Case numbers are coming down across the district with some trends worth mentioning. Montgomery County is beginning to show a slight decline. Community cases in Montgomery County are down significantly while university cases remain elevated.
We know from our case investigations and contact tracing that there is no measurable spillover from the students to the community. The students spread it to each other through social contact. They are not spreading through errands, work or other community interactions. Please note the Y axis on the age 5-17 curve; usually less than 15 cases per week. We also continue to see the number of new COVID-19 cases decline across the other localities in the New River Health District.
The way out of this pandemic is to practice our community mitigation strategies while vaccinating as many people as we can, as quickly as we can.
We continue to be constrained by supply, but we’ve been told to expect an increase towards the end of this month. In preparation for that, we are preparing to scale up our vaccination clinics.
First, we are asking everyone who wants a vaccine to pre-register at vaccinate.virginia.gov, regardless of what phase they fall into. Now is the time to sign up, whatever your age or circumstances. This will allow us to keep scheduling vaccines smoothly as supply increases and we move through the phase prioritizations from 1b to 1c to 2, which is the general public. Please help friends and neighbors pre-register as well.
Second, our vaccination clinics will be moving. Until now, the New River Health District has offered most of its vaccination clinics at the Blue Ridge Church in Christiansburg. We are very grateful for Blue Ridge Church’s generosity in allowing us to use their facilities. They have made a tremendous contribution to their community over these past months.
In order to expand capacity and give more vaccines through larger events, we are changing venues after this week. We will be having more clinics at the Dedmon Center on Radford University’s campus. We will also be using Blacksburg High School, and other local church facilities. We will not be at the same site every day. We ask everyone to check our nrvroadtowellness.com website each week for where the clinic is on what day. You can also call our Vaccination Scheduling line at (540) 838-8222 for a recorded message on clinic locations.
My third announcement is that starting this week, we have moved to scheduling more people age 16-64 with underlying medical conditions. People in this group are scheduled according to their prioritization by age and health condition(s). We continue doing our very best to get the vaccine to people at highest risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19. To date NRHD has given 34,800 vaccines and redistributed 16,500 to our community partners. The total number of vaccines given in the district is 57,877 and 23,021 people are fully vaccinated.
Anyone who has preregistered and needs to update information, including health conditions, can do so at https://vaccinate.virginia.gov. The survey is more comprehensive and the transition to the state system was not without glitches. If you have any questions about the site or pre-registration, you can call the VDH Call Center at (877) VAX-IN-VA or (877) 829- 4682.
Dr. Noelle Bissell
New River Valley Health District