Concerns grow over potential COVID-19 case surge in central Virginia

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Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 3:33 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Central Virginia has seen a slight increase in COVID-19 cases. Doctor Taison Bell, an infectious disease expert with UVA Health, calls this the start of a new surge heading into the winter.

“I do expect cases will go up, mirroring the pattern of cases that we’ve seen across the commonwealth in general and the nation,” Dr. Bell said. “I don’t expect any difference here.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is forecasting between 433,000 and 969,000 new cases to be reported in the week ending December 4.

Pair that with a new variant of concern: Omicron.

However, Dr. Bell says high rates of vaccinations could prevent the impacts of a winter surge.

“My hope is that cases may go up, but people have more protection in areas where there’s high vaccinations so we won’t see a concurrent bump in hospitalizations and deaths. That’s certainly my hope,” Bell said.

As of November 25, 63.7% of the Blue Ridge Health District is fully vaccinated. More than 19% has received a booster shot or third dose.

Dr. Bell is encouraging vaccinations, whether they be a first dose or booster, but says vaccination is not the only way to stay protected as case numbers climb.

“If you’re in the midst of a surge, you can’t vaccinate yourself out of that because by the time that protection takes hold, it’s been 10 days or two weeks, and by that point cases will really dramatically go up,” he said. “So wearing masks, limiting your time indoors unless you have to be indoors, social distancing, those are really how you cut down on the transmission of the virus.”

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