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Travel, social gatherings cause spike in COVID-19 in West Piedmont Health District

Travel, social gatherings cause spike in COVID-19 in West Piedmont Health District

From the Martinsville-region COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from state, nation and world: June 30 series
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Social gatherings are generating a spike in cases of COVID-19 that has West Piedmont Health Department officials concerned about a spread of the virus.

Nancy Bell, spokesperson for the district, cited at least one trip to the beach and social gatherings as elements that led to 35 new cases on Monday, continuing a surge that has produced 73 new cases since Thursday.

There had been 24 cases on Saturday and Sunday and 14 on Friday during a time when Virginia has seen statewide increases of a few hundred a day, a much slower trend than what is happening around the nation. This also emerges after a strong spike in cases in the district since May 1 had abated somewhat.

Bell said in an email Monday that “a significant number of these cases are associated with recent domestic travel to the beach in North Carolina and other social gatherings.”

In a follow-up email Bell said that “the majority of recent cases throughout the WPHD are travel-acquired, although I do not currently have exact numbers per locality.

“Unfortunately, the consequences of spreading the virus to family and friends back home could be devastating. We are working with infected individuals and hope they will isolate for 14 days or 72 hours after symptoms abate, as we are recommending, to keep those around them safe.”

This news also follows an outbreak that has placed the population of the Martinsville Prison Farm in quarantine and another positive test that had required the closing of the Patrick County Circuit Court Clerk’s office since Wednesday. That office reopened on Monday.

Many of the new cases recently have been young people, and Monday’s list appears to continue that trend.

Franklin County had 18 of the 35 cases and ranged in ages from 15-18 to 20s, 30s and 50s.

Henry County had 10 new cases, six males and four females ranging from teens to 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s and 80s.

Martinsville’s three cases (two males, one female) were in their 20s and 60s, and Patrick County had four (three females, one male) in their 40s, 60s and 70s.

Bell does not announce hospitalizations and did not reveal any new deaths.

The trend

Monday’s report followed this list of 24 cases announced Sunday:

  • Henry County: seven total, two males, including one 2 to 6, and another in his 50s, and five females, including one teen, one in her 20s, two in their 30s and one in her 40s.
  • Martinsville: four total, one in her one each in their 20s, 30s and 50s and a male in his 60s.
  • Patrick County: one, a male in his 30s.
  • Franklin County: 12 total, eight males and four females. Three of them were in their teens and one in his 20s.

The Virginia Department of Health on Monday morning reported there are 62,189 cases (up only 453 from Sunday), there and have been 1,740 deaths (up eight since Sunday). Some 6,164 people have been hospitalized (an increase of 18).

Henry County’s number of positive cases increased to 250, with 22 hospitalized and four deaths. Martinsville has 74 cases, nine hospitalized and one death. Patrick County has 42 cases, and two have been hospitalized, and two died. Franklin County’s total is at 72, with five hospitalized and one death.

Monday’s report would not be reflected in those totals.

Patrick County

office reopens

On Monday morning Patrick County Circuit Court Clerk Sherri Hazlewood announced her office was reopening after having been closed when an employee tested positive last week. Another employee was symptomatic and test results are pending.

The office was closed mid-morning on Wednesday, immediately after the potential exposure was revealed, and Judge Marcus A. Brinks ordered closure through the week, a release said.

The Patrick County Department of Health has deemed the office to be a critical governmental function, and the reopening will adhere to requirements established by the state.

The release specified that anyone who wants to visit the office will be required to wear a face covering, have a temperature check, sanitize of hands and complete a health assessment form. Social distancing will be practiced.

No more than five members of the public will be admitted to the office at one time.

Court will continue to remain in session as scheduled with no admittance permitted beyond court personnel, attorneys, their clients and subpoenaed witnesses subject to the same requirements.

“We appreciate your patience and understanding as we make diligent and determined efforts to continue to serve you to the best of our ability while being temporarily short-staffed and placing a focused emphasis on both public and employee safety,” Hazlewood said in the release. “Every attempt is being made to reschedule estate and probate matters, and we urge you to contact the office if you have a scheduled appointment in the coming two weeks and have not already been contacted.”

Steven Doyle is Local Editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801 ext. 245. Follow @StevenLDoyle.

Steven Doyle is Local Editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801 ext. 245. Follow @StevenLDoyle.

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