Ballad Health: Last week’s new COVID-19 cases 2nd highest since pandemic began

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton delivered sobering news Thursday during the system’s weekly COVID-19 conference — the region saw the second-highest new case numbers since the pandemic began.

The past week’s new case number just missed surpassing numbers seen Dec. 13-19, 2020 amid the winter holiday surge.

The fifth wave of COVID-19 is overwhelming hospital staff struggling to match demands brought on by the influx of inpatients, according to Deaton.

Deaton reported that Ballad is treating 408 COVID-19 patients in-house across its 21-county service area. This brings inpatient numbers toppling over 1,450 total — a number of patients Deaton has never seen.

“If you compare and consolidate the number of patients in the hospital and the Safer at Home, we’re caring for over 689 patients now,” he said.

PHOTO: Ballad Health

Of those hospitalized due to COVID-19, only 26 are vaccinated, compared to 382 patients who have yet to receive the shot(s).

Over a fourth of the system’s COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); of the 106 patients in the ICU, three are vaccinated.

Seventy-eight of those patients is relying on ventilators to breathe — 75 of these patients are unvaccinated.

“If you receive the vaccine, your chances of being hospitalized are much less versus if you’re unvaccinated,” Deaton said. “These are real people, and these are people that we care for in our community every day.”

Deaton said there are currently five pediatric patients receiving care at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, all of whom remain in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

PHOTO: Ballad Health

It was revealed Thursday that COVID-19 has accounted for over 39% of all deaths seen in Ballad facilities during the month of September thus far.

Patients’ ages vary depending on vaccination status — while the average age of Ballad’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients sits at 59.7 years, the age average of those hospitalized who have received the shot(s) is 73.4 years, compared to the much-lower age average of unvaccinated hospitalizations averaging at 58.7 years old.

These numbers have yet to reflect the impact of holiday travel and events over Labor Day weekend, Deaton said.

The complete slideshow is available below:

Watch the full Ballad Health briefing below:

The following is a breakdown of Thursday’s COVID-19 data provided by Ballad Health:

  • Total number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital: 408 (-5)
  • Total number of COVID-19 PUIs (patient under investigation): 20 (+1)
  • Total COVID-19 admissions: 50 (-12)
  • Total COVID-19 discharges: 55 (+3)
  • COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit: 106 (+6)
  • COVID-19 patients on a ventilator: 78 (+6)
  • Pediatric patients in Niswonger Children’s Hospital: 5 (-2)
  • Percent of population fully vaccinated: 40.2%

According to Thursday’s scorecard, the positivity rate stayed the same at 40.2%.

Compared to statewide vaccination rates, Ballad’s service area trails behind Tennessee’s rate of 42.8% fully vaccinated and falls short of Virginia’s rate of 58%.

Ballad used state-reported data to reveal that there have been 51 COVID-19-related deaths in its 21-county service area in the past seven days.

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