The Pittsylvania-Danville Health District added 14 new deaths from COVID-19 to the logs last week as the daily caseload continues with a steady decline.
So far, 419 residents of Danville and Pittsylvania County have died from the disease caused by the new coronavirus since the first death was recorded on March 25, 2020. The new deaths added over the last seven days are likely to have occurred weeks previously due to the rigorous process the Virginia Department of Health uses to confirm that a death was related to COVID-19.
Danville and Pittsylvania County together add about 40 new infections of COVID-19 a day, the lowest level since the end of December. It represents a 83% drop from the peak of the omicron wave in mid-January, a record increase in infections triggered by a highly transmissible variant.
In yet another outburst of optimism, Danville has a low COVID-19 threat to the health care system, based on new measurements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC debuted a new way of looking at the pulse of the pandemic at the local level on Friday.
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In the past, the agency used case frequencies and positivity to take into account how the virus was transmitted in an area. It determined the risk and whether masks should be worn indoors. On Friday, the CDC switched to using hospital data to guide recommendations on wearing masks.
Pittsylvania County is in the middle category – yellow – meaning that immunocompromised or residents at high risk for serious illness are encouraged to talk to their health care provider to see if a face mask should be worn in public.
However, Danville is located as an island in the lowest level of the revised rankings. To the west, no data is available for Martinsville or Henry County. To the east and north, these jurisdictions are still in the highest risk category, with the federal agency still recommending face cover for indoor public spaces.
It was not immediately clear how the calculations work for a system like Sovah Health, which is divided into two hospitals in Danville and Martinsville.
Based on the previous guidance, COVID-19 continues to spread unchecked in Danville and Pittsylvania County. The positivity rate – the measure of positive results relative to the total tests administered – was 18% for Danville and 26% for Pittsylvania County.
Leaders with Sovah Health-Danville did not respond to questions Friday from Register & Bee about the new guidance from the CDC. However, it appeared that Centra Health had a wait-and-see approach, although inpatients with COVID-19 continue at its facilities.
“While we hope these numbers will continue to fall, we are cautiously optimistic and will continue to make decisions with great regard for where we have been and the safety of our communities, patients and carers as our top priority,” he wrote. leaders in a Friday afternoon statement. “We will continue to mask in clinical and non-clinical areas for the foreseeable future.”
A preliminary Friday report from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute reports that the number of cases continues to decline across the state. Only areas in remote southwestern and southern Virginia are still experiencing high infection rates.
Models that predict case volumes for the coming weeks will be updated next week.