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Omicron surge is receding "quite quickly" in Roanoke area

A combination of indicators show that the surge of COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant is "well past" in the Roanoke area.

In a briefing with reporters Tuesday morning, the director of the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District said falling case numbers and hospitalizations, as well as a rapid decline in demand for testing, show that “the surge that we saw with omicron is really receding quite quickly.”

RCAHD 2.15
Virginia Dept. of Health
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A graph of new COVID-19 infections in the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District over the past 90 days.

Data released by Dr. Cynthia Morrow showed a total of 596 new cases in the district over the past week, down from 1,567 the week before. For the first time in many weeks, the average number of daily new cases has fallen below 100. As of Monday morning, 71 district residents were hospitalized for complications related to COVID-19, down from 93 the Monday before.

“For the first time in a long time I feel like we’re in a pretty good place right now," Morrow said. "And that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. Don’t get me wrong. We’re still in high transmission in every jurisdiction. But I am really optimistic." According to data from the Virginia Department of Health all by two of the state's localities are in high transmission, meaning that average number of daily new cases is over 100 for the past seven days and a testing positivity rate above 10%. Morrow said she hopes some localities in the Roanoke area may drop into the substantial transmission category in the next week or two.

The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 continues to increase, though. The district recorded 32 deaths over the past week, bringing the total to 872. Deaths usually lag behind increases in cases and hospitalizations partly due to reporting delays.

Nevertheless, Morrow said the situation is much better than it was just a few weeks ago. “At this point with the amount of immunity we have, with our vaccine immunity, with our natural immunity, I’m really hopeful that we’re looking to a healthy spring,” she said.

David Seidel is proud to lead the journalists at Radio IQ and WVTF as news director. David joined the newsroom in May 2017 and brings more than 20 years of experience in broadcast journalism in Virginia. Prior to joining Radio IQ David was an assistant news director, assignment manager and producer at WDBJ Television in Roanoke. He also worked as a reporter for WHSV Television in Harrisonburg. David graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington with degrees in journalism and history.