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Ballad identifies cluster of positive COVID-19 cases in Hawkins, including three hospital workers

STAFF REPORT • Mar 31, 2020 at 4:15 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Ballad Health has identified a cluster of positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests in Hawkins County, including three Hawkins County Memorial Hospital team members.

The affected team members work in direct patient care roles; however, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ballad Health has taken increasingly stringent measures to proactively safeguard its patients from the infection, including tightened visitation restrictions, increased personal protective equipment (PPE) use and heightened focus on hand hygiene.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health website, Hawkins County still has four positive COVID-19 cases, and there have been 50 tests administered that came back negative.

Meanwhile, Sullivan County has 13 positive and 134 negative; Washington County, 14 positive and 229 negative; Greene County, 12 positive and 61 negative; Hamblen County, two positive and 65 negative, Hancock County, four negative; and Unicoi County, one positive and 21 negative. 

Be especially vigilant for symptoms

To further ensure safety for patients and the rest of the community, Ballad Health is asking anyone who has been inside Hawkins County Memorial since March 20 to be especially vigilant for symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, sore throat and fever. They should also strictly adhere to physical distancing recommendations of six feet or more, and they should remain home unless engaged in essential activities or reporting for work at essential businesses.

Ballad Health team members and physicians who might have been exposed to COVID-19 will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for healthcare workers. All testing will be coordinated with the Ballad Health infection prevention team, its team member health department and the Tennessee or Virginia department of health. If testing occurs, the individual must remain in quarantine at home until the test results are reported.

What to do if you experience symptoms

If a team member or member of the medical staff has been exposed, but continues as asymptomatic, they will not be tested for COVID-19. Team members in direct patient care roles, regardless of potential COVID-19 exposure, wear surgical masks every day to lessen COVID-19’s spread.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should call Ballad Health’s Nurse Connect line at (833) 822-5523, available 24 hours a day. The health system has set up several testing sites throughout the Appalachian Highlands.

For up-to-date information about the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.balladhealth.org/COVID19.

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