Because she’s 79 and has cancer, Carol Fisher says she and her companion, 10 years her senior, did everything they could to prevent her from catching COVID-19.
This includes both vaccine doses and two booster shots, wearing masks in public and avoiding crowds. Her luck lasted until about two weeks ago, when she and companion Ralph Kulp both contracted the virus.
She had been to an emergency room for a different matter, and she believes she may have been exposed there because she was surrounded by sick people as she waited six hours for treatment. Masks were required, but many people took them off to blow their nose and cough, she said.
“Everyone thinks this virus is over,” she said. “Absolutely not. The emergency room and doctors’ offices are full of sick people.”
Case numbers continue to rise in the Rappahannock Area Health District, which includes Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. 987 new cases were reported in the last week, a 30% increase from the previous week.
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Six weeks ago, 222 new local cases were reported in one week.
The state changed the way it presented its COVID numbers in March after the last spike leveled off, and the RAHD began reporting weekly on Fridays on new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
As new cases increase, an increase in hospitalizations usually follows two to three weeks later. That wasn’t the case with the recent spate of cases that began in late March, said Mary Chamberlin, the health district’s public information officer.
“Hospitalizations have remained low,” she said. “This is a very promising sign – fewer people are suffering from serious illnesses that require hospitalization.”
According to Friday’s report, 17 patients were being treated for virus symptoms at Mary Washington Hospital, Stafford Hospital and Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center. That’s an increase from 14 COVID patients the week before.
However, the number of locals hospitalized with COVID-19 has not risen above 18 patients since March 18, according to RAHD.
A new death was reported on Friday.
Transmission levels, which were low throughout the Fredericksburg area, were classified as “moderate” risk in all locations except Caroline. And the health district positivity rate, which measures the rate of positive tests among all participants, continues to rise. It stood at 18% on Friday, the highest level since early winter.
As cases surge again across the region, state and nation, public health officials are calling for more protective measures.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended booster doses of the vaccine for children ages 5 and older. The CDC also reiterated its recommendation for second booster doses, saying that people 12 years and older who are immunocompromised or those 50 years and older should receive a second booster shot at least 4 months after receiving the first.
In a press release this week, the Virginia Department of Health also urged parents to speak to their children’s doctors about a booster shot — and those who are eligible for a second booster shot to discuss the matter with their caregivers to “ensure continued protection.” from serious illnesses,” said Christy Gray, the state’s immunization coordinator.
The AARP also stressed the need this week for second booster shots for nursing home residents and staff. Resident deaths had been falling across the state and nation through mid-April, but case numbers in facilities are rising again, as is the general public.
“The numbers show that another wave of COVID-19 is coming and gaining momentum,” said David DeBiasi, state advocacy director of AARP Virginia. “Booster doses for care home residents and staff are an important line of defense in protecting this vulnerable population. It’s critical that we empower these people as this new wave of the virus emerges.”
The CDC also updated its guidance as the summer travel season began. It recommends that all people traveling to the United States be tested for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before departure, regardless of their vaccination status. Travelers should also test on return if they were at high risk of exposure, e.g. B. Time in crowds without a mask.
The advice applies to all travelers, vaccinated or unvaccinated, according to the CDC.
In recent days, RAHD’s call center has received many requests from people wanting letters stating they have tested negative for COVID and are safe to travel, Chamberlin said. The health district can only issue a letter if the person has received a PCR test — the type where results take two to three days — because those results are included in the Virginia Electronic Disease Surveillance System, she said.
The health district cannot issue letters to people who receive negative home test results. Medical offices and emergency services may be able to provide the letters for the tests they administer, but those interested should check with the care providers.
While Chamberlin remains heartened by the low number of hospital admissions, she reminded residents that people who contract COVID are still impacted even if they don’t end up in the hospital.
Fisher, the 79-year-old, would confirm that. Although she and Kulp have had relatively mild cases, extreme fatigue has sidelined her – and she’s happy to keep busy despite her health struggles.
“Coping with age and exhaustion makes you so weak and tired and all you want to do is sleep and sleep and sleep,” she said, noting that her symptoms came on suddenly and she had to cancel six different doctor’s appointments. and a weekend getaway – because of her infections.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
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