Pandemic is ‘far from over’ as local health officials monitor uptick in COVID-19 cases


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The COVID-19 numbers are rising, and that has local and state health directors concerned.

“We are absolutely driven by this,” said Chesapeake Health Department Director Dr. Nancy Welch.

It’s been nonstop at the Chesapeake Health Department. The last 16 months since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Virginia have been like no other.

“Oh, my goodness,” Welch added. “There are no words to describe it, but that’s why we are here in public health.”

Welch is like most: She’s closely watching the COVID-19 numbers.

“I’m looking at trends,” she said. “Bottom line is, I’m looking at trends.”

And lately, she doesn’t like what she is seeing.

“Our numbers now are more similar with where they were in October,” Welch added.

Welch believes the uptick in COVID-19 cases is due to the summer months and people hanging out acting as if the pandemic is over.

“We are far from over,” Welch said. “We can create a whole new beginning if we are not careful.”

The key now is stopping the Delta variant. She says it won’t happen unless more people get the vaccine.

“If we don’t put a stop of the ability of that variant to thrive, to grow, to replicate and to be present with more people, then our vaccine is not going to work,” she added. “We have to start all over with a new vaccine.”

Some states have already begun to roll back mask mandates. On Tuesday, the CDC suggesting everyone start wearing masks again indoors.

“We’re looking at those options and our team is studying this; I’ve been in communications this morning,” said Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday. “The CDC guidelines just came out yesterday and we want Virginians to be safe. We want this to be behind us, but we’ll offer guidelines within the next few days.”

“Using the mask without getting vaccinated is not going to solve the problem,” Welch said.

Welch says 99% of the COVID-19 cases in the hospital right now are from people who haven’t had the vaccine.

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