JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — While Wednesday saw a decline in COVID-19 inpatients within Ballad Health facilities, the health system revealed that the true case drop hasn’t begun. Ballad attributed part of the drop in hospitalizations to deaths.

In a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon, Ballad said that the “meaningful decrease” won’t be seen until several weeks.

“We’re approaching a death rate near last winter’s surge, when we had to bring FEMA refrigerated morgue trailers to several of our hospitals to manage the high levels of deaths we were experiencing.” 

Statement from Ballad Health to News Channel 11

Ballad released the vaccination rates among those who are hospitalized in its facilities due to the novel coronavirus and again noted the stark difference between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

Wednesday’s hospitalizations stood at 371 COVID-19 inpatients; of these patients, 343 have yet to receive the shots while only 28 are fully vaccinated.

The plateau of COVID-19 cases within the region is not to be attributed to discharges, but deaths instead, Ballad reported. The health system stated that as the deaths increase, a morgue trailer has once again been put to use at the Johnson City Medical Center.

The flattening of inpatient cases we’re seeing right now is, unfortunately, created in part by a lot of people dying. Unfortunately, this week, we’ve had to utilize the morgue trailer at Johnson City Medical Center due to the high number of deaths from COVID-19, having 20 deaths there last weekend alone.

Ballad Health officials via Facebook

Ballad Health said in a statement to News Channel 11 that one in three deaths in the hospital system is attributed to COVID-19.

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration works to approve emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 12 years and under, the health system urged parents to protect their children against the virus once it becomes authorized.

Ballad Health said that its community vaccination center is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. in the Mall at Johnson City.

Qualifying immunocompromised patients can receive their third doses for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at the vaccination center as well.