WATCH: Dr. Molly O’Dell says COVID-19 cases still rising in Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts


UPDATE 1:22 p.m.: During Tuesday’s virtual coronavirus briefing, Dr. Molly O’Dell with the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts announced that while local cases are still climbing up, the increase is not quite as steep as before.

Dr. O’Dell says Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts have seen a total of 1,936 COVID-19 cases — 1,024 of which are female, 912 are male, and 264 are currently active — and 27 total deaths as of Tuesday, July 28. Of those totals, Dr. O’Dell says there are 74 cases and one new death.

As for the breakdown of cases between localities, Dr. O’Dell offered the following data, which may differ from that reported by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH)’s daily coronavirus dashboard due to a lag time between local and state reporting:

  • 56 confirmed cases in Alleghany County
  • 183 confirmed cases in Botetourt County
  • 15 confirmed cases in Covington
  • 16 confirmed cases in Craig County
  • 503 confirmed cases in Roanoke County
  • 103 confirmed cases in Salem
  • 1,028 confirmed cases in Roanoke City

In addition, according to Dr. O’Dell, there are 32 cases from unknown localities.

However, the source of the virus is not unknown, Dr. O’Dell says. She says these cases are either the contacts of cases related to infected families or related to the following 12 outbreaks:

  • Two long-term care facilities
  • Four work sites that are not restaurants
  • Two restaurants
  • One healthcare facility
  • One congregate living
  • One related to a funeral
  • One related to the spike in cases at Myrtle Beach

Dr. O’Dell says they have not seen any cases linked to specific demonstrations or protests within the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.

The number of hospitalizations is steady at 26, but Dr. O’Dell says reporting that number can be tricky because sometimes people from outside the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts will end up in hospitals within the districts.

In addition, with regard to concerns that people can contract the coronavirus more than once, Dr. O’Dell says they have seen two cases where people who were ill and infected with the virus managed to completely recover, but then more than three months later, tested positive again even though they were asymptomatic. According to Dr. O’Dell, the CDC recommends health officials count these situations — which are very rare — as reinfections rather than as second cases. However, health officials will still conduct a new contact investigation if a certain amount of time has passed since the initial infection.

According to Dr. O’Dell, VDH has good enough metrics that enable officials to look at localities, regions, and the overall state in an equitable fashion, thus allowing them enough information to make a reasonable decision about future plans for reopening. However, with regard to schools, due to the fluctuating nature of the virus, Dr. O’Dell says reopening plans at this time is difficult because the data and health recommendations cited in July may be irrelevant come September.

Whether inside a restaurant or outdoors, Dr. O’Dell emphasizes the importance of continuing to practice social distancing and wear face masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

“As we have progressed through the phase, coupled with people becoming fatigued with the chore of social distancing, hygiene, and the use of face coverings, cases have gone up,” said Dr. O’Dell.

Whether discussing a positive coronavirus case at a school or a workplace, Dr. O’Dell says investigators will not identify classmates or coworkers as close contacts if the environment they shared with infected patient allows the patient to remain at least six feet away from others or only keeps them within six feet of others for less than 15 minutes.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Dr. Molly O’Dell, the director of communicable disease control for the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, is set to discuss the current state of the coronavirus pandemic during a virtual briefing Tuesday morning.

Dr. O’Dell’s virtual coronavirus briefing is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 28.

You can watch the briefing live here on or on the WFXR News app.

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