COVID-19

Far Southwest Virginia added nearly 30 new COVID-19 cases, according to Tuesday’s state health data, while Lee County Schools officials reported a new case at Thomas Walker High School.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) reported that the state had 1,261 new cases and eight deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 184,679 cases and 3,666 deaths.

The LENOWISCO Health District added 28 cases for totals of 1,855 and 27 deaths during the pandemic. Wise County added 12 cases for 734 and 10 deaths. Scott County had 10 cases for 474 and seven deaths.

Lee County saw three cases for 4592 and 10 deaths, while Norton also added three cases for 52 and no deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Tuesday’s VDH report was 2,896,576 of 8.63 million residents, or 33.56%. For nasal swab testing only, 2,685,669 people have been tested to date, or 31.12%. In the LENOWISCO district, 20,111 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 23.26%.

Pandemic-wide testing rates by locality were:

• Lee County, 6,289 of 23,423, or 26.85%.

• Norton, 1,980 of 3,981, or 49.74%.

• Wise County, 7,422 of 37,383, or 19.85%.

• Scott County, 4,370 of 21,566, or 20.26%.

Lee County Schools Superintendent Brian Austin, in a letter to parents on Tuesday, said that a student or staff case had been reported at Thomas Walker High School. That person was last on campus Oct. 29.

Red Onion State Prison remained at 20 inmate cases and one active staff/contractor case, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections COVID-19 webpage (https://vadoc.virginia.gov/news-press-releases/2020/covid-19-updates/).

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at no inmate cases and three active staff/contractor cases.

Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 16 inmate cases and five active staff cases on Tuesday.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Tuesday’s report rose from 17.9% to 18.6%. The statewide positivity rate dropped from 5.8 to 5.7%.

According to Tuesday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/key-measures/pandemic-metrics/region-metrics/), cases in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — were ranked as rising after a 43-day increase in cases.

The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results remained increasing based on a 23-day increase in that measure.

All four school systems in the LENOWISCO district — Wise, Lee and Scott counties and Norton — were ranked as highest-risk based on the 14-day case incidence rate in the district.

All three county school divisions were ranked highest-risk for percent change in seven-day case incidences while the Norton system was ranked lowest-risk.

Where to be tested

Do you think you may have COVID-19? Local health departments provide free testing.

The LENOWISCO Health Department, which covers Norton and Lee, Wise and Scott counties, posts regular updates on testing sites across the district and offers free COVID-19 tests at its county offices.

Those seeking a test must call in advance for an appointment. Contact numbers for the county offices are:

• Lee County (Jonesville) — (276) 346-2011.

• Scott County (Gate City) — (276) 386-1312.

• Wise County and Norton (Wise) — (276) 328-8000.

Additional testing and COVID-19 precaution information can be found at the LENOWISCO Health District’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Lenowisco

The Health Wagon will partner with the Virginia Department of Health to offer 17 sessions of free drive-thru testing at Food City in St. Paul through Dec. 31.

Call (276) 328-8850 to schedule an appointment.

In Southwest Virginia, online resources are available to help evaluate whether residents might be infected and where to get a COVID-19 test.

The Virginia Department of Health’s COVIDCHECK (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/) can walk users through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.