RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — More COVID-19 deaths have been reported the past week in Southwest Virginia than at any time since October, when deaths from the Delta variant spike were being tallied. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported eight COVID deaths in the rural region Wednesday, including five in Tazewell County.

The steep increase started slightly later than a similar one statewide and comes a couple weeks after the Omicron variant new case rate peaked in the region. That rate has fallen much more slowly in Southwest Virginia than it did statewide and barely dropped Wednesday after 678 new cases were reported regionally.

The seven-day COVID-19 death rate has more than doubled in Southwest Virginia over the past two weeks and is the highest it’s been since mid-October.

The seven-day case rate is now 1,241 per 100,000 population regionally, which is more than triple the current state rate of 409. Two weeks past its peak of 1,698 the rate has dropped just 27%. Virginia’s statewide peak was lower at 1,543, and two weeks after that Jan. 13 peak it had dropped 39%.

Mount Rogers Health District Population Health Manager Breanne Forbes Hubbard told News Channel 11 an extended period of high death counts is likely as deaths continue to be reported from the Omicron surge. Those reports can be delayed for several weeks following a death.

In addition to the five reported deaths in Tazewell County, one each was reported in Buchanan, Russell and Washington counties.

Three new COVID hospitalizations were reported including one each in Russell, Tazewell and Washington counties.

Forbes Hubbard said area modeling projects a continued slow decline in cases compared to the state as a whole.

“I think that is in part due to the low vaccination coverage,” she said. “I don’t know that we’re going to have that steep decline that we were all hoping for.”

Statewide, VDH reported 1,136,389 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth on Feb. 9.

According to VDH, the total number of confirmed and probable cases is 1,593,694.

VDH reports there have been 14,348 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 Feb. 9.

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. – 4,115 cases / 209 hospitalizations / 64 deaths (29 new cases)
Buchanan County – 
4,344 cases / 186 hospitalizations / 92 deaths (43 new cases, 1 new death)
Dickenson County – 
3,051 cases / 70 hospitalizations / 40 deaths (19 new cases)
Lee County – 
5,722 cases / 154 hospitalizations / 76 deaths (34 new cases)
Norton – 
1,188 cases / 37 hospitalizations / 21 deaths (15 new cases)
Russell County – 
6,299 cases / 184 hospitalizations / 92 deaths (45 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Scott County – 
5,282 cases / 197 hospitalizations / 95 deaths (60 new cases)
Smyth County – 
7,922 cases / 371 hospitalizations / 145 deaths (78 new cases)
Tazewell County – 
9,216 cases / 252 hospitalizations / 141 deaths (142 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 5 new deaths)
Washington County, Va. – 
12,869 cases / 727 hospitalizations / 196 deaths (91 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Wise County – 
9,314 cases / 283 hospitalizations / 163 deaths (122 new cases)

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