7th case of COVID-19 reported in Page County; PMH ready for potential ‘surge’

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Breaking News on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Page County, Virginia
Page Valley News will have continuing coverage of the Coronavirus' impact on Page County

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, April 16 — The Virginia Department of Health reported a seventh case of COVID-19 in Page County Thursday morning.

This is the first new case reported in Page County in the last five days. Page reported its sixth case on April 11, and its first case on March 31.

The Lord Fairfax Health District saw only two new cases reported in the last 24 hours. However, health officials say it’s still too soon to know if things are leveling off as the district has seen a 20.6-percent increase in new cases since Monday.

“While [the number of new cases in the U.S.] are still going up, they are not going up as fast as they were,” said Dr. Colin Greene, director of the local health district, during a webinar about COVID-19 on Wednesday.

“I can tell you with some certainty, that there are more than six people in Page County with the coronavirus,” Dr. Greene said during the webinar (citing Wednesday’s total number of cases in Page).

“We’re still not really sure how many mild or undetected cases there are,” Dr. Greene continued during the webinar. “Their symptoms may be so mild they haven’t surfaced yet.”

As of April 16, VDH was reporting the following breakdown for COVID-19 cases within the health district:

  • 72 — Frederick County
  • 28 — Shenandoah County
  • 21 — Warren County
  • 21 — City of Winchester
  • 7 — Page County
  • 6 — Clarke County

The biggest increases within the health district over the past week have been in Shenandoah and Warren counties. Shenandoah County jumped from 15 to 28 COVID-19 cases over the last seven days, while Warren climbed from nine to 21.

“It is difficult to know when or if we will have a much larger surge,” said Dr. Barbara Walter, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Page Memorial Hospital. “Our community has done well with social distancing and sacrificing time and boredom for the lives of their fellow Page Countians.”

Frederick County, who has the highest number of cases in the district at 72, has only seen 10 new cases since April 10.

While there are a total of 155 cases of COVID-19 within the local health district — which includes five counties — the City of Harrisonburg alone has 119 cases — 18 new cases in just the last 24 hours. Rockingham County has an additional 69 cases. Harrisonburg and Rockingham make up the biggest “cluster” of cases in this portion of the state.

Virginia’s biggest “hot spot” remains in Northern Virginia — particularly Fairfax County, which now has 1,375 cases of COVID-19. Five days ago, there were 946. Over the last 24 hours, 77 new cases were reported.

As of April 16, the breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Northern Virginia is:

  • 1,375 — Fairfax County
  • 582 — Prince William County
  • 453 — Arlington
  • 378 — Loudoun County
  • 275 — Alexandria

The three biggest clusters of cases in the state center around the largest population areas. However, the second-biggest cluster is not in the Tidewater area, as population figures might indicate. The Richmond-area has shown a much greater increase in the spread of the coronavirus. Chesterfield County in particular has seen cases nearly double in about a week. As of Thursday, the breakdown for that area is:

  • 497 — Henrico
  • 267 — Chesterfield
  • 188 — City of Richmond
  • 61 — Hanover County

Surprisingly, the densely-populated City of Virginia Beach has only seen seven new cases since Monday. The breakdown of cases in that area as of April 16 include:

  • 258 — Virginia Beach
  • 143 — Chesapeake
  • 105 — Norfolk
  • 97 — Newport News
  • 77 — Hampton

Slightly north of those localities, James City has 135 cases. Stafford County (just south of Prince William) is the only other jurisdiction in the state with more than 100 cases, at 120.

The VDH reports a total of 112 outbreaks in Virginia, with 63 at long-term care facilities.

COVID-19 cases in Virginia have risen by an average of 403 statewide each day this week. This is slightly less than the state’s biggest two-day gain between April 9-11 of 1,035.

As of Wednesday in Virginia, 46,444 people have been tested with a total of 6,889 COVID-19 cases. While new cases grew statewide by about 400 daily over the past week, hospitalizations rose at a rate of about 70 per day. 

According to a report Thursday morning from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, 1,337 patients statewide are currently hospitalized who have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or have tests pending. Of those, 427 are currently in intensive care and 238 are on ventilators.

Virginia has 2,841 ventilators, with 700 currently in use (25 percent). There are currently 5,543 hospital beds available statewide.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Virginia’s death toll rose nearly 27 percent, from 154 to 195. As of Thursday, the state’s total deaths due to COVID-19 stood at 208.

Health officials at the national and state level are having difficulty predicting when numbers might peak. Nationally, while one area (like New York) may seem to be leveling off, another area (like Philadelphia) may be showing sharp increases. Therefore, many experts are saying that projections about peaking, ending or even reopening will vary from state to state.

In Virginia, the same is true. While the local health district saw only two cases since yesterday, Harrisonburg reported 18 — and while Virginia Beach has only had seven new cases since Monday, Fairfax has reported 211 in the same period.

On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam issued a call for more healthcare volunteers to step up through the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps. The press release states, “It is estimated up to 30,000 volunteers are needed to provide support for the expected surge in hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the Commonwealth.”

Despite what may be ahead — and multiple models prove even the experts don’t know what that might be — Dr. Walter says Page Memorial Hospital is ready to help those in need here in Page County.

“I have been very proud of the way in which the medical staff and the nursing and ancillary staff are coping with the current paradigm shift in patient care,” Dr. Walter said. “They are well in command of the safety processes which are in place to protect them and the members of our community at large.

“For the time being, we are maintaining our PPE supplies through appropriate use and following protocols,” Dr. Walter continued. “Valley Health has [put in place] a robust Tele Critical Care, which allows us to have an Intensivist from Winchester Medical Center help us determine the appropriate treatment for some of our sicker patients and the appropriate location for them to be. This has been a very useful service for our medical staff.

“So, compared to a few weeks ago, we are better prepared for any ‘surge’ which may arise,” Dr. Walter added. “We have had the opportunity to tweak the processes during a time when chaos does not exist. Valley Health and its leaders have done a tremendous job in building a robust system approach to care in this geographic treatment area.”

PMH’s VP of Medical Affairs also praised the community.

“We have seen an incredible outpouring of support from the local community in terms of well wishes and delivery of supplies and food,” Dr. Walter said. “We greatly appreciate everything our community is doing for us—love those hand-sewn masks! What a community. The morale of the staff is quite high—thank you for the support.”

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