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Health district rocked by two more 'net' deaths
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Health district rocked by two more 'net' deaths

From the Martinsville-region COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from state, nation and world: Sept. 16 series
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President Joe Biden met Wednesday with the CEOs of Walt Disney and Columbia Sportswear, and other business executives and leaders, to discuss his recently announced vaccine requirement for companies that employ at least 100 people.

COVID-19’s death blow in the West Piedmont Health District grew again in Wednesday morning’s report by the Virginia Department of Health.

There were two new deaths of Martinsville residents and one from Franklin County. But the death toll in Henry County was reduced by one, leaving a net of two new deaths.

Deductions sometimes happen when a case is listed in the wrong locality because of blurred ZIP codes crossing boundaries, or sometimes clerical error is responsible.

WPHD spokesperson Nancy Bell forwarded a response to questions from VDH’s EPI department.

“Negative numbers or decreases in case counts for a locality are observed as quality assurance (QA) steps are completed,” it said in part. “Performing data quality assurance, such as checking for correct addresses, re-classifying cases to align with national case definitions, and other efforts, is important for public health. Further, as COVID-19 cases are surging throughout Virginia, local health departments may need additional time to review COVID-19 data due to limited staff capacity. Because of these steps, it is important to note that all data are considered preliminary and subject to change.”

These deaths, although collected by VDH as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, could’ve happened weeks or even months ago.

We always know very little about cases, except all data are tracked by residence. And we can deduce some information.

For instance, shifts in data tell us these three victims were two men and woman, two of them Black and one of them white. There were two between the ages of 70 and 79 and one in the 60-69 bracket.

This makes 11 deaths this month and pushes to 352 the number who have died across Henry, Patrick and Franklin counties and the city of Martinsville.

Franklin County now has lost 87 residents, and Martinsville has lost 84. Henry County’s death toll adjusted to 134.

The district reported 63 new cases this morning. Henry County had nearly half (31) of those, and Franklin County accounted for 22. Patrick County had eight, and Martinsville had two, each for the second day in a row.

The 7-day average fell to 51, or 36.8 per 100,000 residents.

And although there were two new hospitalizations in Franklin County, there was a reduction in Henry County, for a net of one.

The Franklin County School Board on Tuesday rescinded its policy and required masks to be worn indoors. The district has at least one outbreak — at Benjamin Franklin Middle School — and dozens of other cases.

As of Wednesday morning, VDH reported 2,175 cases in the district among those between the ages of birth and 19 — up by 14 from Tuesday — with 1,673 of them in the 10-19 bracket, an increase of nine.

Hospitalizations remained at 14 (with 8 in the 10-19 bracket). Data by age groups aren’t broken down by locality.

Statewide there were 4,066 new cases reported this morning, but the 7-day average fell to 3,630, or 42.6 per 100K.

Since the pandemic began, the West Piedmont Health District has seen 14,362 cases, 945 hospitalizations, and 352 deaths. They break down like this:

  • HENRY COUNTY: 5,622 cases, 408 hospitalizations, 134 deaths.
  • MARTINSVILLE: 1,831 cases, 182 hospitalizations, 84 deaths.
  • PATRICK COUNTY: 1,767 cases, 128 hospitalizations, 47 deaths.
  • FRANKLIN COUNTY: 5,142 cases, 227 hospitalizations, 87 deaths.

Statewide there have been 818,804 cases, 12,170 deaths — up by 52 from Tuesday — and 35,161 hospitalizations — up by 112 from Tuesday.

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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