Are we looking at a resurgence? COVID-19 hospitalizations at Ballad Health hospitals crept above 200 today. That's 11 more patients than yesterday. These are the highest rates since October 28th (172). According to Ballad Health's twitter feed, they have 206 COVID-19 patients hospitalized - 45 of these patients are in ICU and 31 are on ventilators.
The rates have been going down since the middle of November. They fell to 135 in the Ballad Health system on November 15th. Now we are seeing an increase of more than 26%. Admissions are up by 28 since Friday, with 40 new admissions on Monday and 30 on Tuesday.
While hospitalized COVID-19 patients are increasing, there has been a decrease on the number of critical patient with COVID, compared to early November. The influx matches the number of positive tests for COVID in Northeast Tennessee.
In an interview with Sullivan County Heath Department officials, they know the numbers are rising and are continuing to support and promote mitigation efforts.
COVID numbers are on the rise in Northeast Tennessee, says Dr. May, Medical Director of the Sullivan County Health Department. It brings home the importance of vaccination and continued diligence for mitigation measures, such as social distancing, crowd avoidance, and masking.
Our cases in Sullivan and the NE region are slowly beginning to climb again both in the community and in the hospitals.This stresses the most important preventive measure of getting vaccinated followed by safe visiting practices to include masking, distancing, and crowd avoidance to especially protect our most vulnerable. - Andrew Stephen May, MD, FAAFP, Medical Director, Sullivan County Regional Health Department.
The New York Times tracking data shows Lake, and Trousdale Counties in Tennessee as having an infection rate of 1 in 3 people. Only Johnson and Greene Counties in the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee have a rate of 1 in 5. The rest of the region has an infection rate of 1 in 6 people. The only county with 1 in 4 rate at present is Scott County in East Tennessee. The Mayo Clinic has Sullivan County as the highest daily cases at 87.7, and Johnson County as the highest rate per 100,000 in the state, at 63.4.
The Tennessee COVID-19 data reports a total of 451 COVID related deaths in Sullivan County as of November 30th.
Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer, Jamie Swift, says "It’s certainly a concern that we’re keeping our eyes on,” in an interview with the Johnson City Press last week. She doesn't think it will be necessary to return to the numbers experienced in September.
Will we cancel Christmas
No person or entity I have spoken to believes we will have to cancel Christmas, or any other holidays this season due to an increase of COVID-19 numbers. All officials reiterate the need for continued vigilance. "We don't want to let our guard down." It's important for us to remember the things we've learned that do work as we come together with family members and friends during the holidays:
- Stay home if you're sick
- Avoid those who are sick
- Wash your hands frequently, and don't touch your face
- Wash your hands before you eat, and after you use the bathroom
- Don't get in anyone's face - keep some distance while talking
This was by no means and exhaustive list. Use some common sense and follow the recommendation of your doctor. We should all treasure the gifts of family, friends, and fellowship this season. Help the less fortunate if you can, and don't forget to say hello to your neighbors.