‘Slow slope uphill, but not a spike’: Dr. Molly O’Dell with Roanoke City, Alleghany Health Districts discusses local COVID-19 response


UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: Dr. Molly O’Dell says the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are seeing an increase in the average number of coronavirus cases per week, but she says it is more of a gradual rise than a spike.

According to Dr. O’Dell, there are currently 328 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 among 192 females and 136 males; 63 active cases; 21 virus-related deaths, and eight active outbreaks in various stages the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts split among the following localities:

  • Roanoke City: 162 cases, 12 deaths
  • Roanoke County: 78 cases, 2 deaths
  • Salem- 40 cases, 2 deaths
  • Botetourt County: 31 cases, 3 deaths
  • Alleghany County: 8 cases, 2 deaths
  • Craig County: 6 cases
  • Covington: 3 cases

Dr. O’Dell says these coronavirus patients range from eight months to 99 years in age, and that Hispanics made up 12% of COVID-19 patients this week. In addition, 67% of the cases are outbreak-related while 33% are travel-related or through family members.

In the past, Dr. O’Dell says the health districts saw an average of 20 cases a week in the past, but now the average is up to 30 cases a week.

PTR testing availability is increasing at places such as Walmart, but Dr. O’Dell says she would like more testing in congregant living situations and communities where there have been a lot of cases.

“Everybody needs more resources,” Dr. O’Dell says

Health officials are pushing to hire more contact tracers and disease investigators, saying that training for contact tracers will lead to regional testing. Fortunately, southwest Virginia is expected to bring on about 200 new contact tracers with training starting as early as next week, according to Dr. O’Dell.

Dr. O’Dell says that cases are not decreasing yet and asks residents to modify their behavior. In addition, even though testing can only reveal the status of the coronavirus situation at that time, she says that the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are still following a “slow slope uphill, but not a spike” in cases.

Fortunately, Dr. O’Dell says hospitals are not facing any problems handling cases.

While there are COVID-19 cases involving children, Dr. O’Dell does not believe any children have been hospitalized because of the virus. In addition, while there are no confirmed cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) in the area, she says health officials are continuing to monitor the situation. but have no confirmed cases in area.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Dr. Molly O’Dell, the director of communicable disease control for the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, will hold a virtual COVID-19 briefing at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19.

Watch the briefing on WFXRtv.com and the WFXR News app.

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