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“Family spread” causing case numbers to rise in Prince Edward

As area coronavirus cases continue to slowly rise, health officials have said this week’s jump in COVID-19 positives for Prince Edward County can likely be attributed to familial contact links and community spread rather than outbreaks inside nursing homes or jails. 

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported coronavirus cases in the county have risen by 27 in just one week. Last Thursday, May 14, VDH listed Prince Edward as having experienced a total of 72 confirmed cases of the virus. One week later, Thursday, May 21, that number reached 99. 

Most of the week’s jump occurred within the last 24 hours. VDH reported Prince Edward had seen 86 positives as of Wednesday, May 20. The figure increased by 13 overnight. 

 Thursday afternoon Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash said the county’s current increase in cases did not seem to be linked to any long-term care facilities, such as Farmville Health and Rehabilitation Center. It was confirmed in April that the center had experienced several positive cases, including both residents and staff, and at least one death associated with the virus. 

“Most of the new Prince Edward cases appear to have family contact links at this point. But no institutional or facility related contacts,” Nash said Thursday. “Investigations are currently ongoing.”

VDH-reported cases broken down by zip code show that all areas of Prince Edward have experienced an increase in cases since last week. 

Pamplin increased from nine cases Saturday, May 16, to 11 as of Thursday.

Farmville increased 10 cases over the week, from 68 cases Saturday to 78 cases Thursday.

Burkeville rose by one case, going from six reported cases Saturday to seven Thursday. 

Prospect and Rice both had “suppressed” case numbers on May 16, meaning the counties had between one and four confirmed positive coronavirus cases and the specific number was not listed in order to protect patient privacy. On Thursday, Prospect had made a large jump to 14 cases listed by the VDH. Rice had risen to 5.

Community and family spread of the virus has been an ongoing concern in Buckingham County, where two prisons are experiencing large outbreaks of COVID-19. On Thursday, VDH listed 438 virus cases in Buckingham, up 19 from the previous day’s report of 419. 

At least 393 of those cases have stemmed from the county’s prisons. The Virginia Department of Corrections listed Dillwyn Correctional Center (DCC) as having experienced 282 positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, with 11 positive staff. Four DCC inmates were in hospitals battling the virus Thursday. One offender at DCC has died as a result of the virus. 

Buckingham Correctional Center (BCC) was listed Thursday as having 111 total positive cases with 6 positive staff.  Five BCC offenders were being hospitalized Thursday due to coronavirus complications. One BCC inmate has died from COVID-19. 

The correctional center outbreaks and the slowly rising number of prison staff that have tested positive sparked concern this month that the virus may be “seeping” out of the prisons and into the community. The prisons in Buckingham together employ 729 people from various counties.

Cumberland County was listed May 21 as having experienced 25 cases of the virus. Lunenburg had seven cases. Charlotte County’s coronavirus case count had risen to 16.