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Roanoke region records its 1,000th COVID-19 death

One thousand residents of the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District have now died from complications related to COVID-19.

"I worry that we’ve become numb to the toll COVID continues to take on our community," Dr. Cynthia Morrow told reporters Wednesday. Morrow is the director of the health district that covers the Roanoke Valley and parts of the Alleghany Highlands.

While she expressed sadness for the lives lost over the past two years, she also issued a warning about the next few weeks. "We are in an upward trajectory. And so we should expect to see more hospitalizations and more deaths related to COVID-19."

While case and hospitalization numbers are still well below last winter’s surge, Morrow said it’s likely some jurisdictions in the area will move into the Centers for Disease Control’s high-risk transmission level in the next week or two. The CDC recommends people in those communities wear a mask in indoor, public spaces. The Staunton area moved into the high level late last week and the hospital system there began increasing visitation restrictions.

The Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District added 666 new cases over the past week, up from 582 the previous week. 27 district residents were hospitalized as of Monday, up from 13 the Monday before.

Morrow noted that while case numbers are moving higher again, hospitalizations seem to be increasing at a slower rate. She said that may be because of the current omicron strains and the illnesses they produce. "They do seem to be more mild. And I think that that’s great news, but for people who are immune compromised or people who are older, even a less virulent strain can be devastating."

A graph of daily new COVID-19 cases in Virginia over the past 90 days.
Virginia Dept. of Health
A graph of daily new COVID-19 cases in Virginia over the past 90 days.

At a statewide level, the average number of daily new cases has been above 3,000 for nearly a week. The testing positivity rate is 17 17%, the highest it’s been since February 7th. And more than 500 Virginia residents were hospitalized as of Wednesday.

Updated: May 27, 2022 at 4:23 PM EDT
Localities in the Richmond, Charlottesville and Richmond areas moved into the CDC's high level on May 26th. The Staunton area dropped to the medium level.
David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.