16 COVID-19 deaths in Martinsville and Henry County since August 1

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:18 PM EDT
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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - After going more than two months with only two COVID-19 deaths in Martinsville and Henry County, the COVID-19 death rate has surged.

“We could not imagine we would be here at this point in time, after the surge of people wanted to get vaccinated and use rounding up the troops to get everyone vaccinated,” said West Piedmont Health District’s Nancy Bell.

Bell says two factors are at play in the recent spike in deaths, one being the area’s below-average vaccination rates.

“Fifteen of the 16 deaths were not vaccinated,” said Bell.

The second factor is the increasing prevalence of the delta variant.

“We found delta in more than 16% of the tests that we sent off, which means that we are not vaccinated and we are getting delta, which is a much more serious strain of the virus,” said Bell.

The health district is not releasing the ages of the victims and says the cases can be linked to rampant community spread.

“Community spread we thought was a thing of the past, we hoped would be the case, but we are back in community spread now,” said Bell.

The health district will be offering drive-thru COVID testing weekly at the Martinsville Armory.

Officials say they’re seeing an increase in demand for testing because of the rise in cases, and new workplace requirements.

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