By Jeff Poole
Beginning with the first positive COVID-19 case reported in March 2020, August 2021 concluded as the month with the second-highest count of new local virus cases with 374.
That total is exceeded only by the 572 cases reported in January 2021, just as local vaccinations were becoming available.
The August case count exceeded December 2020 (345) and February (325), bringing the county’s total case count at the end of last month to 2,665. Since then, 128 new cases have been reported in the first seven days of September, including two new hospitalizations.
To date, according to Virginia Department of Health Data, there have been 2,793 total cases in Orange County, with 97 hospitalizations and 42 deaths. The rolling seven-day average of new local cases is down to 18, after peaking at 23 at the end of August. However, 258 cases have been reported in the last two weeks alone.
Among neighboring counties, Spotsylvania reported 1,310 cases in August, followed by Culpeper (433) and Orange (374). Louisa had 245 new cases last month, while Greene had 186 and Madison 79.
Rappahannock Rapidan Health District Director, Dr. Colin Greene, attributes the surge to the highly-contagious Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.
Through Tuesday morning, 17,627 of all Orange County residents (47.6%) are fully vaccinated against the virus. Statewide, that figure is 57.3%. In Orange County 57.2% of all eligible adults are vaccinated compared with the statewide total of 68.5%. Nearly 400 Orange County citizens have been fully vaccinated in the past two weeks, according to health department data.
“Getting a flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against the flu, and is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said RRHD Acting Health Director Colin Green. M.D., MPH. “Additional ways to prevent the flu are washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and staying home if you do get sick, so you don’t spread the illness to others.”
In an effort to encourage local vaccination efforts, the health district announced a vaccination clinic Sept. 16 at Rappahannock Elementary School (4 to 7 p.m.) and hosted a virtual town hall with Warrenton pediatrician Dr. Joshua Jakum to answer questions about the vaccine.
The virtual event (held Sept. 8, after presstime) was scheduled to provide information about the spread of COVID-19, discuss how COVID-19 is affecting children, debunk myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and answer audience questions.
“There is wide availability to receive the vaccine,” said Dr. Jakum in a press release promoting the event. “For those who are hesitant, I hope we can answer those questions that you have so you can have peace of mind in your decision. Vaccination will be the ticket to getting us back to normalcy in our lives.”
Vaccinations continue to be available for free at the Orange Health Department every Wednesday, from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., as well as at most area health care providers and pharmacies.