COVID-19

By MIKE STILL

mstill@timesnews.net

Far Southwest Virginia saw almost 50 new COVID-19 cases and one more death, according to Saturday’s state data report.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) reported that the commonwealth had 1,537 new cases and 14 additional deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 200,799 cases and 3,799 deaths.

The LENOWISCO Health District accounted for 49 cases and one death for totals of 2,385 and 35 deaths during the pandemic. Scott County had 18 cases for totals of 607 and 10 deaths. Lee County tallied 17 cases for 723 and 11 deaths.

Wise County added 13 cases and a death for 992 and 14 deaths, while Norton saw one case for 63 cases and no deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Saturday’s VDH report was 3,125,263 of 8.63 million residents, or 36.21%. For nasal swab testing only, 2,887,002 people have been tested to date, or 33.34%. In the LENOWISCO district, 21,502 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 24.87%.

Pandemic-wide testing rates by locality were:

• Lee County, 6,752 of 23,423, or 28.83%

• Norton, 2,063 of 3,981, or 51.82%

• Wise County, 8,024 of 37,383, or 21.46%

• Scott County, 4,663 of 21,566, or 21.62%

Red Onion State Prison remained at 20 inmate cases and no active staff/contractor cases, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at no inmate cases and two active staff/contractor cases. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 16 inmate cases and one active staff case.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Saturday’s report rose from 13.4% to 14.1%. The statewide positivity rate rose from 6.5% to 6.8%

According to Saturday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard, cases in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — were ranked as rising after a 54-day increase in cases. The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results remained increasing based on a 34-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. Wise County Schools were ranked highest-risk for percent change in seven-day case incidences. Norton City and Scott County schools were ranked lowest-risk, and Lee County Schools ranked lower-risk.

Where to be tested

Do you think you might 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: 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 for 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 a user through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.