COVID-19 death count makes September deadliest yet

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, September 30, 2021

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

A continued elevated death count has made September the deadliest month yet for Ballad Health’s 21-county regional service area.

Two weeks ago, 71 people had died during a seven-day period. This week, Ballad reported an additional 60 COVID-related deaths, with one of every three deaths at the system’s facilities directly due to COVID-19.

“These are not just numbers, they are real people,” said Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton. “Our message to the community is that COVID-19 is a significant threat to the communities, and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the region.

“We have to face the reality that we are going to be living with the reality of COVID-19 for quite a while. Right now, 50 percent of people who are put on ventilators won’t survive COVID-19.”

There were 324 inpatients in Ballad Health facilities as of Wednesday, a significant decrease from the 413 at the height of the surge.

Deaton said part of that decrease has come from the deaths in the region.

With a positivity rate of 21 percent, 97 patients were housed in the Intensive Care Unit, 73 on ventilators, 15 under investigation for COVID, and three in the pediatric unit.

A total of 2,079 monoclonal antibody therapies have been administered as 300 doses per week are being provided.

Adding the Safer at Home program into the equation, Deaton said the total number of patients being taken care of by the facilities is 526 patients for COVID-related illness.

“As people beginning attending events and holiday gatherings, we could see an increase in cases again. We continue to prepare for higher patient rates in the hospital,” he said.

The health system is moving to bi-weekly updates while still posting their daily scorecards. This move will allow the system to do more one-on-one meetings with businesses and the community to better help them understand the impact of COVID-19.

“Our goal has remained the same through the duration and that is to provide communications with the very best information regarding COVID-19 and we remain committed to doing that,” said Deaton.