LYNCHBURG — Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of Nelson County residents fighting to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus has formed.
Dubbed Stop the Virus, the group is dedicated to helping the community understand how preventative measures can lower infection rates, as well as to opening businesses and schools, a news release from the group states.
The group also will work to encourage people to register for vaccinations as an effective means to prevent further spread of the virus.
“I found myself leaving the county to patronize businesses that observed safe COVID practices. I thought that if many did this, it couldn’t be good for the county’s economy and, really, how hard is it to wear a mask? Use your mask to make a statement, sure, but keep yourself and others safe,” Al Weed, the group’s organizer and a Lovingston-area winery owner, said in the release.
The organization will focus on informing the public through Facebook groups, letters to the editor and other means.
As of Sunday, the Blue Ridge Health District website showed Nelson County has reported 819 cases since the onset of the pandemic, which is roughly double the number of cases since Jan. 1. Total hospitalizations and deaths in the county stood at 34 and 10, respectively.
According to the Virginia Department of Health website, 5,058 people — about a third of the county’s population — have been vaccinated in the county, with 1,763 being fully vaccinated.
Peggy Whitehead, a former executive director of the Blue Ridge Medical Center and a member of the newly formed group, said in the release that the fastest way to beat the virus is to wear masks, frequently wash hands, follow social distancing guidelines and get vaccinated.
“In these ways, we are showing love and respect for our fellow Nelsonians and aggressively pushing ourselves towards no new infections,” Whitehead said.
Blue Ridge Health District spokeswoman Kathryn Goodman said in a Feb. 23 email that officials hope to bring vaccination clinics to every health district locality at least once per week. Clinics also might become more frequent as vaccine supplies increase, she said.
To register for clinics through the Blue Ridge Health District, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov.