Page County recorded another COVID-related death on Wednesday, as cases rose sharply around the Lord Fairfax Health District.
The health district added 50 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, 20 of them in Warren County, 12 in Frederick County, eight in Page County, six in Winchester, three in Clarke County and one in Shenandoah County.
Additional hospitalizations were recorded in Winchester (one), Warren County (one) and Page County (two).
The spike in cases follows what Lord Fairfax Health Director Dr. Colin Greene said Tuesday has been a recent trend of high numbers.
The health district, which covers Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren, had what Greene called a “very low rate” through August and September before the district started to see a steep increase around Oct. 1.
“The bad news is that increase has not gone away, but the good news is at least it’s stopped rising,” he told listeners at a Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday night.
As of Tuesday, he said, the district had been seeing daily spikes in the high 20s and low 30s. That day, the district saw 30 new cases.
The Virginia Department of Health also reported high statewide numbers on Wednesday, adding 1,345 cases, up from Tuesday’s 1,134 new cases, as well as 64 hospitalizations and 16 deaths.
Since the pandemic started, the VDH has recorded 176,754 cases (12,446 considered probable), including 12,384 hospitalizations (136 probable) and 3,616 deaths (252 probable).
Virginia’s seven-day positivity rate for PCR tests is 5.1%.
The local district has had 3,966 cases, 326 hospitalizations and 131 deaths during the pandemic.
“Fortunately we have not seen a big uptick in the death rate, although we’ve had a few in the last few days, but not a substantial rise,” Greene told supervisors. “Obviously one is one too many, but it’s a blessing not to have more.”
Greene addressed the question as to why the district is seeing an uptick in cases but not a corresponding rise in deaths
“It could be that our outbreaks are appearing to be in places other than nursing homes and long-term care facilities,” he said. “I think also we’ve probably gotten better at recognizing and treating the disease more quickly.”
Virginia currently has 1,266 outbreaks, the VDH COVID-19 dashboard says at vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus. The health district has 48.
Greene said the majority of the district’s outbreaks have been at nursing homes, long-term care facilities or other congregate settings but that “embarrassing” recent data has shown outbreaks at health care facilities.
Nine area outbreaks were in health care settings, he said, places where “you think they would know better.”
Three are in correctional facilities, he said: “Those can involve a lot more people fairly quickly, so we have to be careful with those.”
Two are also in college/university settings, both involving sports teams at Shenandoah University, he said — one a group of five to six people, another 17 to 18 people. SU is “still doing fine,” he said.
Most recent outbreaks in the district have been “relatively small,” he said — in the single digits or low double digits.
Most outbreaks have happened where “people feel just a little bit too safe and they let their guard down,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of them at work, in medical facilities, in hospitals,” he said. “People do great when they’re at work and then they get into the lunchroom, the mask comes off and they sit too close to their buddy and there’s a bunch of them in there, and one of them is sick and they all get sick.”
Other settings he cautioned about:
Sports teams, particularly team sports with a ball or a puck
Parties and social gatherings
Contact with non-household family
Weddings, birthdays, funerals (the larger they are, the more likely the virus will spread)
Carpools and recreational rides
Failing to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is another cause of outbreaks, he said.
From medical people who “probably ought to be the best informed” to others who ignore the “three W’s,” he said, “... people are not paying enough attention still and that is a cause of disease spread.”
The three W’s are washing hands, wearing a mask and watching your distance (6 feet apart.)
Shenandoah County Public Schools has recorded 11 students and seven staff with active COVID-19 cases, according to its online dashboard, shenandoah.k12.va.us. The district has said that based on low student numbers, it believes cases were transmitted in the community rather than in a school setting.
On Wednesday the school division saw an additional student case at Central High School and an additional staff case at W.W. Robinson Elementary. Staff cases reported at Stonewall Jackson High and Triplett Tech have been removed, according to the dashboard.
Student cases are reported at Strasburg High School (one), W.W. Robinson Elementary (two), Central High School (four), Stonewall Jackson (one) and Triplett Tech (three).
Staff cases are reported at Signal Knob Elementary (one), Robinson (two), Central (two) and Ashby Lee (one) and at the division level (one).
Central and Strasburg high schools are on a temporary virtual learning model at least through the end of the week. W.W. Robinson will be on a virtual model at least through next week.
Warren County Public Schools has two active staff cases and no active student cases listed on its dashboard at wcps.k12.va.us/index.php/covid-19-dashboard. It lists 38 students and 12 staff members quarantining because of contact with the virus.
All county schools are open, and the website lists its active staff cases as at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School and A.S. Rhodes Elementary School.
Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail has 32 cases of COVID-19 among its staff and inmates, according to a posting on Wednesday at its website, rswregionaljail.com. The jail has 26 inmates and 7 staff members who have tested positive.
“We are working with the Virginia Department of Health and following their recommendations as we move forward,” a post at the website said.
Frederick County has had 1,181 cases (up 12), 84 hospitalizations and 13 deaths.
Shenandoah County has had 967 cases (up one), 97 hospitalizations and 61 deaths.
Winchester has had 617 cases (up six), 42 hospitalizations (up one) and five deaths.
Warren County has had 603 cases (up 20), 39 hospitalizations (up one) and 20 deaths.
Page County has had 478 cases (up eight), 51 hospitalizations (up two) and 31 deaths (up one).
Clarke County has had 120 cases (up three), 13 hospitalizations and one death.
Harrisonburg in the Central Shenandoah Health District has had 3,040 cases (up eight), 102 hospitalizations (up two) and 35 deaths.
Rockingham County, also in the Central Shenandoah Health District, has had 1,764 cases (up 11), 129 hospitalizations (up two) and 27 deaths.