Another outbreak has emerged at a long-term care facility in the Southside Health District the same time Halifax County recorded 39 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day.
The district spans Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties. The new outbreak appeared in Monday morning’s dashboard update from the Virginia Department of Health.
It’s not clear where the outbreak occurred, and health department officials are no longer bound by law to disclose details. While Virginia was under a state of emergency, the department had to maintain a weekly update on outbreaks in certain places — including long-term care homes — and provide details when available. After that state of emergency lapsed, health officials are no longer commenting on individual outbreaks, and the web data has been removed.
“These dashboards are no longer available as of July 1, 2021 because the COVID-19 emergency declaration in Virginia ended,” the health department states online.
The unknown long-term care facility was one of two new outbreaks that surfaced Monday morning. The other is in what’s known as a congregate setting. That’s a category that includes a wide range of places like businesses, churches, day care facilities and even community gatherings.
The overall number of cases among outbreaks has grown by 42.
On Saturday, Halifax County added 39 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. There were 17 new cases added Sunday and five appeared in Monday’s column.
Nine new cases appeared in Tuesday’s update.
The Virginia Department of Health also no longer updates the dashboard on weekends. Monday was the first time this data came to light.
Halifax is now averaging about 14 new COVID-19 cases a day, the highest level since mid-February. The increase is perceived by health officials to be driven by the delta variant, a highly transmissible version of the coronavirus first discovered in India.
Not only is this particular strain capable of spreading faster, but it also causes more severe illnesses, according to the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute. It’s of a particular concern for the unvaccinated population, which amounts to more than half of the adults in Halifax County.
When factoring in children, only 38% of the local population is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
While it’s possible for even those vaccinated to contract the virus — known as breakthrough cases — often the symptoms are mild and the individual does not require hospitalization, according to UVa.
Two more deaths
Two more deaths were added to the Halifax County’s COVID-19 toll Saturday, although they likely occurred weeks earlier.
The two fatalities were both women. One was in her 40s and the other was in her 50s.
Beyond simple demographic information — obtained from day-to-day data tracking — very little is known to the public when someone dies of COVID-19. The health department doesn’t comment on individual deaths.
The date of death also is clouded in mystery. Before a fatality is logged into a COVID-19 database, health officials wait for a death certificate to arrive to determine if the virus was a cause. That process can take weeks.
At least 80 residents of Halifax County have died of the illness.