Cases decline overall, rise locally

Published 8:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

While COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the wake of the omicron surge, health officials are noting it may take longer for cases to slow down in the Piedmont Health District which sports vastly smaller vaccination rates compared to the rest of the state.

While cases are overall on the downtrend in Piedmont and across the state, all nearby counties saw a rise in COVID-19 cases this week.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Prince Edward saw 173 new COVID-19 cases from the period of Monday, Feb. 7, to

Monday, Feb. 14.

Buckingham County rose by 119 cases this week, and Cumberland County saw 33 new cases. Charlotte County reported 65 new virus cases this week, and Lunenburg was up by 87 new cases.

The counties of Prince Edward, Cumberland and Charlotte each reported one new COVID-related death this week as death certificates tied to last month’s omicron surge continue to roll in. Buckingham and Lunenburg counties both saw three new COVID-related deaths reported over the last seven days.

Though Piedmont saw an increase in cases this week, the state remains on the downtrend. According to VDH, Virginia reported a total of 1,761 new virus cases on Feb. 14, down significantly from the 2,839 cases reported one week prior. Virginia hasn’t seen a daily number this low since Dec. 6, 2021, when the commonwealth reported 1,676 COVID-19 cases.

The state’s seven-day moving average was also down this week from 5,514 Feb. 7 to 3,783 Feb. 14.

COVID-related deaths in Virginia also dropped this week from 134 cases Feb. 7 to 41 cases reported on Feb. 14. The state’s seven-day moving average for COVID deaths dropped from 127.1 last Monday to 84.3 this Monday.

The health district’s coronavirus data may have come as a surprise to some this week, but Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond advised Monday that case numbers remain challenging to precisely follow due to increasing home tests and a decrease in persons testing generally.

“But the overall trend is a slow decline,” Almond noted.

Almond highlighted on Monday that it is expected the region will have a slower, longer decline towards lower COVID-19 case numbers due to the low vaccination rates in the area.

According to VDH, 80.8% of adults in the commonwealth are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but that figure drops significantly in areas like Piedmont where the fully vaccinated adult population hovers around 64%. Prince Edward County continues to sport one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state and an adult fully vaccinated population of just 50.2%.

On Monday, Almond stated hospitalization numbers of those who tested positive for COVID-19 continue to decline regionally.

“This remains the most important data point in understanding the health of our community,” Almond said, “And right now we have reason to be optimistic.”

Centra Health continues to report encouraging numbers out of its COVID-19 patient census.

On Friday, Feb. 11, Centra reported 97 virus patients across its Lynchburg, Bedford and Southside Hospitals. Of those 97 patients, 10 were being treated in the ICU, four of which were actively being vented as of Friday.

In other COVID-related news, a bipartisan majority in the State Senate voted last week to advance legislation on in-person learning. The bill, SB739, would effectively restrict public school systems from placing mask requirements on students.

To track the bill, go to https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?221+sum+SB739.

On Monday, Almond emphasized that while universal contract tracing by public health workers has ended, citizens can still play a vital role in preventing infection by staying home when sick and getting vaccinated.

“Our vaccination campaign continues across the district,” Almond said. “Vaccination continues to protect, taking the deadly teeth out of this virus. Get your vaccine shot.”

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

Prince Edward: population fully vaccinated: 47.5%, population with booster shot: 23%

Buckingham: population fully vaccinated: 54.3%, population with booster shot: 25.7%

Cumberland: population fully vaccinated: 49.8%, population with booster shot: 21.8%

Charlotte: population fully vaccinated: 53.9%, population with booster shot: 24.5%

Lunenburg: population fully vaccinated: 55%, population with booster shot: 25.6%

FREE PCR TESTING: (results require 2-3 days to return) will be available at:

Buckingham Community Center in Dillwyn on Monday, Feb. 22, noon – 3 p.m.

Blackstone Courier-Record (111 Maple) on Wednesday, Feb. 16 and Feb. 23, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Farmville Testing Center — M-F 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Curative at Longwood Midtown which is located at 121 Midtown Ave. Walk-ins welcome.