RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Washington County, Virginia has the state’s highest new COVID case rate as a surge there has pushed its numbers to more than double their rate of just a couple weeks ago, Virginia Department of Health (VDH) data show.

Southwest Virginia’s most populous county reported 49 new cases Wednesday while Bristol reported 11. The combined rate of new weekly cases per 100,000 (including Bristol) is 516. Just two weeks ago, it stood at around 150 and was almost the lowest rate in the region.

The nine-county region reported 199 new cases Wednesday, leaving its case rate relatively flat at 410, down from 421 Tuesday. Virginia’s statewide rate increased from 190 to 195 — still less than half of rural Southwest Virginia’s rate.

Hospitalization rate rising quickly

The region reported 11 new COVID hospitalizations, including four in Smyth County and three in Washington County. Two were reported in Wise County and one each in Dickenson and Scott counties.

Southwest Virginia’s COVID hospitalization rate has spiked the past couple of weeks, following a case increase that began in mid-November. The case rate was 221 on Nov. 15, reached 334 Nov. 24 and has been above 400 this week for the first time since early October.

When cases decreased in late October, the hospitalization rate eventually fell sharply in response. It dropped from 24 new weekly hospitalizations per 100,000 Nov. 3 to just under 6 on Nov. 14.

The rate bumped up and down between 6 and 13 until the end of November, but it has increased sharply since and reached 19.3 Wednesday. That’s four times Virginia’s rate of 4.7 and the highest the region has seen since Nov. 3.

The region has reported 68 new COVID hospitalizations in the past nine days.

The delta variant surge has produced hospitalization rates in Southwest Virginia nearly triple those of the state. Since September 1 the region’s had 206 COVID hospitalizations per 100,000, while the statewide figure is 76.

Death numbers still low – but higher than state’s

If the case increase is going to yield a rise in COVID deaths, it hasn’t hit yet for that lagging indicator. The two deaths reported Wednesday actually dropped Southwest Virginia’s seven-day average to 2.8 COVID deaths per 100,000, which is its lowest point since early September.

Southwest Virginia’s COVID vaccination rate remains far below the state’s. The percentage of people fully vaccinated was 46.3% Wednesday compared to 65.9% statewide.

But since Sept. 1, the region’s COVID death total is 94 per 100,000, compared to 35 statewide.

Statewide, VDH reported 727,071 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth on Dec. 8.

According to VDH, the total number of confirmed and probable cases is 988,147.

VDH reports there have been 12,460 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths across the state.

Below is a complete breakdown of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Southwest Virginia since Dec. 7.

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. – 2,493 cases / 189 hospitalizations / 50 deaths (11 new cases)
Buchanan County – 2,903 cases / 166 hospitalizations / 82 deaths (1 new case, 1 new death)
Dickenson County – 2,036 cases / 67 hospitalizations / 30 deaths (21 new cases, 1 new hospitalization)
Lee County – 3,966 cases / 143 hospitalizations / 62 deaths (5 new cases)
Norton – 678 cases / 35 hospitalizations / 17 deaths (5 new cases)
Russell County – 4,255 cases / 165 hospitalizations / 69 deaths (28 new cases)
Scott County – 3,543 cases / 183 hospitalizations / 85 deaths (8 new cases, 1 new hospitalization, 1 new death)
Smyth County – 5,314 cases / 343 hospitalizations / 126 deaths (18 new cases, 4 new hospitalizations)
Tazewell County – 6,277 cases / 225 hospitalizations / 119 deaths (30 new cases)
Washington County, Va. – 8,457 cases / 660 hospitalizations / 160 deaths (49 new cases, 3 new hospitalizations)
Wise County – 6,074 cases / 243 hospitalizations / 132 deaths (23 new cases, 2 new hospitalizations)

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