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COVID-19 cases to continue increasing locally

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:06 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Officials with the Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) say vaccine rates are slowly increasing in the Shenandoah Valley.

“It’s a slow but steady increase, but it is still an increase. Every week we’re seeing a couple percentage points increase in our health district, which is excited that folks are taking advantage of these opportunities to go ahead and get vaccinated,” said CSHD Communications Specialist Jordi Shelton.

When vaccines rolled out, many people got their shots right away. Vaccine rates dropped off in the spring, after many people eager to get vaccinated did so.

Around August, vaccine rates increased again, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. Shelton says that’s likely related to the increase in COVID-19 cases that happened around that time.

According to VDH, vaccine rates saw a small boost as COVID-19 cases started to increase. (VDH)
According to VDH, vaccine rates saw a small boost as COVID-19 cases started to increase. (VDH)(VDH)

“The chances of you knowing someone who’s been deeply affected by COVID-19, whether personally or they have a family member someone who’s been hospitalized or passed away from COVID-19, are very high at this point,” Shelton said.

The University of Virginia’s model projection on VDH’s website shows cases will likely peak the week of Oct. 10, but Shelton hopes that peak can be avoided.

VDH projects cases will likely peak for Central Shenandoah around Oct. 10. (VDH)
VDH projects cases will likely peak for Central Shenandoah around Oct. 10. (VDH)(VDH)

“With the season changing, the weather cooling down a little bit, it’s easy to be outside and still be in community with folks and still be social distancing,” Shelton said.

She says the peak doesn’t have to be so high.

“Masking is going to be really important tool. Vaccination is going to be our number one way to get through this,” Shelton said.

Shelton says there are many reasons cases have increased in the last few months.

“The delta variant is much more contagious than other cases of COVID-19. The viral load of someone infected with the delta variant is around 1000 times higher than someone with other strains of COVID-19,” Shelton said.

On top of that, she says many people aren’t taking the precautions they should.

“Folks just maybe gathering indoors and not masking up. We know the guidance from the CDC in areas of substantial to high transmission is to wear a mask indoors even if you’re vaccinated,” Shelton said.

She says vaccination is still a key factor.

“We still have a population of folks that are unvaccinated and can spread the disease easily between each other,” Shelton said.

She says breakthrough cases are possible but uncommon.

“With the number of cases on the rise, there are going to be people who experience breakthrough cases but it is still the vast majority of folks who are infected with covid-19 are unvaccinated,” she said.

VDH reported about 0.5% of people who test positive with COVID-19 are fully vaccinated.

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