Experts lay out COVID-19 trends for New River Valley

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 4:10 PM EDT
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - COVID-19 cases in the New River Valley are rising but experts say the data is better now than in previous years.

“We’re getting reported less than 20 cases per day on average,” New River Health District Epidemiologist Jason Deese said Wednesday. “A couple of years ago, it was 10 times that much in the early September timeframe.”

Deese and Lisa Lee, a professor of public health at Virginia Tech, say COVID-19 is here to stay.

“COVID is going to be with us for some time,” she said. “We are experiencing in both Virginia as well as in the US at large, a slight bump in cases at this time, which we fully expect with a respiratory virus.”

Lee said the fall season usually brings increased cases of respiratory illnesses including the flu, RSV and now COVID-19.

“We’re at about half the level we were last year,” she said. “So yes, we’re increasing hospitalizations are up, deaths are up but this time last year was about twice as much as we have now so on the population level, it it’s not quite as problematic as it was last year.”

“The vast majority people have some level of immunity, which also helps to make the illness a little bit less severe, which is very helpful,” Deese said.

Last year flu had an early season. The New River Health District says so far that’s not the case this year.

“I’m not seeing indications of that right now,” Deese said. “Respiratory illness across the board is up a little bit since school started and the universities have kind of reconvened but we aren’t anywhere near the levels that we’re experiencing a couple of years ago.”