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Four more deaths chalked up to COVID-19 in West Piedmont Health District.
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Four more deaths chalked up to COVID-19 in West Piedmont Health District.

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You can add four more deaths to the record-setting toll from February because of COVID-19.

Those deaths in the West Piedmont Health District were counted at 5 p.m. on the first day of March, but they continue the trend in 2021 that has led from a record number cases in January to a 79 deaths in February – which followed a then-record 42 deaths in January as well.

The Virginia Department of Health confirms causes on death certificates often before adding to its total of victims from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

And we know from West Piedmont spokesperson Nancy Bell this latest surge of deaths simply has been about getting through records and beginning to explore the outcomes of the more than 3,300 cases that emerged in January.

She said specifically, too, that these deaths had nothing to do with recent outbreaks at long-term-care facilities in the health district.

A large outbreak at Mulberry Creek Nursing & Rehab in Martinsville that began in January had left 17 dead and some 151 cases among residents and staff, but that outbreak is pending closure.

kings_grant

Kings Grant Retirement Community is located at 350 Kings Way Road in Martinsville.

“Per VDH outbreak investigation procedures, and as explained on the COVID-19 Outbreaks by Selected Exposures Settings dashboard, this outbreak has been moved to the Outbreak Pending Closure view,” Bell wrote in an email. “As per the outbreak-related definitions—on this same page at the bottom—an outbreak is pending closure if 28 days have passed without a documented new case and the outbreak has not yet been closed in VOSS (Virginia Outbreak Surveillance System).

“There may be delays in confirming the outbreak investigation is closed because the health department has to collect and process the data. This status only refers to the outbreak investigation pending closure in VOSS and not the facility closing.”

The only remaining ongoing outbreak has been at King’s Grant Retirement Community in Henry County, where 37 cases were identified along with fewer than five deaths. VDH reports that there has been at least one death but does not disclose the number until it reaches five in an effort to protect privacy.

King’s Grant Executive Director James Souter said this week that there have been 18 cases involving residents of the facility since the pandemic began. The rest have involved staff, he said there was one lingering case of a staff member.

Long-term-care facility residents and staffers were among the first to receive vaccine for the virus, and the number of residents in the district who have had at least one shot has surged past 18,000 (13.3% of the population), with 7,175 (5.2%) now fully vaccinated.

Statewide 15.5% have had at least one shot, and 697,879 are fully vaccinated.

Cases still declining

That good news, though, is offset by the now 257 deaths in the district since the pandemic began, with 125 of them having been recorded this year.

Two of the deaths revealed Tuesday were of residents of Martinsville, which now has had 59. Henry County (108) and Franklin County (54) had one each. All data are tracked by residence.

Latest COVID-19 data: Through March 1

Unknown field 1 Cases Hospitalizations Deaths Positivity rate Vaccine doses Fully vaccinated
Henry County 4,212 287 108 6,679 2,303
Martinsville 1,509 128 59 1,947 674
Patrick County 1,200 92 36 1,958 716
Franklin County 3,721 127 54 7,712 3,482
West Piedmont total 10,642 634 257 10.40% 18,296 7,175
Danville 4,321 237 108 5,582 2,837
Pittsylvania County 4,771 165 65 12.90% 9,020 3,955
Virginia 578,559 24,258 8,943 6.70% 1,318,890 697,879

We don’t know much about these four. There were two men and two women, and three were Black and one white. The ages are vague based on the data file, but at least two appear to be 80 or older.

Nearly 200 of those who have died have been at least 70, and they are predominately white men.

These deaths were accompanied Tuesday by six hospitalizations but there were only 15 new cases, as those numbers continue to decline.

The 7-day rolling average of cases is at 26. Franklin County had seven of the new cases, and Henry County had six. Patrick County had two and Martinsville none.

Henry County had three of the hospitalizations, with Patrick County having two and Franklin County one.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was revealed in the West Piedmont Health District on March 20, there have been 10,642 cases, 634 hospitalizations and 257 deaths.

They break down like this:

  • Henry County: 4,212 cases, 287 hospitalizations, 108 deaths.
  • Martinsville: 1,509, 128, 59.
  • Patrick County: 1,200, 92, 36
  • Franklin County: 3,721, 127, 54.

There were 160 new deaths reported statewide on Tuesday, and VDH reports that statewide there have been 578,559 cases, 24,258 hospitalizations and 8,943 deaths.

Steven Doyle is editor of the Martinsville Bulletin and the Danville Register & Bee. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, ext. 245.

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