Dropping hospitalizations comes on heels of record deaths

Published 8:49 pm Thursday, September 23, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com

Regional health officials say a drop in COVID-19 hospitalization numbers is driven in part by an increase in deaths, including 71 in the last seven days.

Those deaths have created a need for a refrigerated morgue at Ballard Health’s Johnson City location. “Sadly, this is necessary,” said Alan Levine – Chairman and CEO of Ballad Health on a Twitter post on Wednesday. “Our prayers are with the families of those who have lost people they love.

On Wednesday, 371 inpatients were reported in the 21-county region serviced by the health system. By Thursday, that number had dropped by 18 patients to 353.

The total does not include the 196 positive cases that are receiving treatment at home as part of the Safer at Home program which means that a total of 567 patients are currently being treated by Ballad for COVID-19.

Of the 371 patients hospitalized on Wednesday, statistics show that 93 percent  – or 343 – were unvaccinated while 28 were fully vaccinated.

With the 71 deaths over the past seven days, the region now has reported 611 deaths due to COVID-19 since March 1.

“We continue to see a grim pattern that the majority of our COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated individuals. Ballad Health maintains that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing major illness and hospitalization,” hospital officials said in a statement.

As of Thursday, 18 patients are under investigation for the virus while 107 of the patients in the hospital are in the Intensive Care Unit and 84 of those are currently on a ventilator.

Ballad Health used the term “alarming” in their report in relation to those who are on ventilators. There were also three children in Niswonger Children Hospital being treated for COVID-19.

The positivity rate remains high at 22.9 percent for the seven-day period.

Since reporting began, 55,409 positive cases have been reported by the health system.

Also, Ballad re-emphasized the importance of using virtual health and Urgent Care facilities if anyone is experiencing symptoms to help reduce the emergency department volume in their facilities.