General relaxation of Halifax County residents is what health officials believe to be the reason behind the county recording its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
The Virginia Department of Health reported 14 new cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus for Halifax County in a Wednesday morning online data update.
This comes after a 11-case spike on Saturday. Seven new cases were added in Thursday’s report.
The county has added 45 new cases in a one-week period.
“Compare our numbers to what they were in March, and then compare our actions now to how cautiously we behaved in March,” said Scott Spillmann, Southside Health District director.
A total of 264 Halifax County residents have contracted COVID-19 since the end of March.
Information regarding the first case in Halifax County was released on March 24 involving a medical worker with Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital. The Virginia Department of Health reported the second case in Halifax County on April 5.
On April 6, Spillmann told Halifax County Board of Supervisors roughly 10% of the United State’s population had contracted the virus at that time.
But he warned, “Almost surely it will get worse.”
On Wednesday, Spillman said now in September, “Some people have stopped taking the virus seriously, and this is the result. In addition, as fall brings cooler weather and we all spend more time indoors with others, there is the potential for additional spread of disease if we are not diligent in wearing masks and socially distancing.”
The Southside Health District — an area that includes Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties — also added two new outbreaks in congregate settings this week, which can be anything from businesses to day care facilities. Online data does not specify which locality has the outbreaks.
Online data provided by the Virginia Long Term Care Task Force shows Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Multi-Care Facilities Reporting Outbreaks of COVID-19 by locality.
No outbreaks in nursing homes are currently shown for Halifax County, Mecklenburg County and Brunswick County.
As of Thursday, there were 568 cases associated with 14 outbreaks across the local health district — a jump of more than 100 in a day. It’s not clear if the cases associated with outbreaks have already been reported in daily numbers. Health officials have noted a lag time in entering data online.
Baskerville Correctional Center currently has 162 offenders who have tested positive and seven staff as of Wednesday, according to Virginia Department of Corrections.
When asking for more specific data for Halifax County and its demographics, Spillmann said, “It would be inappropriate to break them down by county, as that could make it very easy to identify individual cases.”
The Southside Health District is in a slow growth phase, meaning there is sustained growth in cases, according to Friday’s update from the University of Virginia’s COVID-19 model. Previously the COVID-19 model only classified areas as being in a surge.
Halifax County’s death toll from COVID-19 doubled over the weekend to four.
“We must keep up our vigilance in following the crucial health behaviors that have been shown to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19. In particular, we must continue to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing, and attend to hand hygiene as diligently as possible, to help manage transmission of the virus,” said Spillmann.
He also suggested if anyone is high risk or has COVID-19 to stay home, and he recommended individuals avoid crowds.
The Southside Health District director also is encouraging anyone over six months old to get a flu shot.
“Preventing and reducing levels of influenza in our community will reduce symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19,” said Spillmann.
The CDC recommends getting a flu shot before the end of October.