JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine said in a tweet Wednesday that 750 employees in the hospital system are not at work after testing positive for COVID-19.

Levine said the number of workers testing positive is presenting a challenge for Ballad Health.

“This is putting an enormous strain on the hospitals and patients as we continue doing elective procedures and caring for 350 [plus] Covid patients [plus] others,” Levine wrote.

Ballad Health’s COVID-19 scorecard released on Wednesday stated that there are 349 COVID-19 patients hospitalized and 70 patients in the COVID-19 intensive care units. Of those hospitalized patients, 86% are unvaccinated against COVID-19. Ballad Health reported that 96% of the ICU patients are unvaccinated.

Levine wrote that Ballad Health is doing its utmost to keep from having to defer elective surgeries, and that emergency room wait times “will definitely be frustrating as ER doctors and nurses prioritize those who are highest risk.”

In the tweet, Levine said the region has not yet seen the peak of the omicron variant while it continues to sweep through the area.

“Some schools have closed due to illness and staffing, and many businesses continue to struggle for staffing,” Levine wrote. “We all need to support each other the best we can.”

In replies to the tweet, Levine answered questions from other users who inquired about the vaccination status of the 750 employees who tested positive. He said 79% of those who were out on Wednesday were vaccinated.