Another death associated with COVID-19 was reported Saturday, bringing the death toll from the virus to 51 people in the Rappahannock Area Health District.

The Spotsylvania County resident was a Black man, age 80-plus, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The state site also reported a second death in Spotsylvania, but local health district officials said that was a mistake.

With Saturday’s report, Spotsylvania’s death toll from the virus reached 34 fatalities—far more than any other locality in the health district. The next closest is Stafford County, which has had seven deaths from COVID-19.

Stafford has more residents than Spotsylvania—151,689 to 135,715, according to estimates from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Early on, Stafford was a hotspot for the virus, presumably because of its proximity to Northern Virginia, another area known for widespread virus transmission.

But since early July, Spotsylvania has eclipsed Stafford in both cases and fatalities. Almost half of Spotsylvania’s deaths are attributed to an outbreak at Carriage Hill Health & Rehab Center, which claimed 18 lives.

The death reported Saturday brings to 11 the number of Black residents in the local health district who have died from the novel coronavirus. Their deaths make up about 23 percent of the local death toll while Blacks represent about 19 percent of the population statewide.

The disproportionate rate of death among people of color, including Latinos, is even more pronounced across the United States. The APM Research Lab has reported that the national mortality rate for blacks from COVID-19 has never fallen below twice that of all other groups.

“We certainly are in this storm together,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, who was appointed last fall as Virginia’s first chief diversity officer, “but we’re not in the same boats.”

As of Saturday, there were 45 new cases in the local health district for a cumulative total of 3,246 cases. That included 1,318 cases in Spotsylvania; 1,258 in Stafford; 356 in Fredericksburg; 190 in Caroline County; and 124 in King George County.

The district’s positivity rate, which measures the number of positive test results out of all tests given, has a 7-day average of 5.2 percent. The rate represents tests in which a person’s nasal area has been swabbed to determine an active infection. It does not include blood tests that measure antibodies to COVID-19 or any other coronavirus, according to the state health department.

Elsewhere in the region, there have been 946 cases in Culpeper County; 572 in Fauquier County; 210 in Orange County; and 193 in Westmoreland County.

Virginia reported 913 new cases and 41 new deaths for a cumulative total of 90,801 cases and 2,215 deaths associated with COVID-19.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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