RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Southwest Virginia’s new COVID-19 case rate declined significantly over the holiday weekend, but a public health official noted that rising test positivity rates signal it’s too early to say whether the decline will continue.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 229 new cases from Saturday through Monday in the nine-county region.
Over the past five days, a total of 15 new hospitalizations were reported in the region, as well as nine new deaths.
New COVID case, death and hospitalization rates all have been more than double the rates in Virginia overall since the beginning of September on a population-adjusted basis. Southwest Virginia has a much lower COVID vaccination rate than the state as a whole and that gap has increased since the delta variant surge arrived.
Barely over half of Southwest Virginians have received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to nearly three quarters of people statewide.
A second surge in cases that began in mid-November has declined significantly from the highest case rate it reached Nov. 24.
Southwest Virginia’s seven-day rolling average of new cases has dropped from 336 to 257 since then. It remains well more than double Virginia’s overall rate, which also dropped to 113.
And Breanne Forbes Hubbard of the Mount Rogers Health District said she remains concerned with rates this high and an unwanted trend in testing.
“In Mount Rogers, our percent positivity is actually increasing,” Forbes Hubbard said. “It’s certainly good news that our cases/case rates have declined in recent days, but with the holiday last week, I think it is too soon to tell if that is actually a decrease or artificially lowered due to the holiday.”
Washington County, the region’s most populous county, saw its test positivity percentage jump from 10.5% the week ending Nov. 20 to 16.4% the week ending Nov. 27. It’s only been higher than that for two weeks since January.
The new deaths that have been reported since Thursday include three in Tazewell County, two each in Washington and Buchanan counties and one each in Bristol and Norton.
The highest regional case rates are in Dickenson and Buchanan counties, both over 400, and Wise at 343 new weekly cases per 100,000.
Statewide, VDH reported 713,744 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth on Nov. 29.
According to VDH, the total number of confirmed and probable cases is 967,209.
VDH reports there have been 12,327 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths across the state.
Below is a complete breakdown of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Southwest Virginia since Nov. 26.
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. – 2,394 cases / 183 hospitalizations / 50 deaths (6 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Buchanan County – 2,807 cases / 159 hospitalizations / 77 deaths (23 new cases, 2 new deaths)
Dickenson County – 1,941 cases / 63 hospitalizations / 29 deaths (13 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)
Lee County – 3,901 cases / 141 hospitalizations / 62 deaths (6 new cases)
Norton – 6453 cases / 34 hospitalizations / 17 deaths (5 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Russell County – 4,113 cases / 162 hospitalizations / 68 deaths (22 new cases)
Scott County – 3,410 cases / 177 hospitalizations / 84 deaths (17 cases, 2 new hospitalizations)
Smyth County – 5,162 cases / 329 hospitalizations / 123 deaths (15 new cases)
Tazewell County – 6,078 cases / 224 hospitalizations / 119 deaths (31 new cases, 3 new deaths)
Washington County, Va. – 8,074 cases / 642 hospitalizations / 158 deaths (46 new cases, 6 new hospitalizations, 2 new deaths)
Wise County – 5,867 cases / 236 hospitalizations / 130 deaths (45 new cases, 3 new hospitalizations)
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