As Southwest Virginia sees rise in COVID-19 cases, health leaders urge vaccination


ROANOKE, Va – Since Friday, Virginia has reported 4,655 new COVID-19 cases with experts saying that most of them are likely the rapidly spreading Delta variant.

Health officials said that it’s highly discouraging that the numbers continue to rise.

“Unfortunately we hoped to be out of the woods with this thing by now,” said Nancy Bell with the West Piedmont Health District said.

Health districts across Southwest Virginia are preparing for another surge of COVID cases.

[Virginia sees 1,298 new coronavirus cases, now reporting 709,319 statewide]

Local health leaders said if people continue to choose not to get the vaccine, this could just be the beginning.

“Our region is lagging behind some of our southern states with the Delta surge and we’re learning from what their experiences,” explained New River Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell.

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In the West Piedmont Health District, which covers Martinsville, as well as Henry, Franklin and Patrick counties, no locality has 46% of its total population fully vaccinated. Here’s a breakdown of the rates as of Monday:

  • Martinsville – 45.4%

  • Franklin County – 39%

  • Henry County – 37.9%

  • Patrick County – 32.4%

Because of popular summertime activities, more people are getting sick.

“Traveling athletic teams that are gearing up for the school year and church gatherings are the root of most of this,” Bell said.

The new daily cases also mean more and more people are being admitted to local hospitals.

“This is really disheartening to our health care workers right now that we’re going through this again when we have a very safe, effective vaccine,” Bissell said.

Leaders said that what’s happening now is once again putting a strain on health systems as they try to remain afloat.

“There may not be a hospital bed for you if you don’t get vaccinated,” Bell said.

To search for all COVID-19 vaccine availability, visit www.vaccines.gov.

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