New cases low in Lord Fairfax Health District; Harrisonburg sees spike

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

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, Aug. 28 — The Lord Fairfax Health District has shown a decline in new cases of COVID-19 over the past few days, and only reported four new cases on Friday. In fact, the health district only netted one new case this morning, as three others were taken off the totals of three different localities within the district.

Dr. Colin Greene, director of the local health district, told the Northern Virginia Daily this week that, “It’s probably just an accounting change of where someone’s address is.”

In the last 10 days, 10 cases of COVID-19 have been removed from the totals of localities within the health district. The City of Winchester had four cases removed from its total on Thursday. With the Winchester Medical Center being one of the key healthcare facilities treating COVID-19 patients in the region, Dr. Greene notes that some patients may be coming from other areas for treatment with the cases initially being credited to Winchester rather than the patient’s home county, even within the health district.

Page County lead the Lord Fairfax Health District in new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — with only two. Page had gone six of the previous seven days without reporting any new cases of the coronavirus. However, over the past seven days, only three of the 141 tests administered for COVID-19 on patients from Page County came back positive. That gives Page a seven-day positivity rate of only 2.1 percent. Virginia’s positivity rate over the past week sits at 6.8 percent.

The Virginia Department of Health also reported new cases of the coronavirus in Clarke and Shenandoah counties on Friday. They each had one. The health district has only seen a net total of nine new cases of COVID-19 over the past three days. During that time, the district has not reported any new hospitalizations or deaths.

A cumulative breakdown by jurisdiction of the health district’s 2,779 reported cases, 237 hospitalizations and 93 deaths is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):

  • 764 — Shenandoah County (80-48)
  • 757 — Frederick County (56-10)
  • 431 — City of Winchester (32-4)
  • 389 — Warren County (22-6)
  • 360 — Page County (39-25)
  • 78 — Clarke County (8-0)

The City of Harrisonburg is seeing a spike in new cases of COVID-19, with 24 reported Friday morning. That followed 18 new cases reported on Thursday. Rockingham County reported an additional 21 new cases in the last two days. However, neither jurisdiction has reported  a new death or hospitalization in the past three days.

Health officials are watching the Friendly City closely as college students begin to head back to campus to begin fall semester classes. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that there have been 558 positive cases for COVID-19 reported among 21 colleges and universities across the Commonwealth. The RTD surveyed a total of 41 four-year institutions in Virginia.

While all schools are implementing safety measures and guidelines outlined by the state health department and the CDC, some have backed off earlier plans to bring students back on campus and will rely solely on remote learning.

The New York Times reports that more than 26,000 cases of the coronavirus and 64 related-deaths have occurred at colleges around the nation since the beginning of the pandemic. However, no school of higher learning in Virginia has reported a death from COVID-19.

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond has reported 110 cases of the virus and is creating isolation spaces. James Madison University recently saw five positive tests among football players and has ceased practice until early September, or possibly later. Both Virginia and Virginia Tech saw their opening football games canceled for Sept. 12, when VMI (U.Va.’s opponent) canceled its season and N.C. State (Tech’s opponent) opted to reschedule the matchup for later in the month.

Dr. Greene said that the reopening of schools — at all levels — could potentially lead to an increase in cases. One pandemic model that takes that into consideration, produced by the University of Virginia, calls for a rise in the transmission of cases in September and October as more people begin to interact.

Statewide, the U.Va. model calls for another peak in mid- to late-October, while it shows the Lord Fairfax Health District peaking again around Nov. 1.

However, Dr. Greene noted that all models are “purely hypothetical.”

On Friday, Virginia reported 1,013 new cases of COVID-19. That followed 1,121 new cases reported on Thursday. Overall, statewide cases have been rising, with four of the last seven days eclipsing 1,000 new cases. The previous seven days saw none exceeding 1,000 cases.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported Friday that 1,101 people are currently hospitalized that have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. That figure is down 73 since yesterday.

Among those hospitalized, 261 are in intensive care, according to VHHA — down three since yesterday. Currently, there are 136 COVID-19 patients statewide on ventilators, down 12 since yesterday.

Since the pandemic hit Virginia, VHHA reports that 14,866 people who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and were hospitalized, have been discharged.

VDH reported 23 more deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday. Virginia has seen 56 people die from the coronavirus in the last three days, and 2,550 since March 14.

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