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Centra Health sees increase in COVID-19 cases, experts say delta variant is ‘around’

There were 275 new cases of the virus in the Commonwealth Monday

COVID-19 cases in Virginia trending upward
COVID-19 cases in Virginia trending upward

LYNCHBURG, Va. – All 50 states are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, especially the delta variant and especially in unvaccinated populations.

There were 275 new cases of the virus in the Commonwealth Monday, and new cases have been rising in Virginia for about a month.

Dr. Christopher Lewis, chief clinical officer for Centra Health, says they’re seeing a steady increase. In mid-June, there were two days where Centra had no COVID-related hospitalizations. But that number increased as recently as this weekend.

“We have an 18-bed unit that we are now dedicating just for COVID. It’s our variable acuity unit. So, 13 patients are all COVID positive. Six of those are ICU level, so critically ill. Four of them are ventilated,” said Dr. Lewis.

Dr. Lindsey Lockewood, population health manager for the Central Virginia Health District, says about half of the adult population in Central Virginia is vaccinated. Despite the rise in new cases, the region is seeing an improvement compared to recent months.

“We’re holding steady. Our seven-day case averages are still in the single digits. Over the last three weeks, thankfully, there has only been one death due to COVID,” said Dr. Lockewood.

But the delta variant is a concern.

“Right now we haven’t seen delta in our area, but it’s only a matter of time. The virus doesn’t stop at district borders. We will eventually have delta in our area,” said Dr. Lockewood.

“And that has concern because we have seen the data, so far, on the delta variant that it more infectious and contagious and will move around quicker,” said Dr. Lewis.

Dr. Noelle Bissell, director of the New River Health District, says while cases are low, they too are keeping an eye on positive results.

“The delta variant is around. That’s not a surprise. It wasn’t a matter of if but when. Certainly, if people had close gatherings over Fourth of July, you have to think about that,” said Dr. Bissell.

Health leaders say 99% of COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths are from patients who are unvaccinated.

While it is possible to get covid if you’re vaccinated, they say it is harder to contract the disease. And if you do, the case is not as severe.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.