BRHD shares quarantine recommendations, COVID-19 update during virtual event
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With the backdrop of a raging virus, the Blue Ridge Health District hosted a virtual town hall Monday, Jan. 10, to share updates on the state of COVID-19 in its communities.
BRHD is seeing unprecedented levels of COVID-19 right now. Prior to Christmas 2021, the health district never had a day with more than 245 cases reported. In the nearly two-and-a-half weeks since December 25,, it’s happened seven times.
That’s not the only sign of trouble.
The sight at Charlottesville’s Church of the Incarnation Monday evening was a packed parking lot and a line that extended well beyond it. It was full of COVID-19 test hopefuls, as healthcare workers stood in near-freezing temperatures trying to stay warm while administering tests during a surge.
“We are really experiencing the worst in terms of transmission we’ve experienced so far,” BRHD COVID-19 Incidence Commander Ryan McKay said.
BRHD’s turnaround time for testing results, once nearing 24 hours, is now between 48-72 hours due to the high demand.
During a Zoom town hall, health officials said the impact doesn’t stop with testing: Hospital staff and resources are stressed and strained.
“The stress and strain on hospital personnel and staff and also resources has gone up in lockstep,” UVA Health Surgeon Dr. Michael D. Williams said. “It’s really all of us who are feeling the negative impact of lack or decreased access of the care that we need in a timely fashion.”
As of Monday morning, UVA Health had 89 COVID-19 patients, with 25 in the Intensive Care Unit.
“I have this habit of whenever I have a new patient with COVID, I always ask are they vaccinated or are they unvaccinated,” Dr. Taison Bell, the director of UVA Health’s ICU, said. “And I’m starting to get this look of ‘Why are you even asking this question still?’”
The good news, Dr. Bell says, is vaccines are working at keeping people out of the hospital. He says about 70% of those being treated at UVA are unvaccinated, despite unvaccinated people making up roughly 35% of the BRHD community.
As far as vaccinated people making their way inside the hospital, some may not be boosted, and some of them have other significant health challenges like cancer or kidney failure, Dr. Bell said.
“It’s good news that for the vast majority of people it’s protective from going into the hospital, but it does underscore that for those high-risk people in our community, they really depend on all of us to do our job to do what we can to prevent the spread,” Dr. Bell said.
As for quarantine guidance, BRHD is recommending schools stick with what they’ve been doing - 10 days in quarantine if you test positive, regardless of vaccination status. If you’re not fully vaccinated and exposed, you should also quarantine for 10 days.
“Just given the amount of transition that occurring, the amount of burden and strain that that’s going to put on our school systems, right now is just not the right time to make that decision,” McKay said.
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