JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Jamie Swift, Chief Infection Prevention Officer for Ballad Health, said the hospital system has gone from treating 10 to 12 COVID-19 cases a day to treating 120 to 150 cases a day over the past several weeks.
Swift also said they went from having six to seven people in the hospital to 47 people currently admitted with COVID-19.
However, she told News Channel 11 the current numbers still don’t compare to those during the height of the pandemic.
“That’s still so much lower than what we saw there,” said Swift. “But it’s a significant increase from where we were just a few weeks or months ago. And so enough of an increase that we certainly are keeping an eye on what’s going on, trying to let the community know, you know, cases really are on the rise again.”
Sullivan County Regional Health Department Medical Director Dr. Steven May said they have also seen a rise in cases locally.
“We’re averaging in laboratory report of about 40 to 50 cases per day,” said May. “And the severity is not the level that it was in 2020.”
Although the case numbers are rising, Swift said there is no sign of having to return to mask mandates anytime soon.
“Masking is always going to be a good recommendation to protect yourself and others during Covid,” said Swift. “I don’t think there’s going to be this massive wave of mandates and things that people are worried about.”
While mask mandates are not predicted to come back, Swift and May both said the public should still use safe practices to prevent any spread.
“I think at this point really is understanding your risk, your setting, knowing what’s going on in the community,” said Swift. “Knowing, okay, cases are up, cases are down, and being aware of your settings.”
“The CDC currently does recommend that you isolate for five days if you’re positive and then wear a mask for the next five days,” said May.
Officials also say a third booster shot should be available within the next few months. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is set to meet next week to discuss the qualification for the newest dose.