RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — A Virginia Department of Health (VDH) year-end data reconciliation that takes out-of-state deaths into account had an outsized effect on already hard-hit Southwest Virginia. The rural nine-county area accounted for 34 of the state’s 185 new reported COVID-19 deaths Tuesday.

The region accounts for just 3.4% of Virginia’s population but had 18.4% of Tuesday’s reported deaths. That pushed the region’s deaths per 100,000 population to 349 over the entirety of the COVID pandemic, which is nearly double the state’s rate of 182.

The News Channel 11 Southwest Virginia viewing area has now recorded 1,010 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

Southwest Virginia’s COVID death rate is nearly double the state’s, and a data adjustment Tuesday put the rural region’s total death toll from COVID above 1,000. (WJHL Photo)

VDH added 169 deaths of Virginia residents who died out of state at some point during the year. The agency’s website said there is usually a long delay before Virginia receives those reports and that the deaths are assessed and reported each year as a “routine data quality step.”

The region’s proximity to nearby out-of-state hospitals probably helps explain why its share of the reconciled deaths was larger.

The deaths added Wednesday included eight in Washington County, five each in Bristol and Dickenson and Lee counties, four in Scott County, three in Wise County, two in Russell County and one each in Norton and Smyth County.

Smyth and Scott counties have the third- and fourth-highest COVID death rates per 100,000 of Virginia’s 95 counties. Buchanan and Wise counties are both in the top 12. The lowest county death rate is in Dickenson County, at 262 — still about 40% higher than Virginia’s overall rate.

Omicron spike still hasn’t reached region

The recent rapid spike in new COVID case rates statewide continued Tuesday while Southwest Virginia’s numbers stayed relatively flat as 174 new cases were reported by VDH. That actually brought the region’s seven-day rolling average to 346 new cases per 100,000 population, down slightly from 346 Monday.

The statewide new COVID-19 case rate continued its rapid rise Tuesday, while rates remained flat in Southwest Virginia.

Virginia reported 7,439 cases statewide to move its rolling average to 552 from 517 Monday.

The Omicron variant has slammed urban areas the past week-plus. Just two weeks ago, Southwest Virginia’s rate was 358 and the state rate was just 209.

The region recorded six new hospitalizations Tuesday — two each in Russell, Scott and Smyth counties.

The state hospitalization rate has climbed sharply over the past week to 11.8 new weekly hospitalizations per 100,000, a higher rate than it reached at any point during the Delta variant surge in August and September.

For the first time in months, it has been higher than Southwest Virginia’s seven-day rate over the past two days. The region’s rate stood at 9.0 Tuesday.

Statewide, VDH reported 780,647 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth on Dec. 28.

According to VDH, the total number of confirmed and probable cases is 1,075,288.

VDH reports there have been 12,959 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. – 2,678 cases / 201 hospitalizations / 52 deaths (4 new cases, 5 new deaths)
Buchanan County – 3,073 cases / 174 hospitalizations / 85 deaths (17 new cases)
Dickenson County – 2,167 cases / 67 hospitalizations / 38 deaths (11 new cases, 5 new deaths)
Lee County – 4,096 cases / 147 hospitalizations / 67 deaths (9 new cases, 5 new deaths)
Norton – 739 cases / 36 hospitalizations / 20 deaths (4 new cases, 1 new death)
Russell County – 4,583 cases / 170 hospitalizations / 76 deaths (16 new cases, 2 new hospitalizations, 2 new deaths)
Scott County – 3,720 cases / 191 hospitalizations / 93 deaths (8 new cases, 2 new hospitalizations, 4 new deaths)
Smyth County – 5,578 cases / 351 hospitalizations / 137 deaths (13 new cases, 2 new hospitalizations, 1 new death)
Tazewell County – 6,721 cases / 230 hospitalizations / 121 deaths (25 new cases)
Washington County, Va. – 9,023 cases / 698 hospitalizations / 176 deaths (30 new cases, 8 new deaths)
Wise County – 6,464 cases / 257 hospitalizations / 145 deaths (37 new cases, 3 new deaths)

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