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Area virus trends still looking good

Several sources have reported encouraging numbers this week in reference to the state’s coronavirus cases as the commonwealth moves into Phase 3 of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plans, with local officials calling on residents to double down on their mitigation efforts to avoid losing progress in the fight against COVID-19.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported only 22 new coronavirus cases in the Piedmont Health District this past week.

The largest increase in the district occurred in Prince Edward County, which increased from 176 total positive cases as of Wednesday, June 24, to 187 cases Wednesday, July 1.

Nottoway County saw the second-largest increase from 106 to 111. In the last week, Buckingham jumped three new cases from 553 to 556. Amelia rose two cases from 42 to 44, and Lunenburg increased by one from 30 to 31.

Cumberland County had no new VDH-reported cases in the last week out of its 51 total. Charlotte County’s 31 total case count did not move either.

Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash confirmed Wednesday the area’s hopeful statistics, citing that in the past month the entire health district had only eight days with greater than 10 cases reported per 24 hours.

“For 22 days this past month, new cases were in the single digits daily for all seven counties combined,” he said.

Nash said it was clear the state’s mitigation measures are working, from social distancing and hand washing to wearing masks.

He added the district office is working on a few ongoing outbreaks at congregate living facilities, and that the few cases which are being diagnosed daily are mostly cases of community and/or familial spread.

He advised this continued downtrend should not mean letting one’s guard down in mitigation efforts, especially when other states in the country are reporting dramatic increases in spread.

“As we move into Phase 3, we need to be cautious and very conscientious about continuing to make masks and social distancing a routine part of our daily lives in Piedmont,” he stressed. “As we can see from the disturbing rapid increase in cases in other nearby states, this is not over.”

Nash warned the upcoming July 4 holiday could result in visitors to the state bringing the virus back into local communities.

“Also if we let our guard down now we could rapidly lose the valuable progress we have already made thus far, and all that sacrifice and hardship will have been for nothing,” he added. “We all must stay the course. Now is the time to double down on our commitment to our communities and to each other.

“As I’ve said before, this is not the time for complacency, or ignoring the guidelines or forgetting our masks. Our community’s health and economic health lies in our own hands. We can easily continue to succeed, or we can fail and lose what we have already achieved. We really are all in this together. Let’s succeed for all of us, together.”