JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Ballad Health has spent 777 days using its Corporate Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) to report and track regional COVID-19 data.
On Monday, the health system announced that the CEOC will close, effective immediately.
“We will celebrate today, but our job doesn’t end,” Ballad’s Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift said. “We are still monitoring cases; we’ll be certainly looking on the horizon watching what’s happening in the state, nation and worldwide.”
The closure of the center followed as the Tri-Cities region experienced a steady decline in COVID positive cases and hospitalizations in recent months.
“We are in a good state,” she said. “I wish we could stay in this state to where we have low positivity. I really hope this is the end and we don’t have another surge. Our job is to keep an eye on that and let you know if that’s changed.”
What Ballad Health dubbed the “scorecard” detailed numbers surrounding coronavirus hospitalizations, deaths, admissions and discharges throughout its 21-county service area in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
Monday, April 18 will mark the health system’s last scorecard, ending the two-year effort to provide the region with ongoing COVID-19 coverage.
“There’s a lot of metrics that we are still very much keeping an eye on,” said Swift. “The data team for CEOC is still looking and projecting for winter and next winter. There is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes, it just no longer has to be our full-time job.”
Ballad revealed there are currently 28 patients receiving treatment in its facilities for COVID-19, with no recent admissions or pediatric COVID patients at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.
The health system used state-reported data to determine that only 3.1% of novel coronavirus tests returned positive within the last week.
Ballad Health sincerely thanks everyone for their Herculean effort in supporting the CEOC for the last 777 days. The health system continues to vigilantly monitor the COVID-19 situation in the Appalachian Highlands and will continue doing all it can to serve our communities.Ballad Health, April 18, 2022
Swift added that the best way to keep the numbers low in the region is to get the vaccine; she urges those who are vaccinated to receive a booster dose.
“We’ve not seen a great booster coverage in this region,” she said. “My plea is if you’re not fully vaccinated but you’ve not gotten that booster, go do that. That is our best shot at staying at this decreased level.”
As other variants of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 emerge in parts of the United States, Swift said it is something they will keep an eye on in the days ahead.
“As long as there is worldwide transmission, there is room for variants to emerge,” Swift said. “We are seeing the sub-variant of BA.2 take off in the Northeast so we are watching that.”
Also effective Monday, Ballad Health removed all COVID-related visitation restrictions in its facilities and offices. However, all visitors and staff are still required to wear a mask in all patient care and public areas.