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COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations on rise in Fredericksburg region
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COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations on rise in Fredericksburg region

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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the region, an unwelcome although not unexpected development, according to health officials.

Mary Chamberlin said on Thursday that the district has “been in a plateau for some time, which is very typical of the nation as a whole. But that plateau is high.”

Instead of dropping, cases are rising, including five new COVID-19 cases and one death at Mary Washington Hospital reported Friday.

Nathan Irwin, the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center’s chief operating officer, said his hospital has not experienced a rise in hospitalizations. Still, the region’s overall increase in COVID cases is something health officials are keeping an eye on.

“This isn’t unexpected,” Chamberlin said. “We’re in the colder months … so people are congregating inside more, and we just came out of a holiday.”

The Rappahannock Area Health District—Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford—reported 148 new cases on Thursday. Another 124 news cases were reported on Friday.

Prior to Thanksgiving, on Nov. 24, 70 new cases were reported in the region.

Chamberlin said health officials expect cases to continue rising.

Last year’s spikes in cases after the winter holiday season continued into March, Chamberlin said. She said health officials “are hopeful” that an extended spike can be avoided this year because of the vaccine, which wasn’t an option during Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2020.

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“The more concerning metrics would be hospitalizations and deaths,” Chamberlain said.

Prior to Thanksgiving, on Nov. 26, there were 39 COVID patients at the region’s three hospitals, Chamberlin said.

The number of virus patients has continued to climb, to 48 on Nov. 29, then 56 a day later. As of Thursday there were 57 COVID patients in the region’s hospitals.

On Friday, Mary Washington Hospital had 44 COVID-19 patients, five of whom were in the ICU.

Chamberlin said booster shots for adults are “really important” in keeping cases from climbing.

She said the health district recommends the community vaccination center in Central Park, because of accessibility. The clinic is open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day except Monday.

Chamberlin also encouraged parents to get their children (ages 5–11) vaccinated.

She said it’s important to remember that in areas of high transmission rates, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that people wear masks at indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. The transmission rate in the local health district, 11 percent, puts the area on the CDC’s high transmission rate list.

Chamberlin noted that state health officials also recommend that people wear masks at crowded outdoor areas.

“Now that we’re outside for festivals, parades and activities, we can be very close to other people, even outside, so if you’re tightly packed in with other people, even if you’re outside, we do recommend a mask as well,” she said.

Another COVID-related death was reported Thursday. Added to Friday’s death, the total number of virus-related fatalities in the district since the outbreak started is 381.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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