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Local health official: Cases have increased since Phase Two of reopening plan

Cases continuing to increase in Roanoke-Alleghany Health District

Local health official urges public to take virus seriously after increase in cases
Local health official urges public to take virus seriously after increase in cases

ROANOKE, Va. – One local health official is urging people to continue to take the coronavirus seriously.

Roanoke-Alleghany Health District Director, Dr. Molly O’Dell, said in her weekly coronavirus conference call that cases have increased since Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan began.

As of Tuesday, five outbreaks of the virus in the health district were at restaurants.

While many people may feel like the virus is over, O’Dell said it’s nowhere near over.

“As businesses open, they need to become comfortable with rigorous diligence and adherence to basic practices of screening and then social distancing and appropriate face covering use,” said O’Dell.

She said the health department has talked to some restaurants about their seating arrangements, making sure people are spread out, and all restaurants have complied.

Also during the conference call, O’Dell said by Friday there are expected to be four bilingual contact tracers helping the health district combat the coronavirus in Hispanic communities.

As of Tuesday, there were two.

O’Dell said there continues to be a large number of coronavirus cases in local Hispanic communities even though the Hispanic population is small.

“It is presenting a challenge to do disease investigation, case investigation and contact tracing with so few bilingual contact tracers,” O’Dell explained.

The Virginia Department of Health also continues to use cultural-specific messaging to try to educate Hispanic communities across the state about the virus.