COVID-19 on decline, but surges possible

Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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While COVID-19 cases are going down across the Western Tidewater region, the Delta variant of the virus is still prevalent enough in the unvaccinated to allow for additional surges.

Statewide, the 7-day positivity rate has fallen to 7.6% as of Oct. 13 from a peak of 11% in early September, as 61.5% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. Among those 18 and up, 73.2% are fully vaccinated. More than 240,000 have been vaccinated with a third-dose booster.

In the Western Tidewater Health District — made up of Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County — the 7-day positivity is 10.8% as of Oct. 13, which is at its lowest level since the end of July after reaching a peak of 15.3% Sept. 13.

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In Suffolk, the positivity rate was 9.5% as of Oct. 9, when the Virginia Department of Health last reported locality-specific data. Like the region’s rate, it is the lowest since the end of July. The 7-day average of cases per 100,000 people in Suffolk has been over 200 since that point, and on Oct. 9 was at 222.6, the lowest among those in the Western Tidewater Health District and in Surry County, part of the Crater Health District, where the 7-day positivity rate is 10.2%.

Over the past seven days through Oct. 13, the 7-day average number of daily new cases reported in Suffolk is 26, 13 in Isle of Wight, five in Southampton, four in Franklin and three in Surry. No one was hospitalized for COVID-19 in Isle of Wight, Franklin, Southampton or Surry in the past week, while an average of one person per day was hospitalized in Suffolk.

In the past week, four people have died of COVID-19 across the five localities — one each in Suffolk, Southampton, Surry and Isle of Wight.

Southampton trails in vaccination rates among the region’s localities, with just 44.8% of its population fully vaccinated. Nearly 53% are fully vaccinated in Surry, and 54.2% are fully vaccinated in Isle of Wight. In Franklin, 52.2% are fully vaccinated, while in Suffolk, it’s 49.4%. Anywhere between about 1% and 3% of residents in the region have received a third-dose booster.

The University of Virginia’s most recent report on estimating COVID-19’s impact in the state notes that case rate growth in the state has started to go down, though growth is taking place in many districts, and case rates remain high as the state “may begin to decline from the peak of the Delta wave.”

Its projections show continued decline, though some districts “have some growth potential” and it says that “a scenario based on last year’s transmission drivers show that significant future case growth remains possible.”