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COVID transmission highest again in parts of Valley & highlands

CDC map showing highest levels of COVID-19 transmission in Augusta and Highland Counties
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC map showing highest levels of COVID-19 transmission in Augusta and Highland Counties

Several jurisdictions in the Shenandoah Valley have been bumped up from low risk for spread of COVID-19 to medium or high, as defined by the CDC. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

The Central Shenandoah Health District said Friday that Rockbridge County and Buena Vista are now considered medium risk areas for COVID transmission, and –

LAURA LEE WIGHT: Currently, the cities of Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro, and the counties of Highland and Augusta are actually the only localities in the Commonwealth that are considered to have high COVID-19 community levels.

Laura Lee Wight

Laura Lee Wight is the population health manager and public information officer for the health district. She explained that an area's risk level is determined by looking at the number of new cases, hospital admissions, and hospital capacity.

WIGHT: So when we look at the rise in cases, I think we could look at, the last couple of months, people might have been more lax with masking, especially in social gatherings … And then, in addition to that, we do have a more transmissible sublineage of the Omicron variant.

According to an update issued by Augusta Health on Monday, the hospital has housed between 10 and 15 COVID patients per day in the past two weeks, and they had three COVID deaths in the past week. They are now limiting most non-COVID patients to one visitor at a time from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Residents with questions about risk levels, testing, or vaccines and boosters can call the Central Shenandoah Health District COVID-19 hotline at 855-949-8378.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.