Doctors discuss local impacts with Page Co. community

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:37 PM EST
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PAGE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Health care leaders in the Page County region spoke in a virtual panel about how COVID-19 has impacted rural communities.

Some of those impacts included trends we saw nationwide throughout the pandemic, like limited Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), COVID-19 tests, and now, COVID-19 vaccines.

Locally because of spikes in coronavirus cases, health care resources and capacity at hospitals have been a concern.

Dr. David Switzer, with Page Memorial Hospital, said the curve is finally moving in the right direction, but it took unfortunate circumstances to get there, and people in the community still need to be vigilant in their mitigation efforts.

“With the surge that we saw over the holidays and beyond, I think there are more people who do now internalize and understand the significance of this illness because it has touched them directly,” Dr. Switzer said. “I think that gives me, sadly, a little bit of optimism moving forward for what their behavior might be now.”

Dr. Switzer pointed out that many spikes occurred after holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’, which means many of us think we are safe around loved ones and do not take the proper precautions, like social distancing and wearing masks, when it’s those times that community spread can more often occur.

“COVID doesn’t distinguish whether the person next to you is familiar or unfamiliar,” he said. “Their exposures are very much your exposures and we need to keep that at top of mind as we move forward and interact with colleagues, friends, and family.”

Dr. Colin Greene, the Director of the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD), joined in the discussion and explained how COVID-19 has affected older adults, who are most at risk.

Of the 288 COVID-19-related deaths in the LFHD, over 99 percent were in people over 50 years old. 173 COVID-19-related deaths were in people over 80 years old.

“This disease, while it can have unpleasant side effects or lasting after-effects in some patients that we don’t know the full extent to yet, it does not kill young people except in very, very rare situations,” Dr. Greene said. “If there is an emphasis on vaccinating the elderly, this is why. This is where your lives are saved.”

Because of this, Dr. Greene explained the importance of getting students back to school, not only for educational purposes but also for students’ mental and social health.

On Tuesday night, Dr. Greene and Dr. Switzer gave a shoutout to amazing work by health care workers and volunteers throughout the county and health district for being a huge asset in vaccinating the community.

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