Richmond health officials warn COVID-19 cases rising

Richmond health officials warn COVID-19 cases rising
Mayor Stoney gives a previous update on COVID-19 in Richmond (FILE) (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Heath District officials say the city’s not far off from its COVID-19 case peak earlier this year. Currently, the city is averaging about 40 new cases per day, and that number has been on a steady climb for more than 40 days.

“These numbers are a wake-up call for all of us. This virus is real,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

Stoney, who is in isolation after a potential exposure from an outbreak at the city’s voter registrar office, held a COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon

At least 11 positive cases are tied to that cluster of mainly office and election campaign staff. The health department says non-socially distanced meetings and a lack of hand sanitizer were contributing factors in the days after the election.

“There’s just nothing to indicate that this trend is going to be reversed anytime soon,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Richmond - Henrico Health Districts Director.

Most surprising, Avula’s assessment of what looks different this time around with the COVID-19 spike. He says the data now show the virus affecting those ages 20 to 29. That group makes up more than 37% of cases.

“Because we’ve seen so many more cases shift towards this 20-29 and 30-39 age group, they’re getting milder disease and aren’t requiring hospitalizations,” said Dr. Avula.

That’s good news for now, but the health experts warn there will be a ripple effect as those younger folks, who don’t know they have the virus, spread it to older folks at holiday gatherings this year.

“We must think of others. That’s our responsibility. There’s no other option. Each of us have to take responsibility for our individual actions and also the consequences that come with those actions,” said Stoney.

The mayor says he’s doing well and will be tested for COVID-19 Friday. That test was delayed, he said, at the advice of doctors, since it could take 14 days to show any symptoms.

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