PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The beaches are open, concerts are in full swing, and in most cases, you don’t have to wear that fashionable mask in public.
Life this summer in Hampton Roads, for the most part, appears back to normal.
But health officials are concerned as infection rates are creeping up in most states. According to the New York Times, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, and Nevada are in full-fledged outbreaks.
“The fact remains, the virus is still there and now we have the Delta variant and there’s a number of individuals who have not been vaccinated,” said Cindy Williams, vice president and chief pharmacy officer at Riverside Health System.
The commonwealth recorded a 67% increase in new cases in the past 14 days; virtually all of them are in unvaccinated individuals.
“Virginia is generally doing well with vaccinations in relation to the rest of the country. We tend to be in roughly the number 15 toward the top. There are still communities in Virginia where the vaccination rate may be no higher than it is in some of these southern tier states we’re hearing a lot about such as Mississippi,” said Williams.
The numbers are growing just as the calendar gets closer to the end of the summer and the beginning of classes for students in the fall.
Over the next six weeks, Riverside Health will launch an all-hands effort to get shots in the arm of students as the Delta variant is producing younger and sicker patients.
“So whether that’s middle and high school, whether that’s in our local colleges, we have a number of clinics scheduled over the upcoming weeks with the goal of getting that population vaccinated and really fully vaccinated plus two weeks prior to them going back to school,” said Williams.
The nation missed the president’s goal of a 70% vaccination rate by July 4. Nationally, at peak, 3.4 million shots were administered each day. Today, the count is closer to 430,000. With rates on the decline as infections are on the increase, many residents are beginning to wonder whether to return to mitigation efforts such as masking up, hand washing, and social distancing.
Williams says those who are vulnerable to severe infection should use caution.
“They really do need to think about how they are handling themselves in public situations and consider whether wearing a mask, especially indoors and around people you don’t know, may be prudent as we continue to learn how this Delta variant may end up spreading in our communities,” said Williams.
The upcoming clinics will accept anyone over the age of 12. For more information, contact Riverside at 1-800-675-6368.
- July 21: Rappahannock Community College: Glenns Campus 10am-2pm (https://www.vavax.org/appointment/en/reg/5612829057)
- July 26: Rappahannock Community College: Warsaw Campus 10am-2pm (https://www.vavax.org/appointment/en/reg/1762950605)
- August 3: Newport News/Warwick High School 1pm-4pm (https://www.vavax.org/appointment/en/reg/0012857569)
- August 17: Thomas Nelson Community College: Hampton Campus 3p-630p (https://www.vavax.org/appointment/en/reg/5614629057)
- August 18: Thomas Nelson Community College: James City County Campus 3p-630p (https://www.vavax.org/appointment/en/reg/9259701635)