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Ballad scorecard shows COVID numbers rise amongst unvaccinated  

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to escalate despite public hopes. As frustration seems to grow, general precautions seem to decline. Along with this, many sources are decreasing the sheer amount of data released on the subject.
Information on specific numbers has become more sparse in 2022. On January 11, the Tennessee Department of Health announced its switch from daily to weekly reports. These updates go up each Wednesday at covid19.tn.gov/data/dashboards. 
The announcement was met by public displeasure, with many on Facebook reaching out to call it a “mistake,” “disappointment,” and “irresponsible” decision.
Sadly, cases continue to grow. According to the February 1, 2022 scorecard by Ballad Health, the positive rate is close to 50 percent. Approximately 443 patients are hospitalized in Ballad facilities for Covid-19. Of these patients, nearly 90 percent are unvaccinated. As of the writing of this article, of the 59 patients on ventilators, 96 percent are unvaccinated, with 91 patients in the Incentive Care Unit (ICU). 
 “The vaccine is the best defense against the virus and protects people from severe outcomes including hospitalization and death,” a team from the Regional Health Department explained to Tomahawk representatives. “As the Critical Indicators Report notes, the majority of severe outcomes in the state are among unvaccinated individuals.”
As for Johnson County, TDH data shows that 188 Johnson Countians are currently hospitalized, and there are 4,568 cases in the county as of its last update.  
Some think the pandemic has not hit the local population or has passed. 
The current conditions offer a thought-provoking picture. For example, the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County closed its doors last week because of exposure. 
On the other end of the spectrum, the Johnson County Courthouse closed early this past Friday to fog the building as an extra precaution. 
TDH reports show that 72 people in the county have died from Covid-19.
The Regional Health Department encourages people to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) safety guidelines, which can be found at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick. 
When asked what the public should know, representatives shared that the health department offers vaccines on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment or drive-in. 
“Self-test kits are available for people who have been exposed to someone with COVID or who are symptomatic between 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., and nurse-administered nasal swab PCR tests are available at the health department Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.,” health officials explained. “Please note that the four free test kits are distributed from the federal level. Individuals can visit this website for more information and order their kits: covidtests.gov.”
The Johnson County Health Department is located at 715 West Main Street in Mountain City. For more information or to make an appointment to be vaccinated, call (423) 727-9731.