The Blue Ridge Health District plans to open up COVID-19 vaccination to phase 2 recipients by early next week.
Dr. Denise Bonds, director of the health district, said in a presentation at Monday’s Charlottesville City Council meeting that the move to phase 2 is in accordance with an order from Gov. Ralph Northam.
Charlottesville has experienced a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases, Bonds said at the council meeting.
“We have a little bit of an uptick recently. It’s been relatively mild, in comparison to some of our earlier surges,” she said.
She said the rise in cases mirrors what is being reported statewide and across the country.
Bonds said the Blue Ridge Health District has had 14,652 cases as of April 5, in comparison with her last update on March 1, which reported 13,255 cases. The city of Charlottesville has had 3,890 total cases. These numbers reflect the rates of COVID-19 starting in March 2020.
“We continue to see overrepresentation in both hospitalizations and in fatalities amongst communities of color. … 30% of our hospitalizations have been individuals who are Black or African American, and an additional 11% are individuals who are Latino or Hispanic,” Bonds said.
Bonds said the district has a total of 576 hospitalizations, in comparison with 513 in her March 1 update, 99 of those being in Charlottesville. She said there have been 204 total fatalities in the district, and at least 55 of those were city residents.
Bonds said 22% of fatalities in the district were among Black or African American residents, and 2% were among Latino or Hispanic residents.
“All our outbreaks right now are either pending closure or closed at this point in time, so that’s a great thing,” she said.
Bonds said the district’s percent positivity rates have remained very low, at 2.7%, but that it is important to note that this is just a ratio and that the rate is low partially because the University of Virginia performs such a large number of PCR tests of its students on a regular basis.
“What we see is a very large denominator in comparison to our numerator,” Bonds said. “But because of that large amount of testing of individuals who are otherwise healthy and asymptomatic, we end up with this somewhat artificially low positivity rate.”
Regarding the move to phase 2 of vaccinations, Bonds said, “We are really encouraging individuals in our community who belong to 1a, 1b and 1c categories that desire vaccination but have not yet gotten vaccinated to please reach out to us at our Blue Ridge area hotline.”
That number is (434) 972-6261 and is operational from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Bonds said the district has pulled all of the names from the pre-registration list, but that some people have missed their email invitation from the CDC because it has ended up in email spam filters.
“If you belong to one of these three groups and you have not yet received your invitation but did pre-register, either through the health district before or the Vaccinate Virginia website, that you please reach out to us and we’ll make sure that we can get you scheduled this week to get a vaccination,” Bonds said.