COVID-19 cases spike in Prince Edward County and across region

FARMVILLE – Prince Edward County is seeing a COVID-19 spike right now. The same goes for most of the Piedmont Health District, where six of the seven counties, including Prince Edward, are rated as a high risk for COVID-19. 

“We have seen a definite uptick in COVID cases, both in Farmville and in the Centra system,” said Centra Southside Pulmonologist Dr. Sunil Rajan. “As a system, we have more than 80 COVID patients currently admitted.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created what’s known as “COVID-19 Community Levels” to judge which way an area is trending. These levels were created to help residents know how severely COVID-19 is affecting their community and what precautions should be followed to help protect themselves and others from the severe impacts of the virus. 

“When a community reaches a medium or high level, individuals are encouraged to consider extra layers of protection in public areas such as masking or avoiding non-essential activities,” said Abigail Clark. She works as COVID-19 operations manager with the Piedmont Health District. 

High risk of COVID-19 infection

As referenced above, most of the Piedmont Health District falls into the “high” community level, meaning there is an enhanced risk. With the low rating, Buckingham residents are still encouraged to still take precautions to avoid crossing into the medium or joining their neighboring counties in the high range.

Prince Edward County has seen 413 cases, with three deaths, in the last 13 weeks. That is the highest caseload in the seven-county district, which includes Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg and Nottoway counties as well. Out of that number, only Buckingham ranked low, when it came to a risk for COVID-19. Buckingham reported just 149 cases over the last 13 week period, with no deaths from the virus. Cumberland will soon join it in the low risk area, as soon as its latest numbers are confirmed. Cumberland County reported just 95 cases over the last 13 weeks, with zero deaths. 

Nottoway reported 351 cases during that period, with Charlotte following behind at 212. 

This was expected

According to Clark, this increase in case numbers was expected following the holidays as traveling increased and folks had close indoor gatherings with loved ones throughout the Commonwealth. 

Along with recent travels, according to Clark, another factor causing this increase in case numbers is the emerging Omicron variants and sub-lineages, BQ.1 and XBB. Those are more immune-evasive, meaning the body’s immune system may not register the virus. Even though new variants are present, folks still have many ways to keep themselves and others safe and to help the numbers go back down. During this time of rising cases, folks can frequently wash their hands, stay home when feeling sick and stay up to date on the vaccine and its boosters. 

“Vaccines continue to work to help prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death,” said Clark. “Anyone who is age 65 and older and/or immunocompromised should stay up to date with the booster, take appropriate precautions in public areas, and have a plan with their provider for obtaining treatment if they become infected with COVID-19.”

Dr. Rajan at Centra Southside echoed Clark’s caution. 

I would strongly encourage everyone to get their boosters as soon as possible “ Rajan said. 

More resources available

There are resources available to help residents navigate this COVID-19 spike. There are still federal programs in place to help provide families with free at-home testing kits for those experiencing symptoms or have been exposed who someone who tested positive for COVID-19. These can be ordered at covid.gov/test. 

For those who would like more information about vaccines or testing sites, folks can reach out to their local health department or visit vdh.virginia.gov/piedmont.

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