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Three more COVID-19 deaths in August bring Fredericksburg area toll to 5 for the month

Three more COVID-19 deaths in August bring Fredericksburg area toll to 5 for the month

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For the first five days of August, five new deaths associated with COVID-19 have been reported in the Rappahannock Area Health District.

Wednesday’s report listed three new fatalities: one woman and two men, all white residents. The Stafford County woman and Spotsylvania County man were both in their 70s, and a Fredericksburg man was in his 80s. Their deaths do not appear to be related to an outbreak at a long-term care facility, and they bring to 55 the number of local people who have died from the novel coronavirus since March.

Not only are COVID-19 fatalities rising; so are the number of cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate, which measures the percentage of people testing positive for the respiratory disease out of all those tested. They’ve been going up for the past three weeks, said Allison Balmes–John, spokesperson for the local health district.

“This indicates that we are likely seeing increased transmission of the virus in our area,” she said, urging residents to follow the list of precautions that many can recite by heart.

They include wearing a mask, social distancing, frequently washing hands, disinfecting contact surfaces and staying home when sick.

The local health district is seeing the largest number of cases among people in their 20s and 30s, Balmes–John said. Those two age groups represent almost 4 of every 10 people in Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford who have tested positive for the virus.

When those in their 40s and 50s are included, young- to middle-age adults represent 70 percent of area cases. The oldest, age 60 and over, and the youngest, age 19 and under, account for the smallest number of confirmed cases.

While data has shown that the oldest residents fare the worst—almost 9 of every 10 local deaths were among people over 60—Balmes–John regularly quotes a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19’s impact on younger people.

Two of every 5 young adults, age 18 to 34, who get COVID-19 are not back to normal health after two to three weeks, “which is a long time to be sick at home,” she said.

Because the disease is spread from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, the Rappahannock Area Health District reminds “all community members of the importance of following precautions.”

In the local health district, the seven-day average for positive tests is 7 percent, the highest it’s been since June 17, when it was almost 10 percent. Fifteen people are being treated for COVID-19 symptoms in the area’s three hospitals.

As for outbreaks at facilities with elderly patients, the number of cases at Hughes Home for Adults in Fredericksburg has climbed to 39. Two people from Hughes have died. Both were receiving hospice care before they contracted the virus, according to Administrator Daryl Sullivan.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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