Halifax County’s COVID-19 caseload continues to rise day-over-day, and Mecklenburg County recorded two additional deaths linked to the virus, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
In a one-week period, Halifax County added 16 cases of COVID-19, an illness caused by the coronavirus. There are 57 residents who have been infected since March.
In total, 410 residents of the Southside Health District — an area that encompasses Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties — have tested positive for the severe respiratory infection.
The increases come as more areas of Virginia — including Halifax — are reporting cases stemming from travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The popular vacation destination has become a hot spot for infections in recently weeks. Some localities are asking residents who travel to Myrtle Beach to self-quarantine for a 14-day period when returning. The 14-day window represents the amount of time it could take before someone infected with the virus could show symptoms.
However, Dr. Scott Spillmann, director of the Southside Health District, noted this week that he’s also seen more positive tests recently from people who are either not showing symptoms — considered to be asymptomatic — or they are tested positive days before the illness effects set in.
No new outbreaks have been reported in recent weeks for the Southside Health District.
As of Thursday morning, the health department reported 63,735 cases in Virginia, an increase of 532 in a day. Those cases also include what the department refers to as probable cases, meaning someone is showing the signs of COVID-19 and had contact with someone who was positive.
In Halifax County and the Southside Health District, all of the cases are confirmed by a positive test.
Chase City Health and Rehab Center added two deaths in recent days, according to an online database of outbreaks in nursing homes.
On April 4, the Virginia Department of Health was notified of an outbreak at Sentara Meadow View Terrace where 83 people were infected and 13 died.
On May 8, the department learned of an outbreak at Chase City Health and Rehab Center. That outbreak sickened 92 people and caused 12 deaths, data shows.
Both outbreaks are listed as “pending closure,” which means there are no longer active cases in those facilities.
On Wednesday, while the commonwealth moved into Phase Three of reopening — a plan that loosens restrictions enacted in March to slow the spread of the virus — Gov. Ralph Northam paused congregating in bars. The governor announced this decision on Tuesday evening, just hours before Phase Three began.
According to the governor’s news release, the decision was made to reduce the likelihood of patrons gathering in bar areas without observing social distancing guidelines. Bar seating and congregating areas of restaurants will remain closed except for those passing through. Restaurants may use non-bar seating in the bar area, as long as a minimum of six feet between tables is provided.
“I am watching what is happening in other states — we are taking a cautious approach as we enter Phase Three and maintaining the current restrictions on bar areas,” said Northam. “In Virginia, our hospitalization rates have fallen, our percentage of positive tests continues to trend downward, and we are conducting more than 10,000 tests each day. We want these trends to continue, but if our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities.”
While Northam referred to the percentage of positive tests as going down, in recent days that number has ticked up slightly. The metric is a calculation of the percent of people who test positive in relation to the overall tests given.
The commonwealth reached a low of 5.8% on June 23 but has since climbed to 6.2%.
On Thursday there were 1,816 deaths in Virginia attributed to the virus.