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Ballad Health on Friday reported 76 people hospitalized with coronavirus in its facilities, a decrease of one from Wednesday and down two from last Friday.

As of Friday, there were 16 people in intensive care with the virus, and eight (-3) on ventilators. The number of ICU patients has been steady between 16 and 19 since Feb. 15, while the number of people on ventilators is at its lowest point since Oct. 20.

After a steep drop between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6, the inpatient decline has slowed considerably, falling by 17 since then. In the previous month, hospitalizations fell by 268. The number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators has followed a similar pattern, both declining by more than 70% since early January.

Other data notes

  • Washington County reported two new fatalities on Friday, bringing its toll over the past week to seven. No other county has reported more than three deaths over that time period.
  • Northeast Tennessee counties reported three new hospitalizations on Friday, bringing the weekly toll to 20. If the region does not report more than six new hospitalizations over the weekend, it will be the fewest new hospitalizations the region has reported in a single week since Oct. 5-11.
  • The region also reported two new deaths on Friday (both in Washington County), bringing the weekly toll to 15. Similarly to hospitalizations, if there aren't more than six new deaths over the weekend it will be the fewest new deaths in week since Oct. 5-11.
  • Washington County saw its active case count increase by 12, the only county in the region to do so.

Lee extends state of emergency

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee extended a statewide state of emergency Friday, including an executive order allowing county mayors to issue mask mandates through April 28.

Last week, the mayors of Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties ended their mask mandates, instead requesting people to continue wearing masks. The executive order had been in place since July 2020.

"Decisions made by individuals have an impact on others with whom they come in contact, so as the numbers escalated the face covering requirement proved necessary during the early stages of the pandemic," a press release announcing the decision said. "Continuing to wear a face covering voluntarily will help keep our schools and businesses open. Getting vaccinated is also instrumental into stopping the spread of COVID-19. We need to continue to work together, support and protect each other as we move forward."

As of Friday, only Sullivan County had renewed its mask mandate in Northeast Tennessee. Greene County's mask mandate was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. It's unclear if that mandate has been extended.

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