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A Slight Dip For Ballad Health, But COVID-19 Hospitalizations Expected To Go Higher

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The hospital system serving the southwest corner of Virginia and northeast Tennessee experienced 5 record days of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The number of patients dropped a bit Thursday, from 413 to 408. But Ballad Health COO Eric Deaton expects it will continue to go higher until more people get vaccinated. Ballad projections show the number potentially surging past 600 in the next few weeks.

In a weekly news conference, Deaton remembered back to the early days of vaccine deployment. "No one thought we would be at 40% vaccinations. I think I even said I thought we would be over 50, 60 maybe 70 percent vaccinations. I thought our community would embrace it because we knew it was something that was going to work. And so I think we’re extremely surprised by where we are today and it's overwhelming for us."

More than a quarter of the 408 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are in the intensive care unit. Seventy-eight are on ventilators. About 94% of the hospitalized patients are not vaccinated.

Deaton said Ballad hospitals usually have a census of about 1,100 patients. The current census is around 1,400, even with the suspension of many non-emergency surgical procedures.