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Uptick in district cases persisting

The Piedmont Health District is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases.

H. Robert Nash

Meanwhile, health officials are advising that the large Immigration Centers of America (ICA) Farmville COVID-19 outbreak is not overwhelming area hospitals.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) webpage listed Prince Edward County on Wednesday morning, Aug. 12, as having 423 total cases of the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, up from 386 the week prior. The number has been steadily increasing since ICA Farmville began reporting its outbreak.

Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash said Wednesday afternoon the number is actually considerably higher and that there have been 509 total cases in Prince Edward, a figure which includes open cases still under investigation.

Nash said the district is currently capturing an average of 6.5 new cases per day, up from an average of 5.5 cases a day in the last two weeks.

“So in the district we are seeing a small uptick, which is persisting,” he said.

Nash advised that Prince Edward as of Wednesday had 14 active cases over the previous 14 days, four of which were associated with a correctional facility outbreak. He added the recent increase in numbers is in some ways an example of online VDH figures “catching up” on closed cases.

He added the seven-day rolling average for coronavirus cases in the region is back down to numbers seen in late May before the spike in cases that occurred in June and July.

“But we are not back down to our lowest average case volume per day like we saw back in the middle of June before going into Phase 3,” he advised.

Nash said Wednesday all in all the Piedmont Health District is doing pretty well in the battle against the coronavirus, though he stressed social responsibility will be what makes a large difference in our communities.

“Wear your masks, wash your hands and maintain social distancing. Until we have a safe vaccine, this is all we’ve got to keep everyone as safe as possible. We are going to get through this. We have to look out for each other to keep our damages to a minimum.”

In a Wednesday morning Centra Health press conference, Centra Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Christopher Lewis addressed public concern regarding COVID-positive detainees from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ICA Farmville detention center and the effect such a large outbreak may have on Southside Centra Community Hospital and Lynchburg General Hospital, which often treats critical patients transferred from Southside.

Lewis said while the hospitals in Lynchburg and Farmville have seen patients from detention centers and other congregate facilities such as nursing homes, the numbers have not been tremendous or overwhelming.

“We have seen a few from the ICE facility and other (facilities), but in terms of capacity to manage them and take care of them all appropriately, we have been able to do that to date.”

Monday, Aug. 10, ICE Public Affairs Specialist Kate Pote said no ICA Farmville detainees were currently being hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19.

Lewis added a total of three coronavirus patients from the area were being treated in Southside’s COVID unit on Wednesday. To date, five coronavirus patients have died at Southside. Prince Edward’s death toll for COVID-19 is listed by VDH as totaling 11.

All counties in the Piedmont Health District experienced jumps in their coronavirus cases this week.

On Wednesday, VDH listed Buckingham County as having 611 total coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, up from 597 the week prior.

Cumberland County increased six cases in the last week, going from 71 to 77.

Lunenburg County jumped seven cases in the last week, from 59 to 66.

Charlotte rose from 50 to 55.

Nottoway saw four new cases this week, going from 178 to 182. Amelia County rose eight cases, from 74 to 82.