Ballad Health: Community on track to overcome last winter’s COVID-19 outbreak by next week | WJHL


JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee (WJHL) – On January 5, 2021, Ballad Health reported the highest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized during the winter wave.

Ballad Health officials said on Wednesday that the Tri-Cities were on track to surpass this peak of 361 COVID-19 hospitalized patients over the next week.

Watch the full Ballad Health COVID-19 update below:

As the Delta variant rages across the region, health experts have revealed a sobering fact: the overall average age among COVID-19 cases continues to decline.

Of the 11 children receiving treatment for COVID-19 at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, six remain at the PICU, according to Ballad. Those under 18 represent 28% of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Ballad health facilities.

Dr Myesa Emberesh of the affiliated St. Jude clinic in Niswonger said that as the virus spreads, it mutates and infects more children.

“Last year, children who contracted COVID-19 were mostly asymptomatic,” Emberesh said. “But now more children are getting sick because we are allowing this virus to spread. The more it spreads, the more it mutates.

“Many of these children are under 12 and are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. They are the most vulnerable people in our region. I don’t want to see COVID-19 tear the bodies of children with cancer apart. I don’t want to see them gasping for air and dealing with other symptoms besides chemotherapy.

Emberesh urged those who received the vaccines to get vaccinated to protect those who are unable to take this action against the virus.

Ballad Health’s 21-county service area has lower vaccination rates than Tennessee as a whole. According to the system, only 39.7% are fully immunized, compared to the statewide rate of 41.7% of Tennessee.

Across the Virginia state border, 57.3% of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ballad Health Infection Prevention Chief Jamie Swift has revealed that of 331 COVID-19 hospital patients, 310 are unvaccinated – a staggering 93.65% compared to 6.34% who are vaccinated.

Those who are vaccinated but hospitalized due to COVID-19 are on average around 69 years old, while the average age of hospitalized and unvaccinated patients stands at 58.9 years.

Seventy-seven patients remain in the intensive care unit (ICU); more than 96% of these patients have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the 48 ventilator dependent patients, 47 patients are not vaccinated.

“The only way to stop this is to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Swift said.

She reminded the public that Ballad is continuing its vaccination efforts at the Johnson City Mall on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.