The Pittsylvania-Danville Health District’s COVID-19 death toll increased by one with Tuesday morning’s update from the Virginia Department of Health.
A Pittsylvania County man in his 70s became the last victim to die of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and the district-wide death count is now 202.
The health department updates its database by 10 a.m. daily based on information received by 5 p.m. the previous day. It also notes all data are preliminary and could change. That has happened when a death was listed in the incorrect locality.
Other than simple demographic details, very little is known when someone dies of COVID-19. The latest death likely happened weeks earlier because of a methodical process health officials use to verify a fatality was linked to COVID-19. The health department waits for the official death certificate, a process that often takes weeks or more.
There were 10 new cases of COVID-19 added in Danville and Pittsylvania County on Tuesday morning, bringing the 7-day rolling average to nine. That’s the lowest number of new infections reported since early July. However, that average is slightly tainted by negative figures. On Thursday, Danville’s caseload dipped to negative 10, meaning cases were moved from the city to another locality.
The health department is continuing a review process to ensure cases are slotted with the proper jurisdiction. In doing so, the 7-day average of new infections may not show the full picture of the pandemic.
Statewide, the daily average of new cases dipped below 1,400 on Tuesday morning, representing a slight decrease since the previous week. Still, that rate matched the number of cases in early November.
The local health district’s positivity rate stood at 6.5% Tuesday morning, also possibly impacted by shifting data. That’s just a nudge higher than the state’s rate of 6.3%. The figures represent the number of positive results against the overall tests administered. The current percentages are a vast improvement from January highs that reached 20% locally. That said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention likes to see the figures below 5% to show spread of the virus is under control in a community.
The number of COVID-19 tests given per day continues to drop. On Tuesday morning, the average was about 142, the lowest since early July. Health experts also feel a robust testing system — along with vaccines — is critical to controlling the pandemic, especially to catch people who are asymptomatic.
Vaccines continue to flow into the arms of Danville and Pittsylvania County residents, with about 30% of the population having received at least one dose. About 17.5% of residents in the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District are considered fully vaccinated.
On Monday, all local residents 16 and older became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by appointment only. For an appointment, a person must register by filling out information online at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. Sometime after, the person will be contacted by phone, email or text with information on making an appointment.
“Those with the highest risk will continue to receive priority in the scheduling process,” Dr. Scott Spillman, director of the local health district, said in a news release last week.
When going to a vaccination appointment, residents are encouraged by health officials to arrive no earlier than 10 minutes. Also, it’s advised to wear clothing that makes the upper arm easily accessible.
“In the meantime, it is important to remain vigilant in COVID-19 prevention,” the news release said. “Continue to protect yourself and others: cover your mouth and nose with a mask, wash your hands often, stay at least six feet away from others and avoid gatherings with anyone who is not a member of your household.”