Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield reach ‘high’ levels of COVID-19 transmission

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Coronavirus cases are making a comeback in Central Virginia.

Another 2,600 new cases were reported in Virginia in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate is also climbing, reaching 19%, and 586 Virginians are in the hospital with the virus.

The number of deaths will be skewed for two weeks due to a blackout period where the CDC will not be returning death certificates submitted by states for coding purposes.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all learned to expect the unexpected.

Even after a widespread availability of vaccines and booster shots, the city of Richmond, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County are now seeing levels of high community transmission, according to the CDC.

“We’re seeing a predominance of the latest variant, which is Omicron, or BA-2, that’s having the majority of the community transmission,” VCU Health Infectious Disease expert Dr. Gonzalo Bearman said.

While many people were eager to get their first round of shots, there’s been a hesitance towards the booster.

“In Richmond, it’s about a third of people are boosted, 32.7%, and in Henrico, it’s 39.5%,” said Cat Long with the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts.

Dr. Jake O’Shea, the chief medical officer of HCA, says boosters are more important for people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“People over the age of 50 or 65, depending on which number you look at, people with other medical problems, people that are immunocompromised, they absolutely need to get a booster,” Dr. O’Shea said. “Other people have to weigh their own risks and benefits.”

It may seem odd to have a surge so close to summer, but Dr. O’Shea says we need to learn how to live with the virus.

Others predict transmission levels could vary by season, similar to the flu.

“I think the reality is that COVID-19 is not going away. It’s going to be with us for quite some time as we make this pivot from a pandemic disease to an endemic, meaning kind of part of everyday life,” Dr. O’Shea said.

While doctors are concerned about the unvaccinated, the Omicron variant does not pose as big a threat to those who got their shot.

“What I am optimistic about is really the infections we are seeing, they tend to be milder, and there tends to be fewer hospitalizations, and that’s really good,” Dr. Bearman said. “That’s really a testament to the importance of vaccines, kind of the collective immunity.”

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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