Local experts discuss recent COVID-19 case increases in Hampton Roads

Coronavirus

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia is reporting some of its lowest coronavirus statistics since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 350 new cases across the commonwealth, which is a record low. Hospitalizations are also at a record low, and no new deaths were reported Monday.

However, local numbers are trending up. There are more than 100 new cases in Hampton Roads, many in the southside cities. Over the past four days, Chesapeake reported 67 new cases, Norfolk reported 118 new cases and Virginia Beach reported 167 new cases.

“The rolling seven-day average was coming down until — in eastern Virginia — until early June,” said Dr. Edward Oldfield, who is a professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School and an infectious disease specialist. “It reached as low as about 55 cases a day. but then by the end of June, it had risen to about 105 cases, so almost double.”

“The question is ‘What’s this increase?’ So then you look at percent positives, which, for Norfolk is around 10 percent, which is fairly high, much higher than Virginia Beach,” said Oldfield.

Local experts, including Oldfield, say it’s hard to pinpoint one reason for a spike in cases, but it most likely comes from group gatherings combined with a lack of social distancing and lack of masks.

Oldfield said, “Really what we’re seeing is people under the age of 50 are the ones causing this spike in cases.”

Dr. Demetria Lindsay, health director for Norfolk and Virginia Beach, agrees.

She said, “We are finding a pattern. A significant portion of people who have been involved in some type of gathering, and most of those center around celebrations such as Father’s Day, birthdays, graduation.”

However, hospitalizations remain relatively steady. That’s good news, but Oldfield worries it could change.

“We’re going up in cases,” said Oldfield. “So far we haven’t in hospitalizations, but again that could be a lag, both in transmitting from young to older and higher-risk populations and just a lag from when you’re diagnosed to when you get sick enough to be in the hospital.”

He says we still need to focus on keeping the curve flat so we don’t overwhelm local hospitals.

Oldfield said “We’re better prepared, we have more PPE — personal protective equipment — than we had. We know how to treat the virus more effectively, but we still don’t want to get overwhelmed.”

Both doctors say case numbers are still better in Hampton Roads than in many other parts of the country, but we shouldn’t get complacent.

“At the end of the day, what people do matters,” said Lindsay. “It matters not only for themselves, it matters for their families, and it matters for the community.”


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