‘We are very concerned’: Richmond Health District looks toward impact of COVID-19 from holiday season

With newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases on the rise this month, Roper St. Francis Healthcare is...
With newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases on the rise this month, Roper St. Francis Healthcare is encouraging everyone to get tested before the holidays.(Live 5/File)
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 7:41 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond is averaging about 76 coronavirus cases a day, with a percent positivity rate of 6.4%. With just nine days until Christmas, city leaders are growing concerned about large gatherings.

The Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney reminded the city at a press conference that gatherings are only supposed to be 10 people with the governor’s new restrictions. That’s for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Dr. Melissa Viray, the Deputy Health Director for the City of Richmond, says we’re still feeling the effects of Thanksgiving.

“We might just be coming over the peak call, but given that we’re in the midst of the holiday season, we are very concerned about the impact that holiday gatherings are going to have on how many cases, how many infections we have, and what that means for our communities and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Viray.

Dr. Viray says hospitalizations have increased over the past several weeks. Looking ahead to Christmas, she says it’s best to limit the number of people you’re celebrating with and stay home. If you are going somewhere, she says you should prepare ahead of time.

“If you plan to travel or gather for the holidays try to stay home as much as you can away from other individuals for a full 14 days before that holiday gathering and for a full 14 days after. Get tested before and after that gathering,” she said.

Dr. Viray also gave an update on the vaccine, saying that frontline workers, especially those actively treating COVID-19 patients and those in long-term facilities, are the highest priority over the next few weeks.

“The healthcare system, the health district, and our select pharmacies will work to vaccinate individuals within those populations,” she said.

Dr. Viray says CVS and Walgreens will be partnering with long-term care facilities to go on-site and provide vaccines for those facilities and staff over the next few weeks.

If you are looking to get tested, there will be a free testing event Thursday at the Second Baptist Church on the Southside from 2-4 p.m. There will also be an event on Friday in Henrico County at the Regency Square parking deck from 10 a.m. until noon.

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