Those who have evaded any symptoms of COVID-19 are running into situations where the virus is still affecting their daily activities. Many have found the doors locked at area retail establishments because of staffing problems.
Shoppers at Dollar General on Main Street just north of Floyd found a handwritten sign on the door late Monday afternoon, announcing the store was closed because of illness of staff. The store had closed early on Saturday night as well.
Those attempting to use the drive-through at Hardees found the lights off and a cone blocking the entrance in the afternoon Sunday. The fast-food franchise is often closed early on evenings. Not enough staff.
Virginia saw more than 7,700 new infections of COVID-19 over the weekend, along with 202 more hospitalizations and 102 deaths. In our area, the Virginia Department of Health reported three new deaths each in both Montgomery and Giles County, plus others in Franklin, Pulaski and Roanoke counties and the city of Galax.
The problems in our area contrast with a 22% drop in new cases and a drop 12% decline in deaths nationwide.
The summer surge of U.S. coronavirus cases has started to ebb after exposing the grave danger the virus still poses in areas where large swaths of the population lack immunity.
A nationwide decline in new infections and hospitalizations is fueled by sharp drops in Southern states that were hit hard by the highly contagious delta variant. Hospital admissions nationwide crested above a weekly average of 100,000 in early September and are still at levels not seen since the winter, before vaccines were widely available. New infections plateaued in the first half of September, averaging above 150,000 daily, and are now on track to slip below 100,000.
But more people infected in the latest surge are expected to die in the days and weeks ahead, with the death toll on the brink of surpassing 700,000 — roughly equivalent to the population of the District of Columbia. The country has already hit the grim milestone of losing 1 in 500 residents to the virus.
In places like Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolinas, the latest wave appears to be following a similar pattern of a sharp spike followed by steep plunge seen in the United Kingdom, India and other places battered by delta. Epidemiologists say this pattern suggests the virus is rapidly burning through pockets of unvaccinated people before hitting a wall.
In Virginia, VDH reports 60.6% of the state has been “fully vaccinated.” In Floyd County, less than half of our residents — 44.3%, are completely vaccinated. The number of “adults age 18 or over” is a little higher — 52.6 percent.
The bottom line is that, in gathering while shopping or while dancing at one of our music ventures, the chance that someone you don’t know is not protected is probably 1 in two people.
That’s why you might not find a Dollar General, Hardees or other location open when you stop by on the way home tonight. It’s also why those seeking health care at our local Carilion location are increasingly being told to connect online for a “video consultation” instead of seeing a doctor in person.