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COVID-19 cases begin to decline in region

By Richard Rourk

During their Jan. 27 media briefing, Ballad Health officials announced that they are hopeful as COVID-19 numbers decline in the region. According to Ballad Health’s Director of Infec-tion Prevention Jamie Swift, it appears the region is turning a corner in the fight against COVID-19.

“For the first time, in a long time, we are cautiously optimistic,” Swift said. “We still have a high number of cases so we cannot let our guard down. If given the chance this virus will attack again and hard, so we must continue to social distance, wear masks and keep up with hand sanitizing.”

Swift announced that there were 157 COVID-19 positive cases in Ballad facilities. “Of those 157, 29 are in ICU and 21 are on ventilators,” Swift said. “Our positivity rate is 19.1 per-cent and we have seen 138 COVID-19 deaths over the past seven days.” With the decline of positive COVID-19 cases in the region, Ballad has begun to resume elective surgeries.

Ballad Health issued the following press release on Jan. 29: “Following the recommendation of our surgery sub-committee – consisting of physicians and leaders from throughout our system, representing a depth of specialties, markets and expertise Ballad Health has made plans to resume elective surgeries at our facilities, with some procedures able to be scheduled starting Monday, Feb. 1.

The decision to resume procedures was made so we can continue regular Ballad Health operations to the fullest possible extent, while still safeguarding our communities against the continued COVID-19 threat. During this time, we will carefully phase in new surgery procedures increasing our scheduled elective procedures over the coming weeks. Ballad Health will continue to monitor the situation to ensure we’re meeting our patients’ and providers’ needs while moving forward. Thank you for your cooperation during this time. The decision to temporarily suspend elective and non-emergent surgical procedures for the second time during this pandemic was difficult, but it undoubtedly protected many patients, Ballad Health team members and physicians setting them up for successful procedures now,” per Ballad Health’s press release.

Governor Lee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has officially lifted additional restrictions on who can attend or participate in Tennessee K-12 School winter sporting events.

As of Monday, Feb 1, Unicoi County had 43 active cases of COVID-19. According to the Tennessee Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard, there have been 47 COVID-19-related deaths in Unicoi County.

In Northeast Tennessee, as of Feb. 1, Washington County has 421 active positive cases of COVID-19 with 219 related deaths. Sullivan County has 502 active cases and 243 reported deaths.

Greene County has 245 active cases and 127 deaths.

Hawkins County has 278 active cases and 84 deaths.

Carter County has 166 active cases and 132 deaths, while Johnson County is reporting 61 active cases of COVID-19 and 36 deaths.

There have been 618,319 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and 7,975 deaths as a result of the virus in the

State of Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.