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Health officials urge public to take steps to slow spread of COVID-19

By Richard Rourk

During a media briefing held on Wednesday, July 29, Ballad Health officials confirmed that the number of COVID-19 patients and the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU continues to rise in the region.

“We currently have 90 patients in house that have tested positive for COVID-19,” Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton said. “We have 14 patients that are under investigation for COVID-19, bringing our today number up to 104 patients being treated in our facilities for COVID-19. Of those positive cases, 23 patients are currently in ICU and 17 of those patients are on ventilators.”

The patients that are under investigation are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in direct contact with someone who tested positive.

According to Deaton, the upward trend in cases and hospitalizations will continue unless everyone does their part to flatten the curve. 

“We have seen our numbers grow from four patients to 101 in a month,” Deaton said. “If we do not get a hold of this, our numbers can reach 300 patients in house by Sept. 1. … No one is exempt from the virus. It’s important to wear your mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.”

Ballad is looking at an increase in testing and testing times. 

“Tests still can take two weeks to get results, but we are working really hard with our labs to expedite this,” Deaton said. “We are seeing 800 tests a day with a total of 32,000 tests given so far in our region. Please be aware of why you are taking the test. If you are showing symptoms or if you have been in contact with someone positive are reasons to be tested. has a good checklist of symptoms.” 

According to Deaton, Ballad will not make any recommendations on how to start schools. 

“All we ask is that our schools work with CDC guidelines, Deaton said.

Ballad officials continues to praise employees’ response in the face of the virus. 

“We want to recognize the dedication of our team,” Ballad Health Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Smithgall said. “I want to thank our team for their hard work and dedication.”

According to Smithgall, Ballad is currently looking at hiring several positions.

“We are welcoming new team members and we have a number of opportunities for health care professionals,” Smithgall said “If you are interested please visit”

Ballad Chief Physician Executive Dr. Clay Runnels announced that Ballad Health will continue working with the Mayo Clinic to study plasma as a tool to combat COVID-19.

“We will continue to work with the Mayo Clinic to study convalescent plasma,” Runnels said. “We ask those eligible to donate plasma to do so.”

The study examines convalescent plasma as an experimental treatment for COVID-19, as some data indicates patients with COVID-19 might be able to fight off the virus by receiving antibodies from patients who have recovered from the virus.

To check plasma donation eligibility please call Marsh at 230-5640 or by visiting

For more updates, please visit