UPDATE 11:06 p.m.: No one was allowed to sit-in on the Coronavirus: A Community Discussion, not even press. The reason being was to keep to the ten person limit.

To put things plainly, Southwest Virginia is not as bad as other parts of the country, but we need to keep up our newly developed habits of social distancing and self-quarantining to help ensure we keep our area’s curve as flat as possible.

“There is no way to prevent the spread of this other than the measures we have been enforcing, which is social distancing,” said Dr. Molly O’Dell with the Virginia Department of Health.

Virginia has been one of the more agressive states in enforcing social distancing, closing of businesses, and stay-at-home orders. Medical professionals at the town hall said though this has been a hard adjustment, we can’t lighten up now.

“These types of limitations in personal contact are what’s going to decrease that surge, potentially delay the surge, that keeps our local medical facilities from being overwhelmed like they are in different parts of the country,” said Dr. Thomas Martin with the Salem VA Medical Center.

It’s true. The medical facilities in Southwest Virginia are not overwhelmed. The experts say if those with the virus practice proper self-quarantining, more than half of patients probably won’t have to go to a hospital at all.

“Probably about 20% of people who are infected with this virus will have the more serious disease that might need hospitalization,” said Dr. Paul Skolnik with Carilion Clinic. “The rest, we can usually care for at home, over time.”

As much are our country has seen with the Coronavirus, medical models say we’re not out of the woods just yet.

“It’s safe to say that we are going to get an increase in the number of patients that we’re seeing at our facilities, and for that we have to prepare,” said Dr. Carnell Cooper with LewsGale Medical Center.

As for tests and vaccines, tests will come first. It’s taken this long to develop a fast-acting test because the it is a specific strain of Coronavirus doctors are looking for.

For vaccines, several of the doctors in the town hall said a timeline for that usually takes 12 to 18 months. The hope is by the time we reach this time next year we have a more immune population and a vaccine for those who aren’t.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Tonight at 7 p.m., clinicians from the Virginia Department of Health, Carilion Clinic, LewisGale Medical Center and the Salem VA Medical Center are partnering to host a panel discussion on COVID-19, “Coronavirus: A Community Conversation.”

Panelists will answer questions from the public submitted over the last several days. Topics include:

  • A situational brief for the region and health systems
  • What people need to do
  • How community members can plan and help

The hour-long event will be aired live on all five regional television network affiliates (WDBJ, WFXR, WSET, WSLS and PBS Blue Ridge) and three regional radio stations (WFIR, WVTF and WLNI). Partners will also provide digital access through their online streaming services.

Watch the special LIVE at 7 p.m. here in this story and on WFXR-TV 27.1 and 21.2.

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