RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — Virginia health officials are gearing up for a post-holiday COVID-19 surge as cases of the omicron variant rise nationwide while Virginians return from traveling.
Coronavirus have been rapidly rising, with the Commonwealth seeing five of the 10 largest single-day case spikes of the entire pandemic over the last week:
- 5,972 new cases on Wednesday, Dec. 22 (eighth highest)
- 6,473 new cases on Thursday, Dec. 23 (sixth highest)
- 8,756 new cases on Friday, Dec. 24 (second highest)
- 8,609 new cases on Saturday, Dec. 25 (third highest)
- 5,432 new cases on Sunday, Dec. 26 (10th highest)
In addition, getting a COVID-19 test remains a struggle. High volume and long wait lines are an issue at urgent care facilities in Virginia like Patient First and Better Med. If you try to make an appointment for a COVID test in central Virginia, you’ll likely find there’s “no available times” until next week.
High demand and supply chain shortages are also making it difficult to find an at-home testing kit.
A new supply of testing kits delivered to the Carytown CVS were flying off the shelves on Monday, Dec. 27. Nearby, at the Carytown Walgreens, the store shelves were empty. WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, also found that Target is limiting sales of the tests.
“It definitely looks like we are starting into this post-holiday surge,” said Dr. Brandy Darby, a veterinary epidemiologist for the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
Darby says the VDH is preparing for the post-holiday spike.
“Our team of case investigators and contact tracers who are ready to man this surge as best we can,” she said.
However, according to Darby, not every exposure will be notified.
“What we are going to do is prioritize case investigation and contact tracing for high-risk situations, for example congregate living situations, like nursing homes,” explained Darby.
In the meantime, health officials say it might be a good idea to re-think those big New Year’s Eve parties amid the recent rise in cases.
“Maybe enjoying it close to home with a couple close friends or loved ones who are fully vaccinated, is the way to go,” Darby suggested.
- Get vaccinated and, if you’re eligible, get your booster dose.
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
- Gather outside or in well-ventilated areas, making sure to avoid crowds and poorly-ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially before and after preparing food.
- Stay six feet away from people who do not live with you
- Consider taking a COVID-19 test before gathering with others, especially if you plan to visit with people who are vulnerable or at high risk for severe illness if they develop COVID-19.
- The VDH continues to offer community testing events and is distributing free antigen test kits through a collaboration with 38 library systems across Virginia.
- The VDH also has a partnership with Walgreens pharmacies to offer free COVID-19 antigen tests, using Abbott BinaxNOW tests, at many stores across the Commonwealth, so visit the VDH testing locator, local health department websites, or pharmacy websites to find available tests and appointments.
Health officials also urge you to get tested if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms. If you feel sick and you can’t get a test, Darby says you should isolate to prevent further transmission.
Click here for more suggestions from the VDH about what to do if you suspect you were exposed to the coronavirus.