COVID cases remain high but steady in Roanoke region

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 3:48 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - COVID cases in the Roanoke region are high but holding steady. It’s something Dr. Cynthia Morrow of the Roanoke City Alleghany Health Districts is watching closely, along with Monkeypox and Hepatitis A cases.

She addressed all three illnesses during a briefing Tuesday morning.

Here’s what you need to know to get caught up.

COVID-19:

Dr. Cynthia Morrow said the number of positive COVID-19 test results is about the same as they have been the last few weeks.

Hospitalizations are slightly up. The BA5 variant remains the predominant strain, which is better at evading vaccine protection and natural immunity.

But Dr. Morrow still encourages people to get vaccinated and recommends getting the booster as soon as you’re eligible.

Don’t wait, get it now.”

Dr. Cynthia Morrow talking about COVID vaccines and boosters

“Don’t wait, get it now, if you’re interested in getting vaccinated which I would certainly encourage that.” she said. “We are not recommending that people wait until the new booster comes out which will have additional coverage because we don’t know the timeline for that.”

While Dr. Morrow says it’s reassuring that numbers have been steady for the last week, they can’t predict exactly what COVID will do next.

MONKEYPOX:

Virginia has reported more than 112 cases of Monkeypox, but only three of them have been linked to southwest Virginia. There have been seven cases reported in the Central Virginia region.

Dr. Morrow emphasized that this is not a casually transmitted illness. Most at risk include men who have sex with men, people who engage in anonymous sex, those with multiple sexual partners, and commercial sex workers. The health district has begun offering monkeypox vaccines to those most at risk- distributing more than 30 doses so far.

“There is a very, very low risk of respiratory transmission,” she explained. “But overwhelmingly the transmission is direct contact with the skin of someone who has Monkeypox sores, to be a little bit graphic about it.”

In Virginia, 99 percent of cases are in men, mostly those between 30 and 39.

Dr. Morrow says those who fall into those at-risk categories can reach out to their doctor or local health district to learn more about vaccines.

HEPATITIS A:

Hepatitis A case numbers continue to percolate in the Roanoke region, Dr. Morrow explained.

So far, there have been 79 cases since January 1 and 58 hospitalizations - this in a region where there were, at most, two to three cases per year.

Dr. Morrow has said previously that intravenous drug users are disproportionately affected.

The Health District continues to work with partner agencies to distribute vaccines to restaurant workers and those most at risk.

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