With Virginia’s coronavirus cases nearing a new milestone, health care leaders continue their fight

Virginia will likely surpass 200,000 total coronavirus cases on Saturday

ROANOKE, Va. – COVID-19 has been in Virginia for more than eight months and health leaders are learning more about the virus every day.

“Staff is adapting to meet the need. Physicians are adapting to meet the need," said Dr. Michael Abbott, Carilion Clinic’s senior vice president of hospital operations.

“It takes a lot of work to figure this out and try to make things safe for everybody," said Dr. Chris Lewis, Centra Health’s vice president of medical affairs.

However, the COVID-19 cases in Virginia keep climbing.

As of Friday, Virginia is reporting 199,262 coronavirus cases since March, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

“It has been a slow, gradual increase and we’ve just continued to increase," said Abbott.

“Will we be back to normal this time next year? I don’t know," Lewis said. "I would be somewhat surprised.”

Lewis and Abbott believe Virginia’s health care systems are in a better position to slow the spread of COVID-19 now than in the spring mostly because of the widespread availability of tests and personal protective equipment.

However, Abbott said a major factor is the collaboration between hospitals.

Carilion Clinic, Centra Health, Sovah Health, LewisGale Health and the Salem Veterans Affairs Hospital now exchange COVID-19 hospitalization data and prevention strategies every week.

“It has just been a collaborative spirit that we have never seen before,” Abbott said.

Carilion Clinic reports there are 203 COVID-19 hospitalizations across the aforementioned health care systems with 38 patients in intensive care and 18 on a ventilator.

The health leaders hope people continue to wear masks and keep their distance, especially as the holidays get closer.

“I fear folks getting together and piling into houses and places and gathering closely together,” Lewis said.

However, Abbott and Lewis have faith they will be able to control the spread of COVID-19 eventually.

“Our community truly has the chance to stop this," Abbott said.

“This is us against a virus," Lewis said. "We’re going to win, it’s just going to be a matter of time.”