NRV COVID-19 numbers trend down, health director hosts new weekly status updates

Radford University reports only two new cases in the last week
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 10:16 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Health officials say the number of new COVID-19 cases in the New River Valley is going down. That trend is reflected at local universities, with Radford only reporting two new cases this week.

“We expect that we are going to keep having community spread, and our job is to keep that as low as possible,” said health district Director Dr. Noelle Bissell.

At a new weekly media status check-in, reporters got a chance to ask Bissell about the latest on coronavirus in the NRV.

“We cannot get complacent because we don’t want to see a rise in cases from getting too complacent,” she said.

The biggest update Tuesday showed a recent spike in cases is on the way down.

“This is called an epidemic curve and it goes by week, and you can see where the cases have gone up, and they have come down quite nicely,” Bissell said while explaining one of the bar graphs outlining the data.

That trend is reflected in Radford University’s numbers. Tuesday, its updated dashboard showed only two new positive cases in the last week.

“Our Highlanders should be proud of themselves,” said university spokesperson Caitlyn Scaggs. “This has been an unprecedented semester and they have stayed the course and as a result we have slowed the spread.”

You might have also noticed the NRV Taskforce just started to send out COVID-19 snapshots. Dr. Bissell said it’s an effort to help communicate with us even more based on community feedback.

“We’re not hiding information, we’re trying to put information out there as soon as we have it and to make it the most current,” she said. “We felt like this was one way to consolidate all of that and give everyone an opportunity and an opportunity for me to share what I felt was important to get out there.”

Bissell said most cases here are in the college demographic, and from a public health standpoint, it has been manageable. She said there has been adequate isolation space and hospital beds throughout this peak. Radford University hit its peak around Aug. 31, and Virginia Tech hit its peak the first week of September.

“From a public health standpoint we kind of got what we saw, it was manageable,” Bissell said. “We saw the peaks and things have come down. I think both universities stayed on track and we’re seeing the benefit of that.”

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