As COVID-19 cases at two universities in the New River Valley surged, federal experts came to the region to assist.
A federal COVID-19 Response Assistance Team was in the New River Valley on September 8th, according to a spokesperson from the Virginia Department of Health.
The teams are sent to areas with emerging increases in COVID-19 cases or recent outbreaks. Their goal is to help local and state health officials identify the root cause, share best practices and build broader efforts to stop the spread. Health officials in the New River Valley say they expect to get a summary from the team.
This is the first time a federal assistance team has been in the western part of the state. A similar team was in eastern Virginia in July, according to a health department spokesperson Robert Parker.
Data released by Virginia Tech Monday, shows the 7-day average of new cases at the school has been declining since early September. Radford University’s COVID-19 dashboard has not been updated since September 7th, though health department officials say new cases there have been declining after a spike at the end of August. Health officials have also said university-related cases don't appear to be spilling over into the broader community.
Statement from U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services:
“Throughout the pandemic, interagency efforts have been deployed to support state and local governments’ COVID-19 response. CRAFT teams consist of top public health experts who visit emerging hotspots to support local and state efforts to identify the root cause of infection spread at the community level, identify best practices and put forth broader efforts to stop the spread. Some of things the teams are looking at include: helping states and localities to address the need for adequate data, assess testing capabilities and plans, and protect the most vulnerable populations, particularly seniors. CRAFT teams use data driven strategies to determine locations of deployment and in total the teams have been deployed to over 67 jurisdictions across the U.S. The CRAFT teams are a direct result of President Trump’s leadership in combatting COVID-19 and these teams will continue to advance the goal of protecting the American people throughout this pandemic.”