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Page County has third-highest COVID positivity rate in state

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 7:14 PM EST
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PAGE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the Shenandoah Valley. Page County currently has the third-highest COVID positivity rate in the state with 26.4% of those being tested for the virus testing positive.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there were 17 new cases reported on Tuesday.

Local health officials say while the positivity rate is concerning, part of the reason the number is so much higher than surrounding counties is that Page County has fewer COVID tests available. Primarily only those who have symptoms or have been in close contact with a positive case are getting tested.

More concerning to health officials in the area is the overall positivity rate in Lord Fairfax and Central Shenandoah Health Districts.

“Both Lord Fairfax and Central Shenandoah have overall positivity rates around 15% and that’s about five points higher than some of the adjacent districts across the Blue Ridge,” Dr. Colin Greene, director of the Lord Fairfax Health District, said.

Another COVID issue facing Page County is the lack of available COVID testing as the demand increases with the emergence of the Omicron variant across the U.S.

“Even at larger pharmacies and private practices it’s hard to get in and if you have fewer of those places to start with which is the case of any rural county that makes it even more challenging,” Greene said.

Just under 46% of Page County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is the lowest of the localities in the Shenandoah Valley and tenth lowest across the state.

“The last three months of deaths from COVID, it very closely tracks with the percentage of completely unvaccinated people in a county or a city or even a health district. I hope that will change a few hearts,” Greene said.

Despite the continued rise in cases, Dr. Greene doesn’t believe any mask mandates will be in Page County’s future.

“Mask mandates are extremely unpopular and for cloth masking to be effective it has to be universal. The cloth mask really only stops the germs coming out from the person wearing it, so they’re effective in places like school classrooms where all the students wear them or in health care facilities,” Greene said. “If everybody is wearing them, they really do greatly reduce the spread but just to try to get people in the community to wear masks is gonna be a little bit more difficult.”

One way the Lord Fairfax Health District plans to try to address the rise in COVID cases and continued vaccine hesitancy is by creating new methods to reach out to people in rural communities.

“If you look at a lot of the materials that are put out encouraging people to get the vaccine or do other things that are helpful for their health, the people in them often kind of look like city people or they look like suburban people and we’re working on methods that will actually reach out to rural folks in a way that might be more meaningful to them,” Greene said.

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