Coronavirus outbreak continues to plague Eastern Shore

Accomack County

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – The Eastern Shore continues to be a coronavirus hotspot and that has some local officials concerned.

“It’s mind-blowing to live in an area where usually we are so protected,” said Onley Mayor Matt Hart.

But now, Accomack County has found itself exposed. Residents are testing positive for coronavirus at an alarming rate.

“I can speak for a big part of the population; we are so protected from everything,” Hart added. “I thought it was just going to blow over and we wouldn’t have been affected by COVID as much as we have.”

The positive tests in the small county continue to add up, especially when you compare Virginia Beach to Accomack.  The Resort City has nearly 450,000 residents and 439 people have tested positive, meaning one out of about every 1,000 residents have gotten sick.

Comparatively, Accomack has a population of about 32,000. There have been 425 positive tests. That’s one out of about every 76 people. It is the second-worst percentage in the state.

The only county in the state worse per capita than Accomack is Richmond County on the Northern Neck.  

“When you go into Walmart at any given time, I would think that there is a least 100 people in there,” Hart said. “When you look at the numbers, at least one or maybe two people in that store have it, according to the numbers. That’s not to say that’s true, but if you look at the numbers, it is true.”

Hart believes a big factor behind the outbreak is the county’s two chicken plants: Perdue and Tyson, its largest employers.

“It just seems to me considering those plants have closed, reopened and been cleaned, there must have been a major outbreak there,” Hart added. “They have reported there have been five major outbreaks on the Shore from what I gather, and I couldn’t figure out where they came from, but I assume they came from there.”

Neighboring Northampton County has the third-highest per capita of positive tests in the state. That prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to come investigate what is going happening on the Shore. Hart says he sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam last week asking to make it mandatory to wear a mask in public.

“I don’t think we need to wait till it is too late to start wearing them, because if we wait too long, we all may be quarantined to our houses,” Hart said.

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