Post-Thanksgiving virus surge hits IW

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A statewide post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 diagnoses has reached Isle of Wight County.

On Dec. 20, the county reported 37 additional cases, shattering its 27-case single-day record set April 14.

Unlike the prior record, which had coincided with the results of testing at a Windsor nursing home that had reported an outbreak, the latest surge doesn’t appear to be confined to a single facility. According to Dr. Lauren James, interim director of the Western Tidewater Health District, the 37 new cases correspond with “high transmission” within the Isle of Wight community and the greater Western Tidewater region “as well as the increase in cases post holidays.”

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The Western Tidewater Health District encompasses Isle of Wight County, Southampton County and the cities of Franklin and Suffolk.

Infectious disease experts had warned prior to the Nov. 26 Thanksgiving holiday that large gatherings of family and friends could lead to a surge in new cases in the weeks following. Virginia Department of Health data shows “mixing of groups and travel” during recent holidays has “also contributed” to the increase in cases, James said.

According to that data, as of Halloween night, Oct. 31, roughly 2.2% of all COVID-19 tests given to Isle of Wight residents were coming back positive. As of Dec. 17, Isle of Wight’s percent positivity had since climbed to 12.5% — having been trending upwards for a total of 52 days.

As of Dec. 21, Isle of Wight had seen 1,354 cumulative cases and 29 deaths since the pandemic began — meaning one in every 27 of the county’s roughly 37,000 residents has or has had COVID-19. There have also been 26 site-specific outbreaks throughout the health district to date.