Cases

The percent positive — a seven-day average calculation of positive tests in relation to total tests administered — has been nudging upward in the state and local district. In the Southside Health District (above), that metric was at 7.2% on Sunday. The statewide number was 7.6%.

Halifax County crossed the 100-mark threshold of COVID-19 cases on Sunday morning, the last holdout among Southern Virginia localities with only double-digit figures last week.

The cumulative caseload for Halifax County was at 102 on Sunday, an increase of five since Thursday’s report. Data shows there have been 39 cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus added in the last two weeks, a rough measure of how many active cases there are currently in the community.

The neighboring Pittsylvania-Danville Health District was highlighted in a weekly report by the Virginia Department of Health as one of 10 areas experiencing a surge in cases. The other districts are located in the Hampton Roads area and the Thomas Jefferson district in the Charlottesville region.

As of Sunday morning, the Pittsylvania-Danville district had 405 cases — 99 more than a week ago on July 12.

Mecklenburg County recorded another COVID-19 death on Friday for a total of 30. Across two nursing homes in Mecklenburg, 26 residents have died after outbreaks there. That figure remains unchanged in online data after Saturday’s death was recorded.

Last week, South Boston’s Dollar General Distribution center reported 11 cases of COVID-19 there since late June. The facility closed three times for about a day each for what it calls deep cleaning.

Across the state, there were 77,430 cases Sunday morning. That’s an increase of 1,057 from Saturday’s report.

A total of 2,027 deaths were reported on Sunday.

Surge explanation

The state health department’s weekly report explains for a few weeks in early summer, it appeared the United States was seeing a lull in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while it may have looked like the nation turned a corner, the decline was in early epicenters, such as New York City and Seattle. The report notes “decisive action” in those areas. As an example, New York City saw more than 500 deaths per day at its peak. Last week, for the first time, it experienced a day with no deaths.

While the virus was subsiding in those epicenters, it was spreading elsewhere, the health department reports. Other areas had not turned the corner in the pandemic, instead it was only beginning.

“Rather, it is likely that COVID-19 had yet to arrive, at least not in all of its fury,” the report states.

Some states aggressively relaxed restrictions put in place in March to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now, 23 states are “experiencing significant surges in cases.”

By contrast, Virginia proceeded with a measured phased reopening plan. It wasn’t until July 1 that the commonwealth entered Phase Three, a level allowing for more — but not unlimited — social interaction.

“Despite this measured approach, Virginia is not immune to a resurgence of COVID-19, especially with cases surging in other states,” the report states.

That’s evident with 10 health districts showing “significant surges” — including the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District.

“It is crucial that Virginians clamp down now to prevent these surges from growing and spreading,” the report warns.

However, projections show that hospitals will not exceed capacity through August.

Testing

Of the 533 total cases in the Southside Health District — the area encompassing Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties — all are confirmed by tests. The health department, in some instances, also lists probable cases. That means a person is showing the signs of the illness and had contact with someone else who’s tested positive.

A positive result means the coronavirus was detected, and the patient is presumptively both infected and contagious. The health department only records what’s known as RT-PCR tests, which stands for real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain tests. It’s considered the gold standard and drastically differs from antibodies or antigen tests. Antibody tests are highly inaccurate and are not included in the Virginia Department of Health’s data reports.

With the RT-PCR, regardless of how many times a person has been tested, they will only be counted as a case once, according to the health department.

Over the course of the COVID-19 response, some people have been tested more than once. Some of these people are health care workers, some are at high-risk, and some are known cases who need to have negative tests to return to their normal life.

For example, according to the health department, if a person has two tests and both are positive, it’s only counted as one case.

As of Sunday in the Southside Health District, there have been 10,539 testing encounters since the pandemic’s beginning. This number may include the same people being tested more than once.

The percent positive — a seven-day average calculation of positive tests in relation to total tests administered — has been nudging upward in the state and local district. In the Southside Health District, that metric was at 7.2% on Sunday. The statewide number was 7.6%.