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Ballad Health urges caution in COVID-19 pandemic

Johnson City Press • Jun 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Health officials say COVID-19 numbers in the region have “ballooned” since the first case was diagnosed in the region about three months ago.

Of the 483 recorded in Tennessee and 291 in Virginia, nearly 100 of those cases have been diagnosed since June 10. Four patients are currently hospitalized at Ballad Health hospitals.

In a Monday news release, Ballad Health officials said caution is especially warranted now during vacation season and as the Fourth of July holiday approaches. More than half of the new COVID-19 cases at Ballad Health have been related to travel, and officials say popular vacation spots such as Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and Florida are now reporting enormous spikes in COVID-19 cases.

“If you choose to travel, I implore you to do so safely. Research where you are going to assess the COVID-19 risk, wear your mask and avoid large groups of people. And when you return, monitor yourself for symptoms for at least 14 days, and do everything possible to limit your exposure to others, especially high-risk individuals,” CEO Alan Levine said in a news release.

“Even if you’re staying local this season, wear your mask any time you’re in public, even if it’s not technically required. Forgoing a mask doesn’t make you brave or subversive — it makes you reckless and a risk to everyone’s health.”

Large gatherings have a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, meaning an increased need for masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing.

Ballad has resumed many of its normal business functions, including permitting elective and non-emergent surgeries and allowing limited visitation. Levine and other health system leaders caution that if local COVID-19 cases continue to increase, restrictions might be put back in place to protect patients and team members.

Through the pandemic, Ballad has expanded its virtual health program, Connected Care, giving patients access to more than 500 primary care and specialty providers. Ballad officials say their facilities are taking enhanced physical distancing measures, increased infection control and new processes and systems to ensure patient safety.

Call Ballad Health Nurse Connect at 833-822-5523 if you suspect you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus. For additional information on COVID-19 efforts, please visit www.balladhealth.org/COVID19.

Story courtesy of the Johnson City Press

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