Masking advice returns for Tidewater in COVID-19 updates

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, August 4, 2022

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As COVID-19 has begun to ramp up again in some Virginia localities, Tidewater communities are between low and medium community levels.

Residents of Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties are urged to wear a mask if experiencing symptoms, tested positive, exposed to someone with coronavirus and on public transportation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Amal Patel, Western Tidewater health district epidemiologist, urges people to stay up to date on vaccinations and monitor the community level of transmission.

“Masks may offer some protection against COVID-19, which includes the Omicron variant,” said Patel.

Isle of Wight and the City of Franklin each have low community levels, according to the CDC. 

Through July 28 there have been 76 cases over a rolling seven-day period, less than 10 deaths and three hospitalizations through July 27 in Isle of Wight. More than half of the estimated county population, 37,109, is either fully vaccinated, 19,346, or received one dose, 22,861, according to the CDC.

The City of Franklin has seen a total of 18 cases and less than 10 deaths through July 28. There has only been one hospitalization through July 27. The city is home to 3,683 people who have received at least one dose and 3,058 fully vaccinated residents.

The community level for Southampton County stands at medium, but the recommendations are the same as a low level locality except for the higher risk population.

People at risk of severe illness include adults over the age of 65, people with certain chronic health conditions, people who live in congregate settings, people who have a weakened immune system, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

“If you are at high risk for severe illness, consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions,” CDC officials stated.

Dr. Lisa Thanjan, a member of the Health Information Team in the Office of Epidemiology at The Virginia Department of Health, said they have better information and treatment to fight the virus. 

Severe illness from COVID-19 means that an individual may need more intensive care such as hospitalization, a ventilator to help you breathe or that the person may die as a result of the infection, according to the VDH. Those who suffer from severe illness as a result of coronavirus may be eligible for treatment. 

Treatments for mild to moderate illness include Lagevrio, Bebtelovimab, Paxlovid and Monoclonal antibody treatment. Each of these are under the emergency use authorization.

If advised by a healthcare provider to receive a treatment for COVID-19, residents can search the COVID-19 treatments locator to find the nearest treatment site.

These medications are often covered by insurance, but the person may be responsible for a co-pay or administration fee at the treatment site. People who are under or uninsured can call their local health department to locate a nearby Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or Free Clinic for access to COVID-19 treatment.

There have been a total of 81 cases over the rolling seven day period and less than 10 deaths through July 28 in South Hampton, according to the CDC. Two cases have resulted in hospital admission through July 27.

The estimated population for the county is about 17,631. Of the 17,00 residents, 6,587 people are completely vaccinated and 8,009 have received at least one dose.

Free COVID-19 PCR testing is offered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays at the Franklin City Health Department parking lot. The next scheduled event is Wednesday, Aug. 3.