FISHERSVILLE — The number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed at Augusta Health has tripled in the past month, according to a press release from Augusta Health on Monday.
The release said that projections indicate this upward trend in current prevalence rates is expected to continue through at least the end of the year.
Eight patients and several impacted staff members in the Augusta Health skilled nursing facility have tested positive for COVID-19, and all but one are asymptomatic, the release said. The patients have been moved to the COVID care unit, and the staff is now on COVID-19 leave. All remaining staff and patients in the unit are being tested twice weekly, and all tracing measures have been activated to stop the spread and contain the exposure of the virus.
As of Monday, there have been 971 cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Augusta Health at inpatient and outpatient facilities, and a total of 1,832 in the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro region.
The number of patients in the COVID unit has increased, and the hospital is engaging efforts that will double the capacity to care for COVID-19. As a result, Augusta Health is no longer accepting new patients to its rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility units for the time being and will be reviewing the schedule for elective surgeries on a case-by-case basis.
Augusta Health encourages the community to remember that a negative test result does not exclude the possibility that one can still present with an infection for up to 14 days if they’ve been exposed. The hospital encourages everyone to continue social distancing, using face masks, hand washing, avoiding crowds, traveling and putting loved ones at risk during familial gatherings.
“With the increasing rate of infection in the local area, we want to remind families to not hold large gatherings during next week’s Thanksgiving holiday. We understand this may be a hardship; however, these social gatherings place loved ones at risk — especially for the elderly and those with chronic health concerns,” the release said.
The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that the state’s cumulative total of COVID-19 cases during the pandemic is now up to 206,762, an increase of 2,125 from Monday.
The 206,762 cases consist of 187,287 confirmed cases and 19,475 probable cases. There are 3,835 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,557 confirmed and 278 probable. That’s an increase of 29 from the 3,806 reported Monday.
The VDH defines probable COVID-19 cases as people who are symptomatic with a known exposure to COVID-19, but whose cases have not been confirmed with a positive test.
Locally, the Central Shenandoah Health District spans about 293,000 citizens through the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge and Rockingham, as well as the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro.
As of Tuesday, the district had 7,961 confirmed COVID-19 cases — 3,291 in Harrisonburg, 2,005 in Rockingham, 914 in Augusta County, 518 in Staunton, 474 in Waynesboro, 307 in Lexington, 207 in Rockbridge, 189 in Buena Vista, 42 in Bath and 14 in Highland.
331 people in the district have been hospitalized including 136 in Rockingham, 103 in Harrisonburg, 35 in Augusta County, 22 in Staunton, 14 in Waynesboro, eight in Rockbridge, six in Buena Vista, six in Lexington and one in Bath.
VDH reported 98 deaths in the Central Shenandoah District — 36 in Harrisonburg, 31 in Rockingham, 11 in Staunton, 10 in Augusta County, four in Waynesboro, three in Rockbridge, two in Lexington and one in Buena Vista.
Statewide, the total number of people hospitalized is 13,608, though the VDH dashboard notes that hospitalizations are underrepresented. According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, 22,466 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 and released.
There are 1,440 outbreaks, which make up 30,538 of Virginia’s total cases. The VDH classifies an outbreak as at least two lab-confirmed cases.
Data from the VDH coronavirus dashboard shows the percentage of positive results from testing is up from Monday at 7.4%.
State health officials have said there’s a lag in the reporting of statewide numbers on the VDH website. Figures on the website might not include cases or deaths reported by localities or local health districts.
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