Update: Ballad Health reported Friday morning that it was treating six pediatric COVID-19 patients but announced later that number had increased seven after another patient was admitted.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The number of children hospitalized for COVID-19 in Ballad Health hospitals more than tripled Friday to seven, mirroring a trend nationally that has arisen during COVID’s recent Omicron variant surge.

Only one child was hospitalized for COVID on Wednesday, another was added to Ballad’s report Thursday and five more were added Friday.

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) reported 64 children hospitalized with COVID statewide on Tuesday. That number averaged around 10 through November and into mid-December before beginning to climb Dec. 15. It’s moved up even faster since Christmas.

The health system’s daily data showed a slight uptick in overall COVID-19 hospitalizations, from 280 Thursday to 289.

As they have for the past couple of weeks, critical COVID-19 cases — people in intensive care units (ICU) or on ventilators — stayed within a relatively narrow range.

There were 75 people in ICU, down one from Thursday, and 55 on ventilators, also down one from the previous day.

Ballad reported a 25.9% test positivity rate across its 21-county footprint, consistent with rapid increases in test positivity that have followed Omicron’s arrival in more urban areas. On Tuesday — the last day Tennessee reported daily numbers before its transition to weekly reporting — the statewide positivity rate was 35.6%.

The area’s vaccination rate has remained the same the past several days and continues to trail behind statewide data in Tennessee and Virginia, though only Virginia vaccination increases have been reported the past several days due to Tennessee Department of Health’s reporting change.

The following is a breakdown of COVID-19 data provided by Ballad Health on Jan. 7:

  • Total COVID-19 hospitalizations: 289 (+9)
  • Total number of COVID-19 PUIs (patient under investigation): 9 (-1)
  • Total COVID-19 admissions: 39 (+7)
  • Total COVID-19 discharges: 30 (-2)
  • COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit: 75 (-1)
  • COVID-19 patients on a ventilator: 55 (-1)
  • Pediatric patients in Niswonger Children’s Hospital: 6 (+4)
  • Percent of population fully vaccinated: 47.7%

Ballad Health reported Friday that there have been 101 COVID-19 deaths in its 21-county service area over the last seven days.