While far Southwest Virginia is seeing single-digit increases in daily COVID-19 cases recently, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says the larger southwest region has the highest rate of positive COVID-19 test results in the state.

Northam said Tuesday that the southwest region, which extends from Lee to Roanoke counties, has posted a seven-day test positivity rate of 8.1% compared to the statewide rate of 6.8%.

According to the Virginia Department of Health’s daily web report, the LENOWISCO Health District — Lee, Wise and Scott counties and Norton — has a seven-day positivity rate of 10.7%.

Northam said the state and southwest region positivity rates have been declining in recent days, although the southwest rate is still higher than that among health districts in the eastern/Tidewater region. Northam last week had finally removed restrictions on restaurants, bars and public gatherings in the Hampton Roads area that were reinstated after spikes in COVID-19 cases earlier in the summer.

Northam said the southwest region’s rates were of concern because of fewer hospitals and intensive care beds in the region. A recent increase of 229 cases in the region was higher than in Northern Virginia with higher population numbers and density, he added.

Northam said he had no plans to impose tighter restrictions on the region.

According to the Virginia Department of Health’s Tuesday report (, the state saw 943 new cases and 96 deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 135,514 and 2,839 deaths.

The Virginia Department of Health stated on its website that the spike in the number of deaths was due to backlogs in death certificate data reporting.

Far Southwest Virginia saw four new cases and two deaths in the VDH report, for 839 cases and 17 deaths in the LENOWISCO Health District during the pandemic.

Scott County added two cases for 176 cases and four deaths. Lee County saw one case and one death for pandemic totals of 248 and six deaths. Norton also added one case for a total of 33 and no deaths.

Wise County saw no new cases but one death for totals of 382 cases and seven deaths.

Red Onion State Prison’s case total remained at 20 inmate cases but added three new active staff/contractor cases, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections COVID-19 webpage (

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap posted no inmate cases or active staff/contractor case. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn has reported no cases.

The Virginia-wide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in the VDH report was 1,922,966 of 8.63 million state residents, or 22.28%. For nasal swab testing only, 1,785,553 people have been tested to date, or 20.69%.

In the LENOWISCO district, according to Tuesday’s online data, 13,298 of the district’s population of 86,471 have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 15.38%.

Pandemic-wide test rates by locality were:

— Lee County, 4,369 of 23,423, or 18.65%.

— Norton, 1,334 of 3,981, or 35.51%.

— Wise County, 4,943 of 37,383, or 13.22%.

— Scott County, 2,618 of 21,566, or 12.14%.

The drop in Tuesday’s test rate data for Scott County comes from a VDH downward adjustment in total testing for the Weber City ZIP code area from 279 in Monday’s report to 250 in the latest data.