JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) – Health officials in northeastern Tennessee say they do not have enough nurses to combat COVID-19 inside its hospital system.

“There are no longer enough nurses to fill the need that we have,” Ballad Health Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Smithgall told WJHL-TV.

According to Ballad Health, the hospital system is looking to hire 350 registered nurses to fill its nurse shortage.

“In the last eight weeks, we’ve had more than 900 patients admitted to COVID-19,” said Ballad Health Chief Administrative Officer Eric Deaton.

After hitting 200 inpatients this week, the health care system has adjusted its COVID-19 surge plan to receive 300 inpatients.

Deaton said: “These numbers represent lives, they’re non-encouraging. In fact, it’s really becoming a tragedy in the increased rates that we’re seeing.”

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