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New River Health District Director believes COVID cases have peaked

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT
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NEW RIVER VALLEY, Va. (WDBJ) - COVID-19 cases in the New River Valley have consistently been on the rise since late July, according to data from the New River Health District. Health Director Dr. Noelle Bissell said she believes cases have hit their peak, and the hope is they will start to decline in the coming weeks.

Though COVID-19 numbers in the last week look like they are significantly down, Dr. Bissell believes as more tests and data come in for this week, those numbers will be closer to what they were in late August and the first week of September. But a potential positive might be coming near the end of the month.

“Over the coming weeks, if the trend continues, then we should start seeing cases go down.”

The numbers for K-12 students have also been on the rise, which Bissell said isn’t uncommon because the majority are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“To protect them, the best thing we can do is get vaccinated.”

Dr. Bissell said they do not expect a surge in cases following Virginia Tech football games because of the high vaccine rates and the events being held outside.

As of Monday, there are 66 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the New River Health District, according to NRHD.

“Our hospitals are at or near capacity and their staff is really worn out, they’re tired and admittedly they are frustrated because most of the sickest patients are those who are not vaccinated.”

Carilion’s NRV Medical Center has put up a tent outside its emergency room, but officials said it is only precautionary at this time and has not been used yet. Bissell said she has not heard LewisGale Hospital Montgomery has planned to do the same.

When it comes to the recent vaccine campaign, Bissell said numbers could be better, but she believes the state’s vaccination rate as a whole has helped with the Delta variant surge.

“I do think overall though Virginia being one of the more vaccinated states has contributed to our surge from Delta not being like what you saw with Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, some of those places where vaccinate rates are much lower.”

Bissell believes over the long-term, COVID will be looked at like the flu, with an annual shot.

Dr. Bissell also spoke about the Mu variant; she said the Delta variant continues to be the most transmissible, and the best way residents can continue to protect themselves against all the variants is to get vaccinated.

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