Roanoke’s public health briefing: COVID remains low, invasive strep A on the rise

Department of Health offices in Richmond, Va.
Department of Health offices in Richmond, Va.(Parker Michels-Boyce, Virginia Mercury)
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 3:47 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - During her public health briefing Tuesday, Dr. Cynthia Morrow said COVID-19 levels remained low. What currently draws the attention of the Roanoke City Alleghany Health District is the rise in Invasive Group A Strep infections.

Here’s what Dr. Morrow had to say by topic.


- Dr. Morrow says the numbers for the health district are low but but stable.

- here were less than 50 lab-confirmed cases in last two weeks.

-While the district can’t capture all positive cases, all indicators support the low, but stable outlook.

-The COVID-19 national emergency order will expire in May, but Dr. Morrow said it won’t have much of an immediate effect locally.

“We still have vaccines that we can offer and will continue to offer,” Dr. Morrow explained. “We still have testing capacity by providing at home tests for organizations that serve vulnerable individuals who may not have the ability to get tests through their own pharmacy. So a lot of our day-to-day operations are not going to be significantly impacted.”


-Dr. Morrow warned residents to take precautions as they start heading outside to enjoy the warmer weather.

-She emphasized that ticks can carry some severe and even debilitating illnesses, as can mosquitoes.

-She encouraged everyone to wear the right clothing and repellant when you’re outside. You can learn more about what works best here.


-This is a severe and sometimes life-threatening infection. It happens when bacteria invades parts of the body where it’s not normally found - like our blood, muscles or lungs.

-So far this year, the RCAHD has logged 22 cases of iGAS. All cases required hospitalization and there were some deaths associated also.

-There were 26 total iGAS cases for all of 2022.

-The biggest risk factors for severe illness are substance use disorder and a history of minor skin injuries like scrapes and burns.

-The rise in cases here is a trend the CDC is tracking around the country - where, in some places, cases are as high or higher than they were pre-pandemic.

-Sometimes it’s hard to identify the source. Prevention include taking care of the integrity of the skin

“But it’s just really important for people to continue to take proper precautions, and minimize the risks with with wound care,” said Dr. Morrow. “Covering, for example, covering a burn, making sure you’re using antibiotic cream on scrapes.>>

-People with Substance Use Disorder are considered at higher risk,

-RCAHD is working to partner with community groups to bring clinical care to those who need it but are less likely to be able to access it independently.