Galax, Carroll County see spike in coronavirus cases

These localities have seen a combined 31% increase in cases since last Monday

Downtown Galax (WSLS 10)

CARROLL COUNTY, Va. – As everyday life slowly returns to normal, confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Combined, Galax and Carroll County, reported 48 new cases over the weekend.

As of Monday, there have been 205 COVID-19 cases among Galax residents and 173 in Carroll County.

What makes those numbers stand out is that the populations of Roanoke City and Roanoke County are reporting 384 cases combined, just six more than Galax and Carroll County.

Taking into account population size, the two Roanoke localities are more than five times larger than the other two, but have just six more COVID-19 cases.

LocalityPopulation (July 2019 estimate)Coronavirus Cases (As of June 15)
Roanoke City99,143250
Carroll County29,791173
Roanoke County94,186134

As of Monday, Galax has the second highest coronavirus rate in the state.

Galax has about 3,192 cases per 100,000 residents, just behind Richmond County’s 3,231.

“It started off with a few large families that had social gatherings and worked in a lot of businesses," explained Dr. Karen Shelton. "So, we had many different industries and businesses effected there and it kind of just spread into the community from there. “

Shelton, the director of the Virginia Department of Health’s Mount Rogers Health District, said more testing may also be leading to a spike in confirmed cases.

When testing first began in the area, Shelton said the region was slow to see cases.

“We have a disproportionate number that are in our nursing homes," stated Galax City Manager Keith Barker. “I don’t think there is a need to take risk.”

Barker said the virus hit the denser communities like trailer parks, apartments and nursing homes hard.

Schools in both areas are looking ahead to the fall semester.

Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Burnette and Galax City Public Schools Superintendent Susan Tillery are both balancing whether or not students should return.

As it stands now, e-learning will be an option for students. The challenge for both school systems has been connectivity in rural areas. Both are working on unique ways to solve this problem ahead of the school year.

Burnette said if students return in the fall, temperatures will be taken, they will go through a screening and more sanitizer stations will be present.

“Hopefully, by that time, we will be beyond our peak and we’ll start to see a decrease in the cases. That’s yet to be seen," stated Burnette. "We stay in touch with our health department and follow their guidance.”

Teams in Galax are meeting to develop a plan. Several committees will come together in Carroll County on Thursday to look at their options.

“By doing the things that will help stop or slow the spread of disease, we will also help protect those who are elderly and medically vulnerable," said Shelton.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.