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Ballad officials warn against succumbing to ‘pandemic fatigue’ as race to get everyone vaccinated continues

By Richard Rourk

COVID-19 numbers are again on the rise in the region.

With restrictions being lifted throughout the region, Ballad Health officials warn that now is not the time to let one’s guard down in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our staff is a little discouraged as the numbers go in the opposite direction,” said Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift. “We are seeing numbers rise as we race to ramp up vaccinations.”

She noted that the vaccines are only part of the equation. “We have to stay diligent with wearing a mask, keeping our distance and sanitizing our hands,” Swift said.

Ballad Health reported that 94 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in their facilities on Wednesday, March 31. Of those 94 patients, 23 are in ICU and 12 of those patients are on ventilators.

According to Swift, “pandemic fatigue” could be the leading cause of the recent COVID-19 spike in the region.

“I understand that right now many have experienced ‘pandemic fatigue and feel the need to get out,” Swift said. “When you just go out please remember to keep your distance, sanitize your hands and keep wearing your mask. Give us time to get everyone vaccinated.”

Swift said that she is hopeful that the community would take advantage of the latest vaccine phases opening up in the region.

“We recommend that anyone that hasn’t been vaccinated, schedule your vaccination today,” Swift said. “The vaccine is safe and effective. Millions of doses have been given without issue in a majority of the cases.”

As of Wednesday, March 31, Unicoi County had 31 active cases of COVID-19. According to the Tennessee Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard, there have been 49 COVID-19-related deaths in Unicoi County.

In Northeast Tennessee, as of March 31, Washington County has 315 active positive cases of COVID-19 with 239 related deaths. Sullivan County has 430 active cases and 281 reported deaths. Greene County has 89 active cases and 151 deaths. Hawkins County has 125 active cases and 104 deaths. Carter County has 126 active cases and 156 deaths, while Johnson County is reporting 25 active cases of COVID-19 and 38 deaths.

There have been 673,094 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and 9,552 deaths as a result of the virus in the State of Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

According to the CDC, as of Wednesday, the United States has had 30,213,759 positive cases and 548,162 deaths due to COVID-19 since Jan. 21, 2020.