ROANOKE, Va – As millions of Americans travel for the holidays, hospitals are preparing for another potential surge of COVID-19 patients. As vaccination efforts continue, relief could be on the horizon.
Almost 100 people are in the hospital being treated for COVID-19 across the Roanoke and Alleghany Valleys.
Some experts say what happens in the next couple of weeks could have a huge impact on health care going into 2021.
“We need to really make sure that we get this vaccine into arms as quickly as safely and effectively as we can,” said Doctor Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.
Although more than 40,000 Virginians have gotten the first dose of the vaccine, the commonwealth is still working its way through the first distribution group which includes hospital staff and EMS workers.
Some long-term care facilities in Virginia have started getting shipments of the vaccine distributed by pharmacies like CVS and tell 10 News they will start distributing it this weekend.
“It’s going to be a week to week game time allotment and that’s one of the challenges is planning for something that we don’t always know in advance what the amount we’re going to get if we schedule,” said Morrow.
But hospitalizations in the region continue to rise. While most Virginia hospitals have a manageable burden right now, some health experts believe a high amount of travel during the holidays could change that.
“That is going to obviously increase the risk of transmission, and so we probably will see a surge again,” said Bryan Lewis with University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute.
Lewis said a lack of data over the holidays makes it difficult to predict how many new COVID-19 cases there could be.
“There’s nothing that can beat the fact that a doctor’s office is closed, the testing center is closed for a number of days, and so we anticipate that we’re going to see a backlog,” Lewis said.
Some local health experts also believe cases in our region are being under-reported. Leaders are once again urging the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.