COVID-19 cases and demand for testing up in the Valley

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 10:51 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Hospitals around the Shenandoah Valley are reporting more COVID-19 cases just days after the holiday weekend.

The demand for testing is up too. The Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) usually hosts two testing clinics each week in Harrisonburg at Hillandale Park. Due to increased demand, it added a third clinic this week, giving over 500 COVID-19 tests since Monday.

“[That] is a significant increase from what we’ve seen over the last few weeks. The demand is there,” Jordi Shelton with the CSHD, said. “Folks are getting tested whether that be because they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or they have symptoms. It’s difficult to say, but the demand is there, so we’re working hard to meet that need.”

Shelton said the CSHD will assess the need for additional testing and could add more opportunities, which could be helpful after the winter holidays. She said things like family gatherings and traveling may be contributing to the rise in cases, but it is hard to know exactly.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into seeing those cases rise,” Shelton said. “It could also be due to the Omicron variant emerging in the commonwealth and within our health regions, so we’ll see over the next couple of weeks how the post-holiday cases play out.”

Shelton said there are a few dozen cases of the Omicron variant in Virginia, but it could be more because not every COVID-19 test checks for variants.

This week hospitals around the Valley issued updates on how their staff is handling COVD-19.

Over the past four days, Augusta Health reports that its positivity rate has risen to 35%, and is expected to remain high. As of Dec. 30, 29 patients are being treated for COVID-19. Two COVID-19 deaths have occurred since Monday, Dec. 27.

In the 24 hours preceding 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30, 171 new positive cases of COVID were diagnosed at Augusta Health testing sites, which set an unfortunate new record for daily positive tests.

Sentara RMH calls on all eligible residents to take all precautionary measures available against COVID-19 to stop spread in the community, noting that emergency departments throughout the community are “experiencing longer wait times than normal.”

Valley Health issued a press release asking the community to curtain New Years plans to soften the holiday’s impacts on its health care staff and resources.

“They have shown remarkable resiliency, but like all of us, they’re growing tired. We are asking the community to renew their vigilance, pull together and help stop the spread of this virus,” Valley Health CEO and President Mark Nantz said.

As of Dec. 29, Valley Health reports its six hospitals are treating 145 patients for COVID-19, about 85% of whom are unvaccinated.

For more information about how to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, visit or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA.

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