Just 13 months ago, Floyd County’s total cases of COVID-19 stood at 20. It tripped five-fold to 100 in August 2020 now stands just 15 short of 1,000 infections, a number it could easily reach this weekend.
In Virginia, the total number of cases stood at 119,747 cases on Aug. 30, 2020. By Jan. 17 of this year, the total stood at 435,309 and the Old Dominion added 9,914 the day before. Floyd County’s total was 623 with 12 new cases added the day before.
With vaccinations in full swing, the daily case for Virginia was 76 with deaths in single digits as Memorial Day approached this year. Total cases in the Commonwealth were 673,105 with 11,116 deaths. Floyd County had 874 total cases, with one new case that day.
Today, the total number of cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health is 731,287 with 2,764 new cases. Floyd’s total cases now has 985 total cases, with five new infections.
“There’s only one way out of this pandemic, and that is for people to get vaccinated,” Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, tells The Roanoke Times.
“We have control over our future,” she added during her weekly press briefing Tuesday. “We have the power to change the trajectory if people get vaccinated and people do those things we need to do: wear masks, social distance and wash your hands.”
According to Virginia Department of Health data, as of Friday, more than 97% of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 — and more than 98% of those who have died from it — were not fully vaccinated.
Local vaccination rates are improving, “slowly but surely,” Morrow said, with about 3,500 doses administered in the last week compared to about 2,500 two weeks prior.
But of the seven communities covered by the neighboring health districts, only one — Roanoke County — has reached the 70% benchmark for vaccinations among adults.
Meanwhile, nearly every part of Virginia is experiencing substantial to high spread of the virus, as the ultra-infectious delta variant has risen to become the dominant strain circulating.
“Examining numerous cohorts through the end of July and early August, three points are now very clear,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky told a White House covid-19 news briefing Wednesday. “First, vaccine-induced protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time. Second, vaccine effectiveness against severe disease, hospitalization and death remains relatively high. And third, vaccine effectiveness is generally decreased against the delta variant.”
Vaccines, experts are learning, have their limits.
“As we’re releasing the brakes on these other non-pharmaceutical interventions” — [meaning masks and other precautions] — “we may see more cases,” Infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto Maria Sundaram tells The Washington Post. “Vaccines are very, very helpful, but they’re not the end-all, be-all of Covid-19 prevention.”
Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy warns:
Our anticipation is that if the trajectory that we are seeing continues, that we will likely see in the future an increase in breakthrough hospitalizations and breakthrough deaths. And that’s why we use our judgment to see when to make a determination when that point may be. And that’s how we came to the eight-month mark.
Jesse Goodman, former chief scientist at the FDA and professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Georgetown, said he suspects that boosters will be needed and added, “being prepared for a booster campaign makes sense.” But he said it was important for the administration to avoid putting “the cart before the horse.”
Goodman added that it was repeatedly said in the Covid-19 briefing that normal processes would prevail, “but I think it puts that process under a date-certain kind of pressure.”
This means our fight is long from over.