New River Valley health leaders take stock one year into COVID-19 pandemic

Virtual state of COVID-19 forum covered vaccines, business and mental health

New River Valley leaders get update after one year of pandemic
New River Valley leaders get update after one year of pandemic

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – On Thursday night, leaders in the New River Valley hosted a virtual forum for the state of COVID-19 in the region.

They reflected on the past year, the highs and the lows, and where the community goes from here.

Health leaders said they’ve learned a lot through this experience, chiefly keeping the big picture in mind when it comes to case numbers.

“If you are looking at the VDH website on a daily basis, please stop,” New River Valley Health District Epidemiologist Jason Deese said. “If you can’t control yourself and you have to go to the VDH website daily, look at the yellow trend line, the yellow trend line gives a better indication of how things are really going.”

Businesses across the region took a hard hit with the lockdowns. The business continuity team helped more than 20,000 employees and provided assistance keep people afloat.

“The services we’re offering early on were assistance with that paying for services like having your business cleaned, having a business cleaned can be a really costly thing after a COVID-19 impact,” NRV Business Continuity Team Public Health Director Ashley Brigg said.

The virus and its effects have taken a toll on mental health. A new regional crisis center has helped with the demand to prevent overload and possible exposures.

“And the goal right now is we can divert a lot of individuals away from the emergency rooms at our local hospitals to that center to be pre-screened,” New River Community Services Executive Director James Pritchett said.

But in the end, vaccines reign most important as the community continues to recover. Vaccine distribution continues to grow but the team said there’s still work to do.

“Our supply is not nearly as great as our demand, we do have to continue to prioritize according to the CDC and VDH guidance,” New River Valley Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell said.

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