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Weekly COVID-19 update: Health officials urge caution over holiday weekend as case numbers continue to rise

Weekly COVID-19 update: Health officials urge caution over holiday weekend as case numbers continue to rise

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As COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise across Virginia, Roanoke-area health officials on Friday recommended that unvaccinated people stay home and avoid crowds over the long Labor Day weekend, and that even those who have been fully vaccinated should “carefully consider their options” when deciding whether to travel.

“Anything outdoors is going to be safer than indoors, but people should think through their plans and assess their risk,” Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, said in a news release.

On Friday, the districts reported 430 new cases of COVID-19 over just the previous three days. On Tuesday, the districts had reported 715 cases over the prior seven-day period.

Similar increases are being seen across the state.

For the first time since early February, Virginia reported more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases two days in a row, both Thursday and Friday.

Over the past seven days, Virginia saw 23,515 new infections, almost 3,000 more than during the previous seven-day period. The cumulative total in the state since the start of the pandemic has reached 778,167, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Also Friday, the state reported 682 new hospitalizations over the past seven days — eight more than during the previous week — bringing the total number of people hospitalized during the pandemic to 34,026, although the VDH website notes that hospitalizations are underrepresented.

The hospital systems in the state’s Near Southwest Region — Carilion Clinic, Centra Health, LewisGale, Sovah Health and the Salem VA Medical Center — on Friday said that they currently have 297 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with 88 of them in an intensive care unit. A week ago, they reported 240 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with 81 in an ICU.

The state on Friday reported 130 new virus-related deaths over the past seven days — eight more than the previous week — for a total of 11,899 since the start of the pandemic.

As of Friday morning, 68.1% of Virginia’s adult population had been fully vaccinated.

“COVID-19 has essentially become a preventable disease,” Morrow said. “We at the health department will continue working to prevent any unnecessary deaths or hospitalizations by encouraging everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.”

The Bristol Herald Courier contributed information to this report.

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