Richmond health officials warn city is seeing increase in COVID-19 exposures

Richmond health officials warn city is seeing increase in COVID-19 exposures

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond Health District is sounding a cautionary alarm about COVID-19 cases in the city.

In recent weeks, case numbers have gone up, but Dr. Melissa Viray, Richmond/Henrico Health Districts Deputy Director, says there’s still time to change the trajectory.

Health officials say the increase began earlier this month. However, the numbers aren’t turning around and now they’re seeing a rise in cases and hospitalizations.

At a briefing Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Viray said they are seeing increased exposures from restaurants, work places, health care offices, hospitals and inside the classroom.

Last week, the area was at a “moderate risk” for community transmission. Now that is upgraded to “substantial risk.”

“I’m concerned that if we do not pay attention to this, do not pay attention to early signs, we will be looking at increasing cases that will impact all of our community throughout Richmond,” said Dr. Viray. “Even in the region, we are seeing increases.”

Dr. Viray says there are a variety of factors at play including more people getting out and about. And with that she worries virus fatigue is striking.

“I worry that it’s very hard to stay socially distanced. It’s very hard to wear your mask everywhere you go. It’s hard to not do the things we’re used to doing to keep ourselves healthy, be with family, be with friends. And I worry that over time that’s going to catch up with us,” said Dr. Viray.

Dr. Viray also said the health district is dealing with mask mandate enforcement complaints at restaurants, bars and grocery stores around the area. They’re asking business owners to continue to stay vigilant.

The health district will continue to respond to those complaints and act as necessary. A number of restaurants in the area have been shut down in recent months due to COVID-19 safety issues.

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