IW COVID-19 cases spike

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

By Stephen Faleski 

and Tracy Agnew

Staff Writers

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Many Isle of Wight County residents are concerned about the county’s disproportionately high number of cases, but unfortunately, there are no good explanations.

Confirmed cases in Isle of Wight nearly doubled from Monday to Tuesday, according to the Virginia Department of Health update on Tuesday. They now number 60 cases.

Data analysis shows Isle of Wight County’s number of cases per 100,000 residents is 159, the sixth-highest among more than 120 localities in the state.

The state as a whole averages 72 cases per 100,000 residents. Suffolk’s number of cases per 100,000 residents is 60. The number is 33 for Southampton County.

The only localities in the entire state outpacing Isle of Wight are Mecklenburg County, Harrisonburg City, and James City, Goochland and Arlington counties.

Dr. Todd Wagner, director of the Western Tidewater Health District, said he could not elaborate on a particular reason why Isle of Wight’s caseload seems to be higher than most other localities in the state.

Asked about the long-term care facility outbreaks, Wagner confirmed the district is tracking three outbreaks but could not give locations, facility names or other information.

“I cannot elaborate further on those outbreaks in terms of locations, names or correlation to a larger number of cases noted in a particular area,” he stated in an email Tuesday.

Wagner also rejected a suggestion that tests are more available in some areas of the district than others.

“There isn’t a particularly greater availability of testing in any particular area of the District,” he stated in the email. “Testing continues throughout the district in a variety of settings (hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers) and those tests are either performed at the state lab (DCLS), commercial lab (like LabCorp) or at hospital reference lab.” Wagner noted Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk currently has the testing capability.

He also said there was insufficient evidence to support a suggestion that Isle of Wight County has more cases because it includes “bedroom communities” for larger localities, such as the Peninsula, which has one of the worst outbreaks of community spread in the state.

“There has not been any current analysis performed within the district to look at this as we have simply been putting all of our efforts … toward looking at cases and contacts at this juncture,” Wagner stated.