Cases rising as omicron enters U.S.

Published 5:30 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

Officials are continuing to heavily encourage vaccination and booster shots as local counties see large increases in their COVID-19 cases this week and more than a dozen U.S. states begin identifying cases of the new omicron variant of the virus.

Local counties in the Piedmont Health District are currently seeing an increase in coronavirus cases compared to last week, following statewide trends.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Lunenburg reported seven cases of the virus between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6.

Prince Edward County saw 21 new COVID-19 cases, and Buckingham County was up by 22 new cases. Cumberland saw 19 cases of the virus last week, and Charlotte was up by 29 cases.

The state is also seeing its numbers continue to rise. On Monday, Dec. 6, Virginia reported 1,676 new COVID-19 cases, up from 1,433 the previous Monday. The state’s seven-day moving average increased dramatically this week from 1,377 cases Nov. 29 to 2,264 cases Dec. 6.

The U.S. has regularly observed a period of increased coronavirus cases following major holidays, including Thanksgiving. The jump in cases seen locally can also be observed in local hospital data.

On Monday, Centra Health was reporting 46 total COVID-19 patients at Lynchburg General Hospital and Centra Southside Community Hospital in Farmville. Twelve of those patients were in the ICU, five of which were actively being vented. Of Centra’s 46 COVID patients, 10 were fully vaccinated and 36 were unvaccinated.

Longwood University was reporting five active cases of the virus in its campus community Sunday, Dec. 5. Hampden-Sydney College was reporting one active case and two individuals quarantining in its last dashboard update Dec. 1.

With numbers beginning to trend upward and a new variant now spreading in the U.S., health officials are continuing to push for immunization.

“Case counts are beginning to increase across the district as expected after the Thanksgiving holidays and the increase in indoor gatherings,” Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond said Monday. “With the variant omicron now having been identified in at least 17 states since the first U.S. case was detected on Dec. 1 and the highly transmissible delta variant still dominating current infections, we have to continue to take appropriate precautions.”

Almond emphasized that vaccines remain our most effective form of protection against COVID-19.

“Get vaccinated. Get your booster. Roll up a sleeve and help protect our community,” she said. “Vaccines lower the risk of severe disease. Widespread vaccination protects the most vulnerable within our community. And vaccination is one of the most profound ways of demonstrating gratitude for the tireless efforts of our healthcare workers.”

Vaccination rates in each county of the health district, as of Monday, were as follows:

Lunenburg: population fully vaccinated: 49.9%, population with booster shot: 10.4%

Prince Edward: population fully vaccinated: 42.8%, population with booster shot: 12.8%

Buckingham: population fully vaccinated: 50.2%, population with booster shot: 12.2%

Cumberland: population fully vaccinated: 46.4%, population with booster shot: 10.8%

Charlotte: population fully vaccinated: 49.4%, population with booster shot: 12.8%

All vaccination clinics below are open to the public. Walk-ins welcome. Vaccination is free, and no insurance is required. All vaccinations will be available whether residents need their initial series or booster shot.

Wednesday, Dec. 8 at Moton Museum in Farmville 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Vaccines provided by Charlotte Drug.

Monday, Dec. 13 at Blackstone Fire Department from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.  Register for appointment at vase.vdh.virginia.gov. Walk-ins welcomed.

Monday, Dec. 13 at Prince Edward County Schools Feedmore Market at Fireman’s Sports Arena. 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. Vaccines provided by Farmville Family Pharmacy.

Wednesday, Dec. 15 at Journey Community Center in Jetersville (Amelia) 2 – 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 15 at the Municipal Building in Drakes Branch (Charlotte) 2 – 5:30 p.m. Walk-ins only. Vaccines provided by Charlotte Drug.

Friday, Dec. 17 at Cardinal Homes in Wylliesburg (Charlotte) 12 – 3:30 p.m. Public event. Walk-ins only. Vaccines provided by Charlotte Drug.

Free PCR Testing: Monday, Dec. 20 at PEFYA 1 – 4 p.m.