Cases rise across district

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 22, 2022

COVID-19 cases jumped this week across the Piedmont Health District after a quiet month filled with low numbers of reported virus cases.

Most counties in the health district more than quintupled their number of reported coronavirus cases in the last seven days.

According to the latest data obtained from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Lunenburg saw 37 new cases in the seven-day period of Monday, April 11, to Monday, April 18.

Prince Edward County reported 121 new COVID-19 cases. Buckingham County reported 57 new cases of the virus this week, while Cumberland saw 29 new cases. Charlotte County also observed 29 new virus cases over the last seven days.

While COVID-related deaths remained relatively low in the area this week, hospitalizations also appeared to rise. Both Lunenburg and Prince Edward counties experienced one new death related to the virus this week, while Buckingham, Cumberland and Charlotte saw no new reported deaths.

Prince Edward observed 18 coronavirus hospitalizations in the last seven days. Buckingham saw 10 hospitalizations for the virus, Cumberland saw eight, Charlotte saw 10, and Lunenburg saw four.

This week’s rise in cases coincided with a rise in local counties’ rankings on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Levels scale which helps officials determine which counties are safe to go mask-free.

Last week, the counties of Lunenburg, Prince Edward, Buckingham, Cumberland, and Charlotte all ranked as “low” risk on the community level scale. As of Monday, April 18, Charlotte was the only county to remain in the “low” level rank, while Lunenburg, Prince Edward, Buckingham, and Cumberland all rose to the “medium” level.

At the “medium” level on the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels tool, residents are advised to speak with their health care provider about masking up or taking other precautions if at risk for severe illness, Residents are also advised to stay up to date with vaccinations and get tested if presenting symptoms of the virus.

On Monday, Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond said the recent rise in cases appears to be due to late data on past positive cases still arriving from healthcare systems and laboratories. These late cases, Almond noted, are recorded by the date when they are received, not the date when testing was completed.

Almond also said as more data clean-up and quality assurance work is done on this data, there may be small variations seen on dashboards.

“What remains important is looking at overall trends and trying to take into account the entire state of the community and functioning of our healthcare systems,” she said.

“While COVID-19 cases are beginning to show a slight increase within the district, hospitalizations amongst those who are positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 remain low,” she emphasized. “Our CDC community levels, which continue to take into account both the amount of viral spread in a community and the effect on the medical system, remain in the low to medium range across the district.”

Almond said it remains important to recognize that vaccination remains the safest option for preventing severe illness.

“The health department continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations in addition to all routine immunizations. Please ensure that you and your children are up-to-date across the board. We are a healthier community because of these life-saving vaccinations.”

In other coronavirus news, the CDC extended this week its ELC Reopening Schools Grant for an additional year. The grant, used to provide public and private schools with COVID-19 testing options, will now end in July of 2023, with VDH and the Virginia Department of Education currently developing plans to help support schools for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.

The CDC and VDH will support testing options for K-12 school-affiliated summer programs as well as summer camps that offer K-12 youth education/recreational activities but are not affiliated with schools. As resources allow, VDH/CDC will also work with child care programs or preschools operating summer programs but not serving K-12 aged youth.

If you’re looking to book a trip this spring, don’t leave your mask at home just yet. Late last week, the CDC announced its travel masking order will remain in effect while officials assess the potential impact of the rise in cases on severe disease, including deaths, hospitalizations and hospital capacity.

During this time, the TSA will extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022.

For more information on traveling and COVID-19, go to https://www. cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/s0413- mask-order.html.

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

Lunenburg: population fully vaccinated: 57.5%, population with booster shot: 29.2%

Charlotte: population fully vaccinated: 54.9%, population with booster shot: 26%

Prince Edward: population fully vaccinated: 45.4%, population with booster shot: 23.6%

Buckingham: population fully vaccinated: 56%, population with booster shot: 29.3%

Cumberland: population fully vaccinated: 52.1%, population with booster shot: 24.9%

VDH MOBILE VACCINATION EVENTS

Free and open to the public. Walk-ins welcome.

May pre-register at vase.vdh.virginia.gov

Or call your local health department to set-up an appointment.

Crossroads Town House

Wednesday, April 20 – 9 – 11 a.m.

714 East Second St., Farmville

Crossroads Charlotte County

Wednesday, April 20 – 3 – 6:30 p.m.

410 Thomas Jefferson Highway,

Charlotte CH

Peoples Community Center –

Food Distribution

Thursday, April 21 – 9 – 11 a.m.

1021 Tidewater Ave., Victoria

Crystal Cathedral –

Food Distribution

Friday, April 22 – 10 – 11:30 a.m.

16764 Oak St., Dillwyn, VA

Cumberland Patriot Day Festival

Saturday, April 23 – noon – 4 p.m.

Cumberland Courthouse

Piedmont Senior Resources

Friday, April 29 – 2 – 6:30 p.m.

1413 S Main St., Farmville

Hanes Chapel United

Methodist Church

Saturday, April 30 – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

1171 Copper Mine Road, Dillwyn

Amelia Day Festival

Saturday, May 7 – 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Amelia Courthouse