High Rates of COVID-19 Cases, Outbreaks and Hospitalizations Continue in Roanoke Region

Oct 20, 2020

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have remained high in the Roanoke region.  New River Valley cases have largely remained lower, though Radford has seen a bump.

As of Tuesday morning, the health district that covers the Roanoke Valley and parts of the Alleghany Highlands reported 115 active cases, up from 76 last Tuesday.  Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District, also reported 51 people hospitalized for COVID-19 related complications.  That’s one more than last week.

Credit CDC

"One thing that we are concerned about is that these trends are being seen across the country," Morrow told reporters on a weekly conference call.  "And as the weather continues to get colder, people tend to be inside more and we expect rates to continue to increase."

Morrow also reported 28 active outbreaks, including nine at long term care facilities and eight at businesses.  There is only one school-related outbreak, which is a good sign according to Dr. Molly O'Dell. “It’s because of adherence to social distancing, hand hygiene and mask wearing.”  O'Dell said the complication for returning more students to in-person learning is the lack of space to ensure social distancing in classrooms.

Majority of NRV Cases Still Related to College Students

The majority of new COVID-19 cases in the New River Health District are still connected to that region’s college students.

In a call with reporters Tuesday, Dr. Noelle Bissell, director of the New River Health District, noted a bump in cases in the city of Radford over the past week.  That’s where Radford University is located. "This is related to close social contact and in this case both students and community members," she said.

Cases in Montgomery County, where Virginia Tech is located, have stayed on a downward trend.

Bissell said most of the spread in the community has been through small social gatherings of families and close friends.  She also stressed the importance of following health guidelines not only in the workplace, but also while carpooling and on breaks. There are nine active outbreaks in the district, including two at long term care facilities.

Carilion Clinic Also Experiencing Uptick in Cases

Carilion Clinic – which operates a number of hospital facilities in southwest Virginia – has also been seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. 

In a press briefing Tuesday, Patrice Weiss, Carilion’s chief medical officer, said now is not the time for alarm, but people can’t let their guard down:

“I want to reassure folks that Carilion has the bandwidth and capacity for a surge. But one preventable case, one preventable death – that’s too many.”

Carilion will continue to relay case numbers within its system to the Virginia Department of Health for reporting to avoid confusion.

Officials there also reiterated the importance of wearing masks and maintaining six feet of distance between others while in public. They also urged Virginians to get a flu shot.

**Editor's Note: Carilion Clinic is a financial supporter of RADIO IQ.