August was the second-worst month for new COVID-19 cases in Greene County, behind only January. After seeing only 10 new cases in the month of June and 60 in July, August saw 190 cases along with 10 hospitalizations and two new deaths. Less than one week into September, 89 new cases along with six new hospitalizations puts us well on our way to breaking August’s record. Sept. 2 saw a record-breaking 27 cases in a single day for Greene County, beating the previous single-day spike of 19 recorded on July 8 and Jan. 8 and 25.
“We have seen a big uptick in cases recently, primarily the Delta variant spreading quickly,” said Kathryn Goodman, Communications and Public Relations Manager for the Blue Ridge Health District. “We are encouraging everyone to wear their masks in public settings and to get vaccinated.”
“There are a few factors that play a part in our current BRHD case count,” said BRHD Public Information Officer Jason Elliott last month. “Individuals not using masks, maintaining distance and limiting in-person activities and individuals assuming mild symptoms are due to allergies when, in fact, they have COVID-19. It is important to remember that there are still people who are not fully vaccinated; this includes children under 12 who are not yet able to become vaccinated. With this in mind, it is important to continue using mitigation strategies—wearing masks, physical distancing and washing hands frequently remain important in the fight against COVID-19 cases.”
As of Sept. 6, 59.2% of Greene County residents have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine and 53.9% are fully vaccinated. This is a slight uptick in the past month, which Goodman says is an encouraging trend. Free FDA-approved vaccines are available at several locations throughout the county or by contacting your primary care provider or the local health department, and the Health Department office in downtown Stanardsville offers walk-in vaccine appointments at 50 Stanard St. every Monday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.
On July 27, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new recommendations for masking, including that everyone—including fully vaccinated people—should wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. This is due, in part, to early data showing the chance that vaccinated people could transmit the Delta variant to those who are still unvaccinated. For the past month, the entire state of Virginia—and now the entire country—has been at a “high” level of community transmission, according to the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. You can view the map and latest data at covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker.
The Delta variant, which is now the dominant variant in much of the United States due to its ability to spread more quickly even among the vaccinated, is also beginning to affect more children (who are as yet still ineligible for the currently FDA-approved vaccinations). As of Sept. 3, 15 GCPS students have tested positive for the virus along with three staff members in the first three weeks of school, according to the GCPS COVID-19 dashboard on greenecountyschools.com. Only 41 students and 16 staff members were verified as having contracted COVID-19 while attending in-person school in the county for the entirety of the past year.
Statistics are not currently available for the private schools in the county.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a Public Health Emergency Order Aug. 12 requiring universal masking in indoor settings in the state’s K-12 schools, both public and private.
For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 cases, transmission and vaccination rates in Greene and surrounding counties, visit vdh.virginia.gov/blue-ridge/covid-19-brhd-data-portal. For information on the Delta and other variants, visit vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/variants-of-concern.