Two years since area’s first COVID case

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Two years ago, the Piedmont Health District experienced its very first confirmed case of COVID-19. This week, local health officials reflected on the virus’ impact in the community while noting COVID-19 seems to be here to stay.

The week of Sunday, March 6, to Saturday, March 12, marked another period of reduced cases for the majority of local counties, with only Prince Edward and Lunenburg counties seeing their numbers slightly rise.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), over the last week, Prince Edward County experienced 17 new cases of the virus. Buckingham saw seven new COVID-19 cases, and Cumberland reported nine new cases. Charlotte County saw six new COVID-19 cases this week, and Lunenburg reported five new cases.

VDH data shows one new COVID-related death reported out of Prince Edward from the period of Friday, March 4, to the following Friday, March 11. Buckingham saw three new deaths in this time, Cumberland reported one new death, Charlotte reported two deaths and Lunenburg reported one death.

The state followed a similar pattern this week. Virginia reported 350 new COVID cases March 14, down significantly from the 520 cases reported one week prior. The state’s seven day moving average in cases also dropped from 1,177 March 7 to 959 cases as of March 14.

Monday, March 14, Virginia saw 22 new COVID-related deaths compared to the 17 reported the previous Monday. The state’s seven-day moving average in deaths did drop this week from 41.3 to 36.4.

Centra Health was reporting 36 COVID-19 patients at its Lynchburg, Bedford and Southside Hospitals as of Monday, with three of those patients located in the ICU, two of which were actively being vented.

Good news came Monday, March 14, when the entirety of the Piedmont Health District was ranked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having either a medium or low COVID-19 Community Level. A county’s ranking on the community level scale tells officials if it is likely safe for residents to go mask-free in those areas, with masking specifically recommended at a high community level.

On Monday, all local counties were in the mask-optional zone, with Prince Edward’s community level listed as low and Buckingham, Cumberland, Charlotte and Lunenburg counties listed as medium.

On Monday morning, Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond reflected on the events which unfolded in the district two years ago and the global health crisis which followed.

“Two years ago on March 11, the Piedmont Health District recorded its first positive case of COVID-19,” Almond stated. “We have since experienced the deaths of 364 individuals across our seven-county area with 84 deaths occurring over the last three months. This means that nearly 23% of the deaths we have had in our community during the pandemic have come during a time when we were transitioning from the very dangerous delta variant to omicron which tends to have milder symptoms. It is a sobering reminder that COVID, which is here to stay, remains a deadly virus for some.”

Almond emphasized we now have a vaccine that changes this risk equation dramatically, reducing the chance of both hospitalization and death.

“Thankfully, we have a community that continues to reach out to neighbors to find those who are unvaccinated simply because of lack of opportunity to receive a vaccine shot,” Almond said. “Thankfully, we have health providers that can now effectively treat COVID-19 when diagnosed early by testing; we have ongoing vaccination opportunities through mobile clinics, pharmacies, doctors’ offices. Thankfully, we have a community that respects and cares for others.”

Almond noted data shows that between the period of Jan. 17, 2021, and March 5, 2022, unvaccinated people died of COVID-19 at a rate of 3.3 times that of fully vaccinated individuals and 1.7 times that of partially vaccinated individuals.

“Not all of us need to mask in public spaces right now,” Almond acknowledged. “But we all need to continue to do our part in being citizens that contribute to the well-being of others.”

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

Prince Edward: population fully vaccinated: 45.6%, population with booster shot: 23.8%

Buckingham: population fully vaccinated: 54.8%, population with booster shot: 26.9%

Cumberland: population fully vaccinated: 50.3%, population with booster shot: 22.5%

Charlotte: population fully vaccinated: 54.5%, population with booster shot: 25.7%

Lunenburg: population fully vaccinated: 55.8%, population with booster shot: 26.9%

VACCINATION EVENTS

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

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

Farmville Baptist Church

Saturday, March 19 9 – 11 a.m.

132 N Main St., Farmville, VA 23901

Crenshaw United Methodist Church

Wednesday, March 23 3 – 6:30 p.m.

200 Church St., Blackstone, VA 23824

Cumberland CARES Food Distribution Center

Friday, March 25 8 – 11 a.m.

1550 Anderson Hwy, Cumberland, VA 23040

Journey Community Center

Friday, March 25 3 – 6:30 p.m.

19210 Patrick Henry Hwy.,

Amelia Court House, VA 23002