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Local virus death toll at 96; area reports 152 new cases over weekend
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Local virus death toll at 96; area reports 152 new cases over weekend

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Over the weekend, the death of another elderly Spotsylvania County resident was reported in the Rappahannock Area Health District, along with 152 new cases of people who tested positive for COVID-19.

With the latest death—of a white man, age 80-plus—the local health district has reported 96 deaths associated with the virus. Almost 50 of those fatalities occurred in long-term care settings as the most recent one did.

Spotsylvania County has recorded far more deaths than any other locality in the health district because of outbreaks at such settings; 57 Spotsylvania residents have died compared to 22 in Stafford County, six each in Fredericksburg and Caroline County; and five in King George County.

Meanwhile, Stafford continues to see dramatic increases in new cases and is poised to hit the 3,000-mark this week. The county has had 2,990 people test positive for COVID-19 since March, and Spotsylvania isn’t far behind with 2,916 cases, as of Sunday’s report.

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“Numbers are crashing through the ceiling,” said Mary Washington Healthcare CEO Mike McDermott about local trends mirrored across the state, nation and world. “We’re seeing new records every single day.”

The number of people hospitalized also has risen to the point that he’s sounded the alarm. MWHC officials are holding a virtual townhall at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, to address the cases and to implore people to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to their immediate household.

During former high peaks in case numbers, Stafford Hospital and Mary Washington Hospital—which has treated the bulk of area COVID-19 patients—never saw more than 30 patients per day, McDermott said. Then, cases rose readily from Nov. 1 to the point there were 40 people hospitalized on Saturday with virus symptoms, said Lisa Henry, MWHC marketing director.

The health district’s positivity rate, which measures the number of positive tests among all those taken, also has risen since Halloween. Its seven-day average is 9.2 percent, higher than the state’s average of 7.1 percent.

Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center CEO David McKnight said he’s aware that people are tired of hearing about and dealing with COVID-19, but said this is not the time to let down their guard. He said he almost feels like “the mask police” as he enters hospital breakrooms, reminding people they can’t gather around plates of cookies and other baked goods like they’ve done in the past.

“It’s the holiday season, and people are bringing stuff in,” McKnight said. “I love partaking in things as much as anybody, but not this year.”

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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