting their vaccinations.
An example of this is in the numbers released by Ballad Health on Wednesday that revealed that hospitalizations have increased by three over the last two days resulting in 70 people being reported in the hospital with COVID.
Included in those numbers were a total of 14 admissions with six patients being discharged. There are currently no patients under investigation for COVID.
The message that should be taken from the recent numbers is that the public is still being exposed to COVID and there are cases reported back as positive daily.
A measure of the positivity rate shows that the rate is 13.6 percent over the last seven days, an increase from 12.4 percent on Monday and showing an increase from 9.4 percent which was reported on March 3.
Ballad Health continues to encourage everyone to do their part to reduce the rates of the virus by wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing.
The health group reports that 33,861 people have received their first doses of the vaccine and 28,899 have also completed their second doses.
However, with a population of 56,391 in Carter County and 129,375 in Washington County just to mention two counties, those numbers still don’t cover a large portion of the population locally in the 21-county service area of Ballad Health.
Of those hospitalized, Ballad reports that 14 are in the Intensive Care Unit and seven on ventilators.
There have been 89,832 total positive cases diagnosed in the Ballad coverage area since March 1, 2020, and 1,951 total deaths as the area climbs closer to the 2,000 mark for those succumbing to the illness.
Along with the daily reminders to do the right thing, Ballad is also offering suggestions on Spring Cleaning to make sure everyone is doing the right things for their family.
An example is for the living room cleaning checklist to make sure to wash slipcovers, blankets, and pillows as well as vacuum the sofa and chairs. It is also recommended to clean curtains and blinds and wash inside and outside of windows.
Finally, clean the decor and electronics, and don’t forget to sanitize remote controls.
As previously mentioned, with schools preparing to take Spring Break the advice being given is to stay away from highly traveled locations such as Pigeon Forge and beaches or where large crowds assemble.
However, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that if you must travel to get fully vaccinated if eligible. Also, before traveling get tested with a viral test one to three days before your trip.
Continue to avoid crowds and stay at least six feet from anyone who is not traveling with you.
Also when returning, get tested three to five days after your trip and stay home and self-quarantine for seven days after travel even if your test returns negative.
When in doubt, follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.
While numbers continue to show improvement and more people are being vaccinated, now is not the time to let one’s guard down.