COVID-19 cases stable in Richmond area following summer holidays

Health experts are keeping an eye on COVID-19 cases, following Independence Day celebrations as many of us got together with friends or family for the holiday.
Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 6:21 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Health experts are monitoring COVID-19 cases following Independence Day celebrations as many of us got together with friends or family for the holiday.

While you may be hearing stories about more infections, doctors say they have not seen that spike in their case counts up to this point. They say that’s thanks to people being outside more and because so many people have already been exposed to the virus or received their booster.

“That bivalent booster is one of our main mitigation measures that helps keep community transmission low and personal risk low,” Richmond and Henrico Health Districts’ COVID-19 epidemiologist Emily Rich said.

Rich says right now, most indicators of COVID-19 remain fairly stable and low, as she’s not seeing a particular increase in new cases or urgent care visits. Though she says, hospital admissions are starting to creep up.

“We have lost some of our data points with COVID-19. A lot of people are testing at home,” Rich said. “A lot of people are not seeking care at this point in time, so we’ll have to watch and see if anybody gets severely ill with COVID-19, and that does tend to be our higher-risk populations.”

She says the warmer weather appears to help with the cases, and COVID could become like other respiratory illnesses, where its cases go down in the summer.

In the past, COVID had spikes in each season and was a year-long illness.

“Such as flu, such as RSV, those really do thrive in the seasons when people are indoors. So it is definitely possible that we could see lower transmission in the summers as a more general trend in the future,” Rich said.

Rich recommends getting tested 5 days after a family gathering. If you are high-risk and were around a lot of people or just near someone who was sick. She also says now is a good time to get up to date on your booster so you are prepared for any illness ahead.

”There seems to be a lot of discussion and speculation around the possibility of a yearly COVID-19 vaccine, similar to how we do a yearly flu shot. So, I would expect that to be something that we’re hearing more about in the fall,” Rich said.

Experts say to be on the lookout for updated booster information from the CDC.

Right now, the protocol is still just one bivalent shot, even if you had yours in the fall when it came out.