Ballad Health: Largest 24-hour increase in positive COVID-19 cases since testing began

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) Ballad Health reported its largest 24-hour increase of positive COVID-19 cases since testing began.

The healthcare system has started to look for the latest plans to combat a possible bigger surge in cases.

Over the last 24 hours, Ballad Health officials have seen an additional 18 cases in our community. this is the biggest jump they have seen over a 24-hour period since the healthcare system began testing in mid-March.

“We are pleading with our community to social distance, stay at home, help us protect our community, help us be able to respond as healthcare workers,” corporate director of Infection Prevention at Ballad Health, Jamie Swift said.

As health officials see the number of cases increase daily, they are looking at ways to bring in health care workers to help combat the illness.

“One important role for people who work in the healthcare arena, with a public health background, or with a medical background is to possibly join the Medical Reserve Corps volunteers,” chief operating officer, Eric Deaton said. “This is a great opportunity for healthcare professionals, graduates of health sciences who can really make a difference across our community.”

COVID-19 has claimed a second life in the region.

“This was a resident of Sullivan County who was in the age range of 51-60,” Swift said in a Ballad Health press conference.

It has also infected another Ballad Health team member, which brings that number up to eight. Four of them are out of Hawkins County Memorial Hospital.

“Because of the various opportunities that you may have been exposed, if you were in the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital, we’re asking that if you were in that hospital between March 20th and March 31th, be vigilant for monitoring their symptoms,” Swift said.

Ballad Health CEO, Alan Levine said we should not put mental health on the backburner.

“The most important person to protect you and your mental health needs, is you. Concerned about your family’s health, concerned about people you know who have been affected by this. We all have our limits and it’s okay to seek help when you’re getting to your limits,” Levine said.

If you are someone who has a medical background and are interested in volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps, click here for Tennessee and here for Virginia.

The healthcare system also revealed technology that will help protect those on the front lines.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has become scarce across the nation.

Amazon recently blocked the sale of N-95 masks.

Various education systems are working to create masks free of charge to feel the need in hospitals.

Ballad Health officials announced they have the equipment to sterilize N-95 masks so that health professionals can reuse them.

This is a game-changer that will allow the re-sterilization of up 5,000 N-95 masks, each day.

The equipment currently lets for them to recycle the masks twice.

Levine said, “By virtue, being able to do that, not only can we generally triple the use of our masks, we can actually provide that capacity to physician groups and other organizations in our region.”

Ballad Health is one of the first organizations across the county to actually have the ability to re-sterilize the N-95 masks. Ballad Health is in the process of implementing sterilizing masks and plan to start doing so at the start of next week.

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