Despite a precipitous decline in the region’s COVID-19 new case rate, Ballad Health continued treating about 100 COVID-positive patients this week.
Ballad reported treating an average of 101 COVID patients per day in its hospitals over the past seven days, a figure that has remained relatively unchanged since Feb. 4. On Wednesday, Ballad reported 98 inpatients, including 18 in intensive care with 12 on ventilators, system figures show. Ballad treated an average of 19 ICU patients with 12.5 on ventilators during the past week. These figures are similar to October levels.
The health system now issues updates three times per week, rather than daily.
The Tennessee Department of Health reported nine new deaths Thursday bringing the total to 165 deaths across Ballad Health’s service area this month, an average of 9.1 per day. There have been more than 1,700 since the pandemic began.
Fewer than 800 new cases were reported during the past seven days across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
About 540 new cases were reported across 10 Northeast Tennessee counties during the past week, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Nearly 30% — 160 cases — were reported in Sullivan County, while Hamblen County had 108 new cases and Washington County 73. There were just four new cases in Johnson County and two in Hancock.
The Virginia Department of Health reported 249 new cases during the past seven days across the 10 counties and two cities of far Southwest Virginia. Buchanan and Russell counties tallied the most with 44 and 35, respectively, or 6.2 and 5 per day, respectively. Six new cases were diagnosed in Bristol over the past seven days and 17 in Washington County.
“We’re thrilled the number of cases continues to go down. We’re thrilled to get our hospital capacity back,” said Dr. Karen Shelton, director of the Mount Rogers Health District. “Our community will need to go forward living but still continuing to live smartly. We don’t want to let down our guard because there are many who are not vaccinated and we don’t want surges to occur.
“These variants, we don’t want them to take hold in our communities. So even with the vaccine and the good thing about the counts decreasing we have to continue to be very vigilant and continue to take care of each other,” Shelton said.
The region’s seven-day testing positivity average continues to linger near 15% across Ballad’s service area, much as it has for the past two weeks. Virginia’s seven-day statewide positivity average was 7.8% on Thursday and Tennessee’s was 8.3%. Less than 5% is the target to limit spread.
Sullivan County’s seven-day average was 13.2% with an average of 255 tests performed daily, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Sullivan has added about 38 new cases per day over the past 14 days. Johnson County was at the opposite end of the spectrum with a 1.6% positivity rate on 44 tests per day, with an average of 2.3 new cases per day.
In Southwest Virginia, the seven-day positivity rate for the Cumberland Plateau Health District was 6.8%, LENOWISCO was 7.6% and Mount Rogers was 7.4% Thursday, according to the Health Department.
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