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COVID Hospitalizations Fall in Western Virginia, Charlottesville Vaccination Site Moving

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CDC
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The number of people hospitalized in western Virginia for complications related to COVID-19 continues to drop.

The hospitals that serve the New River and Roanoke Valleys as well as the Lynchburg, Danville, and Martinsville areas reported 137 hospitalized COVID patients Wednesday.  That’s down from 162 last week and nearly 250 a month ago.

The number of COVID patients in Intensive Care Units also dropped.

As Cases and Hospitalizations Fall, Hospitals Reopen Visitation

At Lynchburg General Hospital, the drop in community cases and hospitalizations means fewer resources and space are needed for COVID-related care.  The hospital’s vice president of medical affairs said Wednesday morning just 18 beds are currently set aside for COVID-related patients. 

Dr. Chris Lewis also said the hospital will increase the number of visitors allowed to be with patients.  Patients in non-COVID units will be allowed up to two visitors.  Patients in the Emergency Department and procedural areas will be allowed one visitor.  "We still will be masking and expecting visitors to mask," Lewis told reporters.  "We’ll have certain safety precautions in place in terms of the number of people that can be in waiting rooms together and that sort of thing."

The new visitation rules will start Friday.

Blue Ridge Health District Moving Vaccination Site

The health district that serves the Charlottesville area will close a temporary, outdoor vaccination site and set up a bigger, indoor location.

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Credit Blue Ridge Health District
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The Blue Ridge Health District has been conducting vaccinations inside a tent in the parking lot of a shuttered KMart.

The Blue Ridge Health District has been holding clinics in a tent in the parking lot of a former Kmart store. 

Beginning Monday, that operation will move inside the old JC Penney store at Fashion Square Mall.  "It provides us with about 100,000 square feet to space out, to operate, to bring people inside from the elements if they are occurring," COVID-19 incident commander Ryan McKay told reporters.   "And gives us much more room in terms of distancing, providing ample space for the vaccinators, and then increasing our ability to run larger numbers of individuals on any given day."

The new location will operate up to 6 days a week as vaccine supply increases.  Smaller clinics in surrounding counties and a UVA-operated clinic at Seminole Square will continue.

Dr. Denise Bonds, the district's health director, said teams are still working to vaccinate people eligible in the Phase 1A and 1B groups.  Bonds told reporters that the district may not be able to move into the 1C group of eligible workers as quickly as other districts due to larger numbers of medical workers and people over the age of 65.  Bonds said the goal is still to make vaccinations available to everyone by mid-April.