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Southwest Virginia health experts blame delta variant on rise in COVID-19 case numbers

New River Health District’s director, Dr. Noelle Bissel says the delta variant is the cause of 80% of COVID cases nationwide

As concerns about the delta variant grow, 10 News spoke to local health officials and why they aren't concerned about hospitalizations.
As concerns about the delta variant grow, 10 News spoke to local health officials and why they aren't concerned about hospitalizations.

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – The COVID-19 delta variant continues to make headlines as it spreads across the country and the Commonwealth.

The New River Health District is only one of four health districts in the Commonwealth which have not seen the COVID-19 delta variant according to Virginia’s Department of Health COVID-19 variant dashboard. New River Health District’s Health Director, Dr. Noelle Bissel says despite the numbers, the variant could already be in the New River Valley.

“I’m pretty confident that delta is all over the state. I mean, it is over 80% of the cases nationwide right now so I’m pretty confident it’s here and that it’s all over. We just have to presume this is becoming the predominant strain now, not unlike the UK variant did several months ago,” she said.

Dr. Bissel says although COVID-19 cases are on the rise, hospitalizations and deaths are not, meaning reinforcing mask mandates and other mitigation efforts are on hold for now.

“I don’t know if there is a threshold but certainly if there is a trend where hospitalizations and deaths significantly increase following surges of the delta variant then we would have to revisit that,” said Dr. Bissel.

For people who are vaccinated and are questioning whether to put on their masks again because of the delta variant, Dr. Bissel says, it’s up to you.

“So I think it’s situational,” she said. “I think we all need to look at our individual risk assessment and look at individual circumstances and decide what is best for us in that situation.”


About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.