Steady rise in COVID-19 cases forces Bath County summer camp to close early

After a stretch of COVID-19 cases going down, numbers are once again starting to climb, and it's affecting local summer camps.

BATH COUNTY, Va. – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve watched the number of newly reported cases climb to record heights and then steadily decline.

Now, that number is back on the rise. On Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health reported 721 new cases across Virginia.

Within the last week, nearly 200 infections have been reported in the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, according to the director of those districts, Dr. Cynthia Morrow. The Alleghany Health District includes Covington and Salem, as well as Alleghany, Botetourt Craig and Roanoke counties.

Hospitalizations are also increasing. The increase in both numbers is being mostly accredited to spread among those unvaccinated for COVID-19.

“We’ve not seen numbers like this since the end of April,” said Morrow.

While health leaders work to target those still undecided on if they’ll get the vaccine, some people cannot get it.

Right now, only children 12 and older are approved for the Pfizer vaccine as research is ongoing for those younger than 12.

“Summer camps around Virginia have suffered because of this pandemic,” said Camp Bethel Director Barry LeNoir.

The Fincastle summer camp spent months uncertain they would be allowed to open based on state health guidelines, struggled to fill vacant positions and then juggled keeping COVID spread at bay.

Jose Denius, the coordinator for Camp ACCOVAC in Bath County, described the summer as “very, very hectic!”

Over the weekend, Denius made the tough last-minute decision to cancel the camp’s final session after a camper from the previous session tested positive for COVID-19.

“If people were afraid of Jesus coming as they are afraid of the COVID, there would be a different world,” commented Denius.

Organizers for Camp Bethel said they’ve had a successful summer. Thanks to the hard work of staff and campers they’ve been able to stay open and remain open.

Denius said they’ve had one as well, outside of the positive case.

Both organizers said they have learned lessons during this pandemic that will carry over for years to come.

Morrow said vaccination rates have slowed as well in her district, while hospitalization rates have increased – but 98%-99% of those in the hospital are unvaccinated.

She also said that the same trend is seen in other districts across the state.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.