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Charlottesville COVID cases surpass Albemarle as holiday season approaches

Charlottesville COVID cases surpass Albemarle as holiday season approaches

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TJHD data 10/16/20

Data compiled by the Thomas Jefferson Health District on 10/16/20

Charlottesville COVID-19 cases have surpassed Albemarle County cases as the University of Virginia case numbers have dropped.

According to data compiled by the Thomas Jefferson Health District, as of Friday, there were 4,114 cases in the district, up from 3,651 cases two weeks prior. Of the positive cases, 1,499 are in Charlottesville, which has surpassed Albemarle County which currently has 1,466 cases.

The health district encompasses Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson.

There isn’t one particular event that caused an increase in COVID-19 numbers in Charlottesville, THJD Spokesperson Kathryn Goodman said, though the district has seen an increase in off-grounds UVa cases. According to the health district’s COVID dashboard, Charlottesville surpassed Albemarle County in case number on Oct. 8.

UVa reported Thursday that 9% of its quarantine beds are in use, while 6% of its isolation rooms are occupied. Two weeks prior, the university reported that 29% of its quarantine beds were in use and 9% of its isolation rooms were occupied.

The university currently has 105 active cases, 78 of which are students. This significant decrease from numbers two weeks ago, which showed UVa had 270 active cases, 252 of which were students. Case numbers from UVa are included in the health district’s data portal.

Though daily case numbers are trending downward in the district, Goodman emphasized caution as the holiday season approaches.

With Halloween two weeks away and Thanksgiving a few weeks after that, the health district is planning to offer more testing in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties on a routine basis throughout November.

Testing will be offered in each county the district encompasses as well as additional events in Charlottesville the week before Thanksgiving, Goodman said.

During the week of November 16, the health district will be hosting an event every day in a different locality in the health district. Goodman said they anticipate that results from the last round of testing that week would come in by Nov. 23 at the latest.

“The important thing for people to know, though, is that if you go and get tested a week before Thanksgiving, that test result [is] for a moment in time,” Goodman said. “So really, you have the potential to be exposed after that if you choose not to stay quarantined until you go to see your family for Thanksgiving.”

Holidays present the opportunity for higher exposure via social interactions, Goodman said, pointing to an increase the district saw around July 4.

Though they don’t plan to turn anyone away, Goodman cautioned that their tests are limited and the health district plans to focus on people who are high-risk individuals or work in a situation where they could be potentially exposed.

With the more immediate future in mind, the health district has released guidance for those looking to trick or treat this year. Recommendations, which can be found on the health district’s website, include: staying home if you are sick or have been exposed; handing out candy in individual bags; standing six feet away, when possible; hanging signs to let trick or treaters know if you are handing out candy; and, of course, wearing masks.

“Halloween is such a social holiday, it’s often a time that families gather together on sidewalks and walk from house to house together,” Goodman said. “ Instead, this year what we recommend is that people limit the number of neighborhoods they’re going to so if you choose to trick or treat, make sure you’re following extra safety precautions and stay just in your neighborhood and use hand sanitizer.”

Tyler Hammel is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7268, thammel@dailyprogress.com or @TylerHammelVA on Twitter.

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