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Area COVID-19 cases still on the rise

Prince Edward County is still seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College experiencing 60 new coronavirus cases in the last week.

H. Robert Nash

Last Wednesday, Oct. 7, Longwood had 61 cumulative cases of the virus between students and staff, with 11 active cases. As of this Wednesday, Oct. 14, the total number of cases had jumped to 95, with 39 active cases. That’s 34 new cases in one week.

Hampden-Sydney had 58 total cases of the virus between students and faculty last week and 18 active cases. This Wednesday the total number of cases had risen to 84, with 26 active cases in the campus population. The college’s numbers have increased by 26.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Prince Edward saw 58 new coronavirus cases between Oct. 7 and Oct. 14, putting the county’s cumulative case total at 683.

Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash said Wednesday afternoon the district had identified between 18 and 19 cases between the two institutions of higher learning this week.

He added cases in Prince Edward this week have been spread out across different parts of the county, and the age range has been wide, with COVID patients this week ranging from 4 to 89 years old.

Nash highlighted his impression that part of the county’s jump in cases could be attributed to informal social gatherings rather than sanctioned events.

“It’s just folks wanting to get together and have a cookout Friday night together or have Sunday dinner together in their home, and then it spreads insidiously throughout the whole county like that,” he said.

Across the district, Nash said coronavirus cases in school-age children are on the rise, with 15 pediatric cases between the ages of birth and 17 identified since Oct. 6.

He added some cases of community spread seen last week in Buckingham and Charlotte counties are slowing down, and Cumberland County has continued to do well. Buckingham has increased by 11 cases this week. Charlotte saw 38 new cases and Cumberland County rose by two cases.

Nash said residents should keep in mind that as lower temperatures make their way to the commonwealth, the potential for virus spread increases.

“As the weather gets colder, folks are going to aggregate and huddle indoors more, and that will potentiate the spread of this from person to person,” he said. “It’s just the nature of the virus.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines/tips Wednesday, Oct. 14, on how to safely take part in holiday events during the pandemic. To read more about virus mitigation and holiday gatherings, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.