Most IW COVID-19 cases in Windsor

Published 2:25 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2020

By Stephen Faleski

Staff writer


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About 51% of Isle of Wight County’s 112 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred in areas with a Windsor ZIP code, according to data the Virginia Department of Health released on Monday.

Dr. Todd Wagner, director of the VDH’s Western Tidewater Health District, said the department began releasing a breakdown of cases by ZIP code on Thursday. Previously, it had only been releasing statewide and countywide totals to the public, along with districtwide breakdowns of outbreaks by facility type – without specifying the name or location of those facilities.

According to Monday’s data, a total of 127 Windsor-area residents have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 58 have tested positive. That’s out of an estimated 2,700-plus residents living within Windsor’s town limits, plus another roughly 3,500 living in the unincorporated parts of the county with a 23487 ZIP code.

It remains unknown how many of these 58 cases are tied to an outbreak at Consulate Health Care, a 114-bed long-term care facility in Windsor. Though the VDH is still not disclosing which facilities are experiencing outbreaks, Consulate itself notified residents and their family members of an outbreak in April via a letter from its executive director, Gary James, which stated — without specifying the number of cases — that some residents and staff members had tested positive for the virus. The Smithfield Times obtained a copy of the letter from a family member of a resident, and last reported on the situation in late April.

In Smithfield, 258 people have been tested, and of those, just 27 have tested positive, accounting for 24% of the county’s total cases. That’s out of over 8,000 town residents, with another roughly 8,000-plus living at addresses outside the town limits that still have a 23430 ZIP code.

In Carrollton, 142 out of an estimated 7,000-plus residents have been tested, only seven of whom have tested positive. Countywide, the number of Isle of Wight residents tested to date stands between 554 and 830, according to the VDH’s ZIP code data, accounting for just 1% to 2% of its estimated 37,000-plus people. The exact figure is probably closer to the lower end of that range, as the higher figure includes data from the ZIP codes for Ivor, Zuni and Franklin, which extend beyond Isle of Wight’s borders into the city of Franklin and Southampton County.

Isle of Wight isn’t alone in its low percentage of residents tested. According to Johns Hopkins University, Virginia ranked third worst among the 50 states in a comparison of the number of COVID-19 tests per 100,000 residents each state has performed.

“I make no excuses for Virginia,” Gov. Ralph Northam said regarding the state’s low per-capita testing at a Monday afternoon press conference, that he believed the commonwealth was in a good place now.

Northam’s plan for reopening Virginia, phase one of which is set to begin Friday, calls for the testing of at least 10,000 individuals a day statewide. Northam assured the public on Monday that Virginia is close to meeting that goal, having tested 9,801 people on Sunday. VDH data is also showing a 14-day downward trend in those testing positive, he said, which had been another benchmark in his phased reopening plan.

“As has also been described at recent governor’s briefings, I do not believe it is necessarily testing capacity that is the issue as it is matching testing needs to where the testing capacity is,” Wagner said when asked about per capita testing in the Western Tidewater district. “For Western Tidewater, I do not think it has been an issue outside of the more rural parts of our district being a bit farther from the available testing facilities.”

“We are looking at solutions to assist in bringing additional capacity to the western portion of the region, namely the city of Franklin and Southampton County,” Wagner added.

As for the number of Isle of Wight’s cases tied to nursing homes, that data is supposed to be made public by the end of May. According to AARP, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued a regulation Thursday requiring the country’s 15,000 nursing homes to report their COVID-19 case totals to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control by May 17, which the agency plans to make public by the end of the month.