All of southwest Virginia in ‘high’ or ‘medium’ transmission level of COVID-19

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 5:31 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - More than half of Virginia’s counties are in a high transmission level for COVID-19. However, health officials say the high number of cases is actually undercounted.

47 Virginia counties are seeing a high number of COVID-19 cases. All of southwest Virginia is in high and medium transmission levels.

With the increased availability of at-home tests, a spokesperson from the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health District explained people aren’t reporting cases from testing kits at home.

“We are not getting the reports of at-home tests,” Christie Wills said. “We know that what we’re seeing are just a small portion of all the positive tests that people are receiving because now of the widespread availability of at-home tests.”

Even as vaccinations in the Commonwealth have increased to 6.1 million people, the health department explained the immunity can wear off.

“Last year in late July, we saw around 230 cases a week; this year we are at 600. Last year there were about 20 hospitalizations when compared to this year, we’ve got over 30,” Wills said. “If that full vaccination happened over a year ago, then that means perhaps the immunity is waning and could be boosted with a booster dose.”

Carilion Clinic’s medical director for infection prevention and control explained an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations affects those who don’t have the virus.

“When you do have a high number of cases in a hospital being managed for COVID, then you don’t have the beds to take care of other maladies,” Dr. Anthony Baffoe-Bonnie said.

Experts explained with more Virginians being vaccinated and boosted, the severity of high transmission is not the same as it was during the 2022 January peak.

“The fact that there is high transmission levels does not mean we need to panic,” Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie said. “All it means is we need to plan to live with COVID for a long time.”

Health officials said the best way to protect yourself during times of high transmission is to get a COVID-19 booster. Even though there are high transmission levels right now, the health department said it hasn’t reached the peak of more than 4,000 cases a week in January.

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