RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Another five COVID-19 deaths were reported Thursday in Southwest Virginia by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) along with 887 new cases.

The rural nine-county region remains near its record seven-day case rate, though it dropped slightly from Wednesday. The seven-day rolling average of new cases per 100,000 “community spread rate” is 1,636, down from Wednesday’s record of 1,698.

The region’s rate has been higher than Virginia’s for a week now as the Omicron variant spread into Virginia’s urban areas sooner than its rural ones. Southwest Virginia’s rate has been above 1,500 six of the past seven days.

The statewide rate stayed above 1,500 for only three days and has been declining from its peak of 1,543 set two weeks ago. It was at 939 Thursday, its lowest rate since Jan. 1 though still significantly higher than the previous record reached in late summer 2021.

Southwest Virginia’s community spread rate was around 350 when it began to climb rapidly at the very end of December, while Virginia’s was about 212 prior to beginning its climb about 10 days earlier.

Washington and Smyth counties’ rates are the highest in the region, both above 1,800.

The five new deaths reported Thursday included three in Wise County and two in Russell County. The region continues to have a much higher per-capita COVID death rate than the state, but Virginia’s seven-day death rate is the highest its been in several months at 2.8 per 100,000 population. The region’s seven-day rate is 4.5.

The region’s COVID hospitalization rate remained steady at 7.9 per 100,000 as four new hospitalizations were reported — three in Wise County and one in Washington County. The statewide rate continued declining and is now also at 7.9, just a third of the peak it reached Jan. 7.

Southwest Virginia’s COVID death and hospitalization rates since Sept. 1 remain far above the state and national averages while the region’s vaccination rate is more than 20% lower than the state’s.

Over the past nearly five months, Southwest Virginians have been hospitalized for COVID at a rate of 283 per 100,000 compared to 162 statewide. The gap in COVID deaths per 100,000 is even wider at 145 regionally to 49 statewide.

Statewide, VDH reported 1,081,269 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth on Jan. 27.

According to VDH, the total number of confirmed and probable cases is 1,514,862.

VDH reports there have been 13,432 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths across the state.

Below is a complete breakdown of local COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Southwest Virginia, with new case numbers on Jan. 27:

Note: VDH does not report whether cases are active or recovered. County and community case totals can include active, recovered, confirmed and probable cases.

Bristol, Va. – 3,713 cases / 208 hospitalizations / 62 deaths (71 new cases)
Buchanan County – 4,008 cases / 183 hospitalizations / 91 deaths (37 new cases)
Dickenson County – 2,796 cases / 68 hospitalizations / 40 deaths (38 new cases)
Lee County – 5,088 cases / 150 hospitalizations / 72 deaths (92 new cases)
Norton – 1,038 cases / 37 hospitalizations / 20 deaths (12 new cases)
Russell County – 5,745 cases / 181 hospitalizations / 83 deaths (93 new cases, 2 new deaths)
Scott County – 4,799 cases / 194 hospitalizations / 93 deaths (72 new cases)
Smyth County – 7,054 cases / 369 hospitalizations / 143 deaths (81 new cases)
Tazewell County – 8,413 cases / 246 hospitalizations / 127 deaths (160 new cases)
Washington County, Va. – 11,710 cases / 721 hospitalizations / 191 deaths (114 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)
Wise County – 8,216 cases / 281 hospitalizations / 159 deaths (117 new cases, 3 new hospitalizations, 3 new deaths)

For full coverage of the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, click HERE.