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Ballad Health concerned… COVID-19 shows an uptick over the last four weeks

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
In its Monday update, officials with Ballad Health said that recent numbers are showing that COVID-19 is making a comeback as the positivity rate of 14.2 percent is the highest that the health organization has seen in some time as the number of hospitalizations have trended upward from the mid-60s just a few weeks ago to 109 in-patients on Monday.

This increase may be coming from the security residents are feeling as more vaccinations are being done in the 21-county area served by Ballad Health as more people have stopped wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands regularly.

“We remain attentive really to the fluctuation of cases we are seeing across our region as families and young people go on Spring Break and return,” said Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton of Ballad Health. “We are obviously watching these trends of potential increases in the number of cases.”

Deaton reported that there were 37 patients in the Intensive Care Unit with 15 of those patients being on ventilators. Ballad Health also reported one patient under investigation for COVID-19.

“We are doing a good job of testing,” Deaton said. “We still know there is a lot of COVID. Since March 1, 2020, there have been nearly 93,000 people diagnosed within our 21 counties.

“There have been 1,966 deaths.”

Deaton shared that there have been 71,286 people vaccinated through Ballad Health (39,142 first doses and 32,144 second doses). He also stated that 60 percent of the Ballad Health team members have received their vaccinations.

On Monday, Deaton announced the health system’s unveiling of a post COVID care center to help those who continue to struggle with COVID-19 symptoms post their illness.

There actually won’t be a physical location as the services will be offered virtually with an advocate assigned to each patient in helping them navigate and find various services to help with their recovery.

The pilot program will be for those patients 65 years of age and over.

Deaton was asked if the increases that are being seen are part of what many are saying will be a fourth wave of the COVID-19 virus.

“We have seen some very active strains in our region now,” Deaton commented. “In the last four weeks, we have seen increases in cases week after week.

“We believe that we could be back to over 150 to 160 patients in the hospital over a period of time. That is nowhere close to when we had over 300 but we could see a spike happen.”

Deaton also said that if another spike was to happen he was concerned about the toll that it would take on team members and that the health system is utilizing its Behavior Health unit to meet with team members to prevent burnout.