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No Sign of New Surge in New River Valley But Fredericksburg-area Cases Going Up

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AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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The director of the Centers for Disease Control said Monday she’s worried about another COVID-19 surge.

But health officials in the New River Valley say they aren’t seeing any signs there.

Cases in the community have remained fairly low, according to Doctor Noelle Bissell.  And university-related cases have been gradually coming down as well.  "We do know that the virus is still out there. So we do have to continue to practice those precautions as we are in a race to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can," Bissell said during a weekly call with reporters.   She is the director of the New River Health District.

Bissell noted that improving spring weather means gatherings and activities can be moved outdoors where the risk of transmission is substantially lower.

Demand for vaccine in the New River Valley has remained high, Bissell said, even as the district starts to move toward the next phase of eligibility.  The health department will begin vaccinating some higher ed faculty and staff this week.

The New River Health District will not receive any allotment of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine this week.  Bissell said the state's 48,000 doses were allocated to other districts.  “The state is trying to allocate based on how many people are still in the 1B group to get vaccinated, with the hopes that we can get through our 1C and then move to our general population.”  Bissell said vaccine supply is still expected to increase substantially in the coming weeks.

Starting Monday, the district began using a new electronic system to schedule appointments.  The Everbridge system will auto generate calls, texts and emails to registered individuals.  The district had been using volunteer phone banks to set many appointments. Bissell said that has put a lot of strain on volunteers and staff.

Health Department Warns of Increasing Cases in Fredericksburg Area

The health district that covers the Fredericksburg area is seeing a concerning uptick in cases.

The director of the Rappahannock Area Health District said case numbers have been increasing for the last ten days and the current trajectory is higher than last summer’s peaks.  The number of hospitalized COVID patients has nearly doubled over the past week and the testing positivity rate has also gone up.

Read the complete announcement here