COVID-19 rates skyrocketing in Lynchburg as VDH data reports ‘high transmission level’ in the city


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Lynchburg is dealing with some of the highest rates of coronavirus infections in the Commonwealth, soaring past the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) qualifications for a “high transmission level.”

According to the VDH, a locality is considered to have a high community transmission level if the locality has more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people and/or a percent positivity rate of at least 10 percent.

Meanwhile, as of Monday, Sept. 13, the VDH says Lynchburg is reporting 1,112 new cases per 100,000 people — making it one of only a couple localities to surpass 1,000 new cases per 100,000 people — and an 18.4 percent positivity rate within the previous seven days.

However, not only is Lynchburg at high risk for transmission, but so are its neighboring localities: Bedford County, Amherst County, and Campbell County.

In response to the constant increase in positive COVID-19 cases and that impact on the community, representatives from the City of Lynchburg, Lynchburg City Schools, Centra Health, and the VDH have scheduled a joint press conference for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15. You can watch that briefing live on, on the WFXR News Facebook page, or on the WFXR News app.

According to Mayor Maryjane Dolan, “People have gotten a little more cavalier, a little more laid back about social distancing, and a big issue is the delta variant.”

As of Tuesday, Sept. 14, the VDH says Lynchburg has reported nearly 9,900 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

In addition, the city reported its two largest single-day case spikes ever last week — with 217 new cases on Thursday, Sept. 9 and 289 new cases on Friday, Sept. 10 — and has a seven-day average of 128 new cases reported each day.

Dolan says the biggest concerns are the delta variant affecting children and how another spike in cases could impact daily life.

“More than 25 percent of the cases now are little children,” said Dolan. “That’s a concern for us. And a big concern for us is ‘can the businesses stay open?’ ‘Can the schools stay open?'”

When it comes to schools, Dolan says she’d like to see Liberty University adopt stricter protocols when it comes to masks and vaccinations.

“I think it’s an issue for our community because it will affect the health and standard that runs within our community,” the Lynchburg mayor said.

Liberty University student Kristi Stoneking was at MedExpress Tuesday afternoon on Linkhorne Drive. She says she’s seeing long lines at urgent care centers.

“I’ve been waiting for about two and a half hours. I came because my roommate tested positive a couple of days ago and her quarantine actually ends today, but I’m just trying to get back on campus.”

According to MedExpress, the facility is facing an increased demand for coronavirus testing in Lynchburg, but staff members are seeing as many patients as they can.

“I think definitely, people need to get vaccinated. At first, I was against it. I was kind of suspicious of it,” said Stoneking. “But if you do your research, you realize it’s actually more benefits than harm.”

Part of Dolan’s message at Wednesday morning’s news conference at the Lynchburg City Hall will be the significance of getting people vaccinated and taking the spread of COVID-19 seriously.

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