RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Southwest Virginia’s COVID-19 new case rate is less than double Virginia’s overall rate — but only barely — for only the second time since mid-September, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

VDH reported 192 new COVID cases in the nine-county region Thursday, along with five new hospitalizations and two new deaths. The case count brought Southwest Virginia’s rolling seven-day average down to 397 cases per 100,000 population from 410 Wednesday.

Virginia’s rate rose from 195 to 202. While still far below the region’s, it has been rising more quickly in recent days.

Washington County (including Bristol) reported 55 new cases Thursday. A recent surge there has kept its rate above 500 for several days.

Mount Rogers Health District Population Health Manager Breanne Forbes Hubbard said the spike in Washington County isn’t attributable to any clusters or outbreaks.

“It’s just broad transmission,” Forbes Hubbard told News Channel 11.

“We’re seeing it across the district. It’s pretty heavy in those two localities, but our cases almost doubled over the last week and they’re continuing to stay high at that really high level,” she said.

“Southwest Virginia is leading the state. It’s not good for the state and it’s even worse for us down here. It’s not where we want to be.”

Forbes Hubbard said a much lower vaccination rate than in many parts of Virginia is one factor in the wide gap in case rates.

“There’s a lot of people left for the virus to still infect and as we go on with winter gatherings and getting together indoors that’s just more opportunity for the virus to spread between people who are at risk because they don’t have any immunity.”

The region’s hospitalization and death rates remain well above state averages, as they have for several months during the delta variant surge.

Thursday’s reported deaths left the seven-day death rate at its lowest level in several months — 2.8 new weekly deaths per 100,000 population. That’s still nearly double Virginia’s average of 1.5.

The new deaths were reported in Scott and Washington counties.

The new hospitalization rate is 16.9, which is more than triple Virginia’s rate of 5.0. A total of 602 COVID hospitalizations have been reported in Southwest Virginia since Sept. 1.

Statewide, VDH reported 728,989 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth on Dec. 9.

According to VDH, the total number of confirmed and probable cases is 991,221.

VDH reports there have been 12,488 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths across the state.

Below is a complete breakdown of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Southwest Virginia:

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. – 2,508 cases / 189 hospitalizations / 50 deaths (15 new cases)
Buchanan County – 2,910 cases / 166 hospitalizations / 82 deaths (7 new cases)
Dickenson County – 2,056 cases / 67 hospitalizations / 30 deaths (20 new cases)
Lee County – 3,971 cases / 144 hospitalizations / 62 deaths (5 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)
Norton – 682 cases / 35 hospitalizations / 17 deaths (4 new cases)
Russell County – 4,279 cases / 165 hospitalizations / 69 deaths (24 new cases)
Scott County – 3,555 cases / 184 hospitalizations / 86 deaths (12 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Smyth County – 5,331 cases / 343 hospitalizations / 126 deaths (17 new cases)
Tazewell County – 6,277 cases / 225 hospitalizations / 119 deaths (27 new cases)
Washington County, Va. – 8,497 cases / 662 hospitalizations / 161 deaths (40 new cases, 2 new hospitalizations, 1 new death)
Wise County – 6,095 cases / 244 hospitalizations / 132 deaths (21 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)

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