Ballad Health: ‘More and more children affected by this pandemic’ as pediatric COVID hospitalizations rise

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health officials revealed on Wednesday that those under 18 years of age account for nearly half of the region’s positive COVID-19 cases.

“A change just from the last week or so shows that 43% of the positive cases that we are accounting for at Ballad Health are patients under 18 years old,” said Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton. “Obviously, that’s very concerning. Some days, we’ve seen a higher percent under the age of 18.

“More and more children are getting affected and infected by this pandemic.”

Another fact that has alarmed regional health experts — the number of pediatric COVID-19 patients in Niswonger Children’s Hospital has tripled from three to nine within the past week.

“Last week, we had three pediatric patients being cared for,” Deaton said. “That increase of six is alarming and relates back to the positive cases we’re seeing in patients 18 and under.”

You can watch the full stream of Ballad’s briefing below:

Deaton said Ballad continues to push for children to wear masks indoors in an effort to slow the rising cases among pediatric patients.

“Evidence shows that when everyone in the room is wearing a mask, it greatly reduces the spread of COVID-19,” Deaton said. “If you have children going to school, we want to encourage them to wear a mask when they’re in school.”

Deaton revealed the health system continues to see a rise of patients who decline more quickly, with 49 COVID-19 patients relying on ventilators.

“That’s concerning because we’re seeing the highest number of patients on ventilators,” Deaton said. “Our highest number was 51 earlier this week. We are seeing higher numbers on ventilators.”

For those who are hospitalized, Ballad noted that a higher number of patients require treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“We’re seeing almost a third of our patients now in the ICU,” Deaton said. “So, these are records we do not want to break.”

Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift continues to urge the community to mask up and get the shots.

“We know the past few weeks have been disheartening,” Swift said Wednesday. “We are very much in a critical phase of the pandemic right now, but we do want to shine some light on some good news and a very significant event that happened this past week.”

The good news was the FDA approval of Pfizer’s double-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

“The approval truly is a result of many months of work, significant data review and a comprehensive review process that has already protected millions of Americans from severe COVID-19 complications,” Swift said. “It very does often make the difference between life and death.”

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