Ballad Health: Slight decline in COVID-19 positivity rate

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) Ballad Health reported having 117 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their hospitals, Wednesday.

Twenty-two of those patients are in intensive care and 11 are on ventilators. There are 40 patients hospitalized as they await test results.

Ballad Health officials said they have seen a very slight decline in the positivity rate, however, the rates are still in the 9% to 10% range.

They are encouraging everyone to continue taking precautions.

Ballad Health officials said, according to a Vanderbilt University study, wearing masks could be the reason for this decline.

Ballad Health chief physician executive Dr. Clay Runnels said, “The study showed a clear corrolation between areas where there were strict masking requirements with a slower growth in hospitalizations. It’s really good data. It’s just based on Tennessee. It’s not a national study.”

Chief physician executive Dr. Clay Runnels is encouraging everyone to continue to social distancing, practice good hygiene and wear masks.

“This is not the time to lighten up on requirement or on those personal disciplines because we have to see a much lower growth infection rate before we see an impact on hospitalizations and overall impact on our community,” Dr. Runnels said.

Currently, the health system has 45 COVID-19 designated beds available.

“As far as our hospitalizations, we do have one pediatric hospitalized today. All of our cases are on the spectrum- some are doing well. Obviously, if they’re hospitalized, they’re sick enough to be hospitalized but our cases are stable,” Ballad Health chief infection prevention officer, Jamie Swift said.

Over the last few weeks, convelescent plasma transfusions have more than doubled.

Dr. Runnels said, “I believe the number is 216 transfusions, which is really impressive. It gives me an opportunity, really to thank our folks over at Marsh and then our research department who have worked really hard, along with infection prevention who’s been a big part of that.”

COVID-19 test results are still delayed across the nation but testing continues.

“In addition to our COVID-19 testing sites throughout the Appalachian Highlands, we’ve opened up another location in Southwest Virginia. The Urgent Care located in Abingdon is off of exit 19 is now opened and designated as a COVID-19 testing site,” Dr. Runnels said.

Ballad Health also announced it has expanded its employee assistance program to help with stress and exhaustion of its employees dealing with task of caring for patients with the virus on a daily basis.

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