Health Experts: COVID-19 Cases Rise, Demand For Testing Soars | WJHL
TRI-CITIES, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) – As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise not only in the region but also in the country, health experts report that the number of people seeking to be tested has skyrocketed.
The region’s largest hospital system said this week it is testing, on average, about 2,000 people a day.
âThis is almost quadruple our previous record of 600 people per day, which was last December 2020,â said Dr Clay Runnels, Chief Medical Officer of Ballad Health. âWe encourage everyone to get tested. You may suspect that you have allergy symptoms or a mild cold or that you may have been exposed, but please consider getting tested at a very low threshold to get tested at this point.
Dr Runnels wasn’t the only health expert urging people with symptoms to get tested. The same goes for the medical director of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, Dr Stephen May.
âThe first thing is if you do develop symptoms, the most important thing is to isolate yourself first, to isolate yourself and to prevent infection from other people,â May said. “So you have time to figure out ‘where’s the best place for me to go for testing?’ and I will definitely make a few calls ahead of time to where you choose to go ahead and see where you want to be assessed in the process of going for testing.
He said it is important for people to wear their masks, keep their distance, wash their hands and prevent the infection from spreading to another location.
âSo we come back to the basics of infection control,â May said. âWear your mask. Keep your distance. If you are sick, by all means stay home, and then you will have time to determine if you may need to go ahead and take a test.
A Bristol woman who recently tested positive for COVID-19 said she made call ahead.
Rebecca Commerton told News Channel 11 that she was exposed to COVID-19 on August 10 by her great-uncle, whom she took to emergency care in Bristol for testing. After he tested positive, she made an appointment as soon as she could and tested negative. She was told in emergency care where she underwent her test that if she started to feel unwell, she would have to be tested again. She immediately got back on the line and tried to make another appointment.
âThey said ‘but you have to watch for the symptoms, you have to retest.’ So I said ‘okay, I’m going to do this, I’m going to make an appointment later in the week and I’m going to retest.’ Well, as the week went on it was said that there was no testing available at the moment, that there were no future testing dates available, âCommerton said.
She bought a pack of two over the counter quick tests from Walgreens for $ 23.99.
“Because I needed to know, should I send my husband to work, should I send my daughter to school?” This is all taken into account, âCommerton said.
She tested negative on Friday. Then she said she started to feel sick over the weekend.
âWell I started to feel sick this weekend after testing negative with HomeKit. Then I took another home test on Sunday night. He tested positive. So I reached out to Ballad’s website, and he kept saying that there was no appointment available, that I can make an appointment for emergency care, âsaid Commerton. .
She then made an appointment for herself and her husband at her local emergency care, but the appointment was refused the next morning.
âSo I went back online, and the closest testing center I could find that could get us in on Monday was Elizabethton,â Commerton said. “So loaded it up, loaded my daughter, we all got a car and we drove until this Monday morning and got tested, and it took them about eight hours to call us with our results, that’s how much they said they were backed up. They had about thirty tests, already in front of us. We arrived at 11:30 am on Monday morning.
Commerton said the anxiety of waiting for her test results for eight hours was overwhelming.
“Because in my mind all I was thinking was okay, where were we all, what have we all done, and who have we been with, who should I call, who are all concerned? “She said.” This goes through your mind, and my husband says ‘this waiting game is killing me.’
âMy husband is vaccinated. I’m not. I work from home, he works in the community, so I didn’t feel like it was an urgent need for me. The follow-up is 8:20 p.m. But at this point, vaccinated or not, people are still dying. “
Commerton said Ballad Health’s nurse connection line (833-822-5523) to schedule an appointment was so overcrowded that during one of her attempts, she spent 45 minutes on the line waiting to make an appointment. you. She was turned back to her local emergency care because she said the nurse on duty didn’t want her infecting other people in the waiting room, and she struggled to find one. online appointment nearby.
âWell, we are offering increased testing, both at our Kingsport and Blountville locations,â Dr May told News Channel 11.
The Sullivan County Regional Health Department offers drive-thru testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
âWe’ve had a really high demand for this type of testing, so some lines have come together on us, and I encourage everyone to remember that there are now multiple sites for testing,â May said. âThere are tests in a lot of pharmacies, there are tests in all emergency care, a lot of primary care physicians now have the tests available. Thus, this test is no longer unique to the health service, it is now integrated into the health system. “
Symptomatic people are encouraged to immediately isolate themselves from others.
âAnyone with a fever, feeling unwell. The other most common symptoms that we see are fatigue, discomfort, sore throat now and a lot of runny nose, or what they think is a sinus infection turns out to be COVID, âMay said. âSo all of these respiratory-like symptoms should consider an assessment to get a COVID test and, in the meantime, more importantly, go into self-isolation. Don’t send them to school until you figure out whether they really have COVID or not. “
Health experts insist the vaccine is the only way to end this pandemic.
âAll the big diseases that have been beaten have been with vaccines, so please get your vaccine, then let’s protect our little ones,â May said.
If you would like to get tested for COVID-19, here are some resources:
- Ballad Health – call 833-822-5523
- Sullivan County Department of Health – call 423-279-2777
- North East Regional Health Office – dial 423-979-4689