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Record day for deaths from COVID-19 in Henry County, Martinsville and health district
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Record day for deaths from COVID-19 in Henry County, Martinsville and health district

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Dr. Prince Djan, a hospitalist at Sovah Health, provides an update on COVID-19.

COVID-19 has equaled its deadliest day in the West Piedmont Health District.

There were 10 deaths revealed on Thursday, matching the record set on Sept. 15. The next highest total is seven, from August.

There also were 109 new cases, the second consecutive day of a spike in the district, and four new hospitalizations as the virus re-emerged from some quieter days earlier this week.

West Piedmont death data

Tracking deaths in the West Piedmont Health District.

The Virginia Department of Health included the deaths – five in Henry County, four in Martinsville and one in Franklin County – in its report Thursday morning.

But those deaths could’ve occurred any time in the past few weeks, because VDH typically waits for death certificates to confirm cause of death.

But that means that 73 residents of Henry County, 36 from Martinsville and 33 from Franklin County have succumbed to the novel coronavirus, and there have been 170 when Patrick County is included.

We also don’t have much information about these victims, although VDH tracks all statistics by a person’s residence.

We know that these 10 included six women and four men, and that seven were white and three were Black. Six of them were at least 80 years old, one was 70-79, two 60-69 and one 50-59.

West piedmont positive rates

How testing has risen and fallen.

The patterns demographically remain pretty consistent because 129 of the 170 victims have been at least 70, 119 of them have been white, and 84 of them have been men (and 82 women, with four not specified).

Kelly Fitzgerald, spokesperson for Sovah-Martinsville, said that there were limits on the information she could share because of patient confidentiality rules.

“We can share that the acuity of patients we have been diagnosing and treating with COVID-19 in recent weeks has been more severe,” she said in an email. “According to our Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan, this local trend is consistent with other areas of the country and state.”

Nancy Bell, spokesperson for the health district, said Thursday, after consulting with epidemiology staff, that there were a couple of reasons for the surge.

“Three of the deaths are the result of vital record updates, which is part of the ongoing review of vital records death certificate data by the VDH central offices,” Bell wrote in an email late Thursday.

“Seven of the cases are associated with three recently identified outbreaks in long-term care facilities during the months of December and January.”

Latest COVID-19 data

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Field 5 Field 6 Field 7
Cases Hospitalizations Deaths Positivity rate Vaccine doses Fully vaccinated
Henry County 3,684 246 73 2,690 424
Martinsville 1,345 115 36 43 4
Patrick County 1035 76 28 594 102
Franklin County 3,271 104 33 3,294 294
West Piedmont total 9,335 541 170 17.80% 6,621 824
Danville 3,537 194 64 3,784 574
Pittsylvania County 4,039 145 46 17.50% 2491 268
Virginia 493,674 21,113 6,308 12.20% 641,873 88,410

The most recent such outbreak is at the Mulberry Creek Nursing & Rehab, where 119 associated cases have been cited among residents and staff. The VDH database that tracks outbreaks in such facilities noted there had been deaths, but that count has been undisclosed because the VDH does not post a number until the total surpassed two or three because of concerns for privacy.

Martinsville Health & Rehab has 19 cases and an undisclosed few deaths, too. There were two other outbreaks in the district in December that were closed earlier this month.

The 109 new cases made 234 in the past two days in the district, and there were four new hospitalizations.

The 109 cases push the 7-day average to 80 cases, and the 14-day average per 100,000 population climbed to 882.9.

Henry County had 52 cases, and Franklin County had 30 (and a hospitalization). Patrick County had 14 and Martinsville 13 (with three hospitalizations).

That’s now 9,335 cases, 541 hospitalizations and the 170 death since the pandemic began.

Positivity in the district also has crept up. There have been about 600 new tests conducted since Tuesday, and the positive rate is 17.8% on 54,299 tests, up from 16.6% on Tuesday.

In more than 5.1 million tests statewide, the rate is 12.2%.

By comparison, the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District – which has had 7,566 cases and 110 deaths, has a 17.5% positivity rate.

Latest COVID-19 data

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Field 5 Field 6 Field 7

Cases Hospitalizations Deaths Positivity rate Vaccine doses Fully vaccinated

Henry County 3,684 246 73 2,690 424

Martinsville 1,345 115 36 43 4

Patrick County 1035 76 28 594 102

Franklin County 3,271 104 33 3,294 294

West Piedmont total 9,335 541 170 17.80% 6,621 824

Danville 3,537 194 64 3,784 574

Pittsylvania County 4,039 145 46 17.50% 2491 268

Virginia 493,674 21,113 6,308 12.20% 641,873 88,410

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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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