Niswonger CEO joins husband in isolation after both test positive for COVID-19

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Niswonger Children’s Hospital CEO is in isolation after her husband — an educator — tested positive for COVID-19, according to Ballad Health CEO and President Alan Levine.

Niswonger CEO Lisa Carter revealed Monday night that her husband is one of three teachers at his high school who tested positive. She has since also tested positive, according to Ballad Health.

“My husband started feeling bad, I guess, around Sunday night. I was actually in some meetings by morning, I didn’t see him when he got up to get ready for school and he text me mid-morning and said he felt really bad and he was probably going to leave school, and of course I encouraged him to go get tested,” Carter said.

She said she had an inkling that he knew his results would be positive because the next text she received from her husband was to tell her that he had wiped everything down with disinfectant and had moved upstairs.

Carter added that it was ironic that the CEO of the local children’s hospital is possibly facing a COVID diagnosis because of something that happened at an area school.

“It’s extremely ironic,” Dr. Carter said. “I think honestly though it really speaks to the nature of the virus, I mean the virus has no idea that I’m the CEO of Children’s Hospital, or cares. And so that’s what we’re dealing with, I mean, we are dealing with a very very contagious virus that is unfortunately right now running rampant through our community.”

In a tweet, Carter drew attention to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and his latest executive order that allows parents to opt-out of school mask mandates.

“If there’s an opting out of masking, it’s not a mandate, it’s not mandated if it’s optional,” Carter said of Lee’s order.

She said especially now she really wishes there had been some mitigation strategies within school systems to prevent virus spread. Carter added that there’s a difference between last school year and this school year saying there’s a lot of focus on how to mitigate spread missing this year.

“Now, I watch and pay attention to every single day,” Carter said. “The number of cases within our region of children under the age of 18, and we’re running about a third of those cases are our kids under 18 years old and so it really is, it’s spreading throughout the schools and again without any of those mitigation strategies we’re just going to continue to see that.”

While both Carter and her husband are vaccinated against the virus, experts stress that vaccinated people can still contract COVID-19, but symptoms tend to be mild for those who received the shots.

She also urged people to get vaccinated as one of the mitigating strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Tucker teaches in Carter County, and they have a 30% vaccination rate in that county,” Carter said. “And so we know that we’re still in it and we’re in it for the long haul because we’ve not taken advantage of some of the tools we have to mitigate it.”

Carter said she is a supporter of keeping kids in the classroom.

“I want kids to be in school,” she said. “I watched my husband last year trying to do virtual learning, in-person learning, virtual learning. It was, it was such a mess. The reality is unless there’s mitigation strategies, and unless there are tools and mechanisms put in place to prevent virus spread, unless that happens, kids are not going to be in school. I mean, my husband is now going to be out of school as a teacher, probably 10 days at least, depending on his symptoms and how it goes.”

Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine said in a tweet Tuesday that Carter’s husband was one of only a handful of people wearing a mask inside the high school.

Levine reminded the public that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other people.

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