RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Southwest Virginia’s new weekly COVID-19 case rate fell below 500 for the first time since Sept. 9 Friday as 151 new cases were reported by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

But the consequences of those high rates continued to be felt as seven new deaths were reported along with five new hospitalizations. After 28 reported deaths in the first half of September, the nine-county region saw 50 reported deaths in the month’s second half — and that doesn’t include the seven reported Friday to start October.

‘We’re doing everything we can, but the prognosis is so poor.’

norton community hospital icu patient care services director lori looney

Since Sept. 15, Southwest Virginia reported deaths per 100,000 population are more than two-and-a-half times the rate statewide — 20.4 regionally to 8.0 statewide.

The seven more deaths recorded overnight included one each in Buchanan, Scott and Tazewell counties and Norton, while Wise County reported three new deaths.

Southwest Virginians COVID-19 deaths are running at more than 2.5 times the state average on a population-adjusted basis since mid-September.

Lori Looney is a nurse who oversees patient care services for the intensive care unit (ICU) at Norton Community Hospital. She’s seeing firsthand the impact, with the hospital’s ICU beds currently staying filled up with COVID patients.

“Right now, most of the patients we have are on ventilators that have COVID,” Looney told News Channel 11 this week.

“And we’re not having great outcomes — not that we’re not doing everything we can … and that’s hard as a nurse because you want to help people and you go to school to be a nurse to help people, and we’re doing everything we can, but just the prognosis is so poor.”

Hospitalizations per 100,000 since Sept. 15 are 45.3 in the region, more than double the 19.8 rate statewide.

Statewide, VDH reported 650,549 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth on Oct. 1.

According to VDH, the total number of confirmed and probable cases is 869,328.

The new COVID case rate has dropped in Southwest Virginia but still remains more than double the statewide rate.

VDH reports there have been 10,816 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths across the state.

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. – 2,156 cases / 156 hospitalizations / 44 deaths (6 new cases)
Buchanan County – 2,151 cases / 132 hospitalizations / 50 deaths (12 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Dickenson County – 1,445 cases / 53 hospitalizations / 22 deaths (5 new cases)
Lee County – 3,437 cases / 132 hospitalizations / 53 deaths (13 new cases)
Norton – 498 cases / 28 hospitalizations / 11 deaths (1 new death)
Russell County – 3,410 cases / 147 hospitalizations / 49 deaths (20 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)
Scott County – 2,755 cases / 157 hospitalizations / 71 deaths (15 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Smyth County – 4,251 cases / 254 hospitalizations / 103 deaths (15 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)
Tazewell County – 5,343 cases / 213 hospitalizations / 90 deaths (38 new cases, 1 new death)
Washington County, Va. – 6,958 cases / 539 hospitalizations / 132 deaths (15 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)
Wise County – 4,681 cases / 214 hospitalizations / 121 deaths (12 new cases, 3 new deaths)

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