No end in sight… COVID numbers continue to escalate in region

Published 9:22 pm Thursday, September 9, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The news concerning the spread of COVID and how it is impacting Ballad Health’s 21-county region is grim according to the healthcare system’s spokesperson, Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton.

“The impact COVID is having is putting a lot of stress on the system today,” Deaton said during Thursday’s press conference. “Our team members, however, are resilient and compassionate. We are going to get through this together.”

Currently, there are 408 COVID inpatients with 20 patients under investigation for the virus. There are 106 intensive care unit patients across the region currently occupying all the ICU beds the health provider has, with some being placed in step-down units.

There are 78 patients currently on ventilators, and five pediatric patients are in ICU at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

Deaton added that the in-patient numbers don’t reflect those patients who are in the Stay at Home program with Ballad providing care to those who are able to remain at home. That number currently stands at 208, pushing the total number of patients being treated to 689.

While the region’s test positivity rate is 21 percent, Carter County is one of the higher areas with 25 percent of those tested receiving a positive result.

One of the most critical numbers, according to Deaton, is the number of those who have expired from COVID.

“There have been 51 deaths over the last seven days, which is a dramatic increase,” Deaton said. “In August, one in four who expired in our facilities were due to COVID.

“The first nine days of September, 40 percent who expired was due to COVID.”

In regard to tracking, Deaton said there could be anywhere from 445 to 640 patients in the hospital by next week and the following week could see numbers anywhere from 479 to 700. He indicated that trajectory could continue as people are now beginning to attend events with large crowds present.

Deaton also shared a graphic that showed of the 408 patients currently in the hospital, 382 have not been vaccinated; 26 have received the vaccine.

Out of the 106 patients in ICU, 103 patients had not been vaccinated and 75 of the 78 on vents also had not received their vaccinations, Deaton said. He added that those numbers support the reports that vaccinations will help keep people out of the hospital.

He also noted that emergency rooms are being “overwhelmed” with patients who want to be tested for COVID. He urges people to go to places like Urgent Care facilities instead.

“The ER does not work on a first-come, first-serve basis as we have to provide care for those facing life-threatening conditions, so this could result in a long wait time,” he said.

Deaton added that in January the average daily testing for COVID was 600 and now there are 1,800 tests being done per day.

With so many tests being done, getting results is taking a little longer. For that reason, he stressed the importance of getting tested quickly at the first symptoms of COVID. Should an individual test positive, he says knowing as soon as possible can cut down on passing the disease to others.

“The variant is spreading very quickly,” Deaton added.