As new coronavirus cases in the area are being logged at a faster rate than ever, Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District Director Dr. Wade Kartchner said he hopes residents will use the holiday week to reflect “on things that give us a sense of gratitude.”
“We have so much to be thankful for in this nation, especially in this part of the country that we call Virginia,” he said. “We have suffered much during the pandemic, including loss of loved ones, jobs, education and some civility. Take some time to ponder those things that we do have, that make us fortunate and even blessed.”
The message comes as the Virginia Department of Health reported that, as of Nov. 22, the health district had 3,996 total cases. In the district, Culpeper had seen the most cases with 1,877 while there were 1,346 in Fauquier, 522 in Orange, 175 in Madison and 76 in Rappahannock.
The district also reported 59 total deaths, with 27 in Fauquier, 19 in Culpeper, seven in Orange, four in Madison and two in Rappahannock.
On Nov. 22, Culpeper had an average of 20 new cases over a week-long period. In the month, Culpeper reported more than 400 new cases.
This comes as the Coffeewood Prison has seen an outbreak among inmates and staff. On Nov. 18, the Virginia Department of Corrections reported that the first and only inmate had died stemming from coronavirus complications. The prison reported that 214 inmates and 25 staff members were positive as of Nov. 22 while 449 total people within the facility had tested positive.
Statewide, the health department reported on Nov. 22 that there were 217,796 caes, 14,046 hospitalizations and 3,939 deaths since March.
As the number of local, state and national cases rise, a new rapid test site was recently opened at the Culpeper Hospital off Sunset lane, where health district residents can get tests for $75 if they are asymptomatic. Free tests are given to health district residents who have symptoms or have been exposed to virus.
Kartchner said while the amount of new cases “can be disheartening for all of us,” there is some good news as Pfizer and Moderna have announced the development of coronavirus vaccinations.
“The early data is better than most predictions could have hoped for,” he said of the vaccines.
The next step, Kartchner added, is for the Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorization for the vaccines, which should take a few weeks. Once the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices grants approval, the vaccines can “be given to recipients in a planned, tiered rollout.”