By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Jan. 25 — Over a span of six hours on Friday, more than 1,400 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Page County High School.
As of Monday morning, the Virginia Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard showed that 2,152 people in Page County have received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and 125 people (mostly healthcare workers) have been fully vaccinated to include the “booster” or second dose.
On Friday morning, those figures stood at 1,295 (first dose) and 98 (fully) — making Monday’s totals short of the 1,400 additional vaccinations that presumably would have been added. However, while the vaccination center was located in Page County, it was not restricted to only Page County residents — as has been the case at other vaccinations centers in surrounding counties. It would be reasonably safe to assume that as many as 500 or more of those vaccinated at PCHS on Friday — or about one-third — were from outside the county.
The state health department conducted the one-day, open clinic (no registration) at the school’s gymnasium in addition to vaccinations being administered at Page Memorial Hospital. School sites are often used as public health distribution sites, such as vaccination centers.
“Because of the unique design of Page County High School’s ventilation system and gymnasium, and the school’s ability to isolate people receiving a vaccine from students and staff, the gymnasium was used as a staging area,” reads a press release issued Monday by Page County Public Schools.
School officials want to be clear with parents and county residents — the students and staff were not put in any additional danger of contracting COVID-19 due to the operation of the vaccination center.
“Recipients entered and exited at the back of the gym. The ventilation system in the gym zone ventilates to the outside and is separate from the ventilation in the rest of the school to prevent cross-contamination. Health workers and people receiving the vaccine were not in contact with students at any time,” the press release states. “The Virginia Department of Health cleaned the staging area during and after the vaccinations. After the vaccination event, custodians deep-cleaned the gym and locker rooms in preparation for the JV game that took place later that evening.”
Other than traffic issues, the process on Friday reportedly went well.
“The clinic was organized by the Virginia Department of Health, and was not a school function. School personnel did assist with parking and traffic flow at the event after unexpected traffic back-ups became the biggest issue,” reads the school division’s press release. “While traffic may have been a problem, the VDH officials present stated, due to our efforts, this was the smoothest vaccination yet organized; additionally, they reported that Friday’s event administered the most vaccinations at a single day, to date.”
“Those who were being vaccinated were nothing but complimentary of the community of Page County and Page County Public Schools, citing our willingness to serve the greater good and move us one step closer to normal,” the school system stated.
Although no date has been set, a follow-up event will be coordinated to administer the second dose of the vaccine.
“A future vaccination event is planned for those who received the first dose on the 22nd. The second dose is necessary for the vaccine to be at maximum efficacy,” the school press release stated. “We anticipate more communication and coordination between the VDH and local entities will take place to prepare for another potentially large turn-out.”
Here’s a breakdown of vaccine doses administered and those who have been fully vaccinated (two doses) across the Lord Fairfax Health District as of Monday’s report:
• 6,420 doses administered, 987 fully vaccinated — City of Winchester;
• 5,307 doses administered, 776 fully vaccinated — Frederick County;
• 4,243 doses administered, 314 fully vaccinated — Shenandoah County;
• 2,938 doses administered, 235 fully vaccinated — Warren County;
• 2,152 doses administered, 125 fully vaccinated — Page County;
• 1,680 doses administered, 118 fully vaccinated — Clarke County.
Despite the good news of a wave of vaccines hitting the county, a total of 85 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Page County since Friday, along with the county’s 39th death from the pandemic.
Page County’s seven-day positivity rate has decreased consistently over the past four days and currently stands at 17.6 percent — however, it still represents the highest positivity rate within the Lord Fairfax Health District, according to Daily Locality Metrics data provided on the VDH website.
According to ZIP code data provided by VDH, the new cases of COVID-19 reported over the weekend in Page County surfaced in the following areas (ZIP code data totals do not always match the county’s daily reports – see details on the VDH ZIP code page link above):
• 39 cases — Luray area (22835);
• 28 cases — Stanley area (22851);
• 15 cases — Shenandoah area (22849);
• 5 cases — Rilleyville area (22650).
The Lord Fairfax Health District has reported a total of 1,038 new cases of COVID-19 in the past four days — by far, the largest four-day total of the entire pandemic. As has been the trend, the largest concentration of those cases have been in Frederick (389) and Shenandoah (213) counties, while the City of Winchester saw a spike of 151 cases on Friday alone.
The health district reported eight hospitalizations and six COVID-related deaths over the weekend. Shenandoah County reported three of those deaths, while Frederick County had two and Page County reported one.
Statewide, 6,172 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday. That represents a significant jump from Sunday’s 3,792 cases and six days of lower daily totals.
Virginia’s seven-day positivity rate continued to fall for a 15th-straight day on Monday and now sits at 12.6 percent. That’s the lowest the state’s positivity rate has been since Dec. 29.
Statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at 2,892, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — that’s down 80 from Friday, and it continues a fourth-straight day of declines.
Among those patients, 554 are being treated in intensive care units — up 45 from Friday. Among those, 324 are currently on ventilators — down eight from Friday. Currently, 34 percent of all ventilators in the state are in use, and 82 percent of the ICU beds in Virginia are occupied.
As of Monday morning, 458,472 people in Virginia had been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, among the more than 1.1 million doses (including Moderna and Pfizer vaccines) that have been distributed to facilities and agencies across the state. A total of 64,381 people in Virginia have been fully vaccinated. Currently, an average of 21,823 doses of the vaccine are being administered each day in Virginia.
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