‘These are deaths that are preventable’: Ballad Health officials advise to not undermine COVID-19 data and preventative efforts

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Centers for Disease Control reported new data last week, showing how many Americans who died from COVID-19, also had another condition.

The report said for 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. This reveals there were 94% of patients who died from the virus having other “health conditions or contributing causes” — in addition to the virus.

News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun explained why Ballad Health officials advise that everyone take these statistics seriously.

Ballad officials said they are worried about how people are misinterpreting the data, saying that believing the virus only affects the elderly and critically ill is simply wrong.

The system’s health officials said they are worried many undermining the seriousness of COVID-19 could lead to harsher consequences, as we enter the flu season.

“These are deaths that are preventable. If these people had not got COVID-19, the expectation is that they would still be alive today,” Ballad Health chief infection prevention officer, Jamie Swift said.

Top underlying medical conditions linked to the coronavirus deaths.

“If you have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, epilepsy, heart disease. There’s a host of other conditions that would put you in that 94%,” Swift said.

According to the health system, COVID-19 spread continues across all age groups in the region, except for the very young and elderly.

“Again, we see the mask mandates happening. We’re hoping that we’ll see a downward trend of our positives,” Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton said.

Officials believe the mask mandates are working to reduce the spread of the virus. They urged people to continue to practice preventative measures.

Deaton said, “Really, we’re seeing a decline over the last four weeks. That there was a leveling the last previous two weeks but this past week, August 21st through the 29th, I actually saw another decline.”

To date, the health system has provided 332 unit of plasma to patients across the region, and has received 450 donations from people who previously had coronavirus. Those who also wish to donate are asked to contact the Marsh Regional Blood Center.

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