By Callie Hietala
Both Henry County and Martinsville have seen a significant increase in vaccinations against COVID-19, health officials said.
“As of this morning, 87 percent of Virginians are vaccinated,” Nancy Bell, Public Information Officer for the West Piedmont Health District, said on Wednesday. “In Henry County and Martinsville, our numbers have gone up rather significantly.”
In Henry County, 40.9 percent of the population has been vaccinated, including 48.7 percent of adults. In Martinsville, 48.4 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated, including 62 percent of adults.
“That’s showing tremendous growth,” Bell said. “That translates to Martinsville having just over 6,000 fully vaccinate people and Henry County having nearly 21,000 vaccinated people. I’m delighted to have something positive to report.”
The region seems to be reaching a peak in active cases, she added.
On Wednesday, Bell reported that Henry County has 5,721 cases and 136 deaths. Martinsville had 1,868 cases. In the city, 85 people have lost their lives to COVID-19. “Those numbers are really hard to look at, really hard to share,” Bell said.
She said both localities currently have 19 outbreaks, which include five different COVID-19 variants.
The Virginia Department of Health is upping its testing, Bell said. The agency is hosting drive-through testing clinics Fridays from 3-7 p.m. at the National Guard Armory in Martinsville. Appointments are not needed.
“We will be doing those as long as there is a need,” Bell said, and added that during the first testing event on September 17, there was a 27 percent positivity rate among the 51 people tested.
The state department currently recommends testing for those who are showing symptoms or signs of the virus and those who have had close contact with someone who has or who is suspected of having COVID.
Those who are fully vaccinated should be tested 3-5 days after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and those who are not fully vaccinated should be tested immediately after an exposure and again 5-7 days after exposure if the first test was negative. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past three months and recovered do not need to get tested after exposure if there are no symptoms.
Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan, Chief Medical Officer with Sovah Health, said there are approximately 40 patients receiving treatment for COVID-19 across the Martinsville and Danville facilities. Of those, 90 percent are unvaccinated.
“A vaccine decreases your risk of death,” said Gunn-Nolan. “Decrease your risk of death from COVID-19 and get vaccinated. That’s a statement on behalf of every healthcare hero that is fighting and risking their lives to serve this community. I am hopeful in hearing that the vaccine numbers have continued to climb, but we are not there yet.”
To find a local vaccination site, visit vaccine.gov. To learn more about the status of COVID-19 in the state and in your community, visit vdh.virginia.gov.