Coronavirus cases are going up in Lancaster, Northumberland, Middlesex and across the Three Rivers Health District, and there’s “a lot of worry” about what’s in store over the next few weeks, Kilmarnock Mayor Mae Umphlett said at the September town council meeting.

“There are lots of cases that are close to home of people that are sick so I share the mayor’s concern,” said town manager Susan Cockrell.

On September 20, there were 3,300 active cases in tracing in the Three Rivers Health District. That number was up from about 2,000 two weeks prior, and weekly cases are running in the high 500s, Cockrell said sharing data from weekly calls with Virginia Department of Health (VDH).  

Lancaster has about four cases per day and Northumberland is double that at eight cases a day. The percent positivity rate in Northumberland is double what it is in Lancaster. Six schools across the health district have known in-classroom transmissions. So, from where we were a few weeks ago, the risk has increased and we definitely have more children getting sick, Cockrell added.

Eastern Virginia hospitals are being stressed based on caseload and the availability of personnel, particularly nurses who this year have had increasing opportunties to take positions as a traveling nurse and make more money.

Monoclonal antibody treatment

Virginia has started sending monoclonal antibody treatments to regional providers.

A monoclonal antibody treatment prevents the virus from multiplying, or as VDH explains, “it provides a short burst of immunity.” Research shows the treatments help reduce the chance of hospitalization and death, and they can reduce recovery time. REGEN-COV, the monoclonal antibody treatment listed on the VDH website, “can also be used to help people who meet specific criteria prevent the development of COVID-19 in the first place,” said VDH.

“Research has shown that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who received monoclonal antibody treatment did not have their disease progress about 70-80% of the time. This was compared to people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who did not receive monoclonal antibody therapy.” -Virginia Department of Health

For those who show symptoms of the virus, one of the steps VDH advises is to call your healthcare provider to see if you need monoclonal antibody treatment.

“The message is if you can stay out of the hospital system, the better off you are,” said Cockrell. Also, the treatments are rationed based on use and if a region doesn’t use 75 percent of what’s allocated, the allotment is reduced the following week.

As of the town council meeting, Cockrell said the booster shot was not available locally but people can ask local doctors for it and may be directed to places where it’s available.

Forecast

“It looks like the peak that we thought would come in the second week of October will come a week or so earlier and it’s hoped that we will peak out at the same rate we were in January…Things are difficult in the COVID world right now,” said Kilmarnock’s town manager. Further, flu vaccines are available and “highly encouraged” because the expectation is flu season will be difficult this year.

“I just want to say wear your mask and social distance. If you don’t need to visit a lot of people indoors, don’t do it. Just be careful, said mayor Umphlett.