(WFXR) – Over the past week, health officials say the number of COVID-related hospitalizations in the region known as “near Southwest Virginia” increased by nine, bringing the total number of confirmed and pending virus patients up from 544 to 553 as of Wednesday.

This includes patients at Carilion Clinic, Centra, LewisGale, Sovah Health and the Salem VA Medical Center.

In the last week, local health officials reported three more COVID patients in these hospitals and six more patients under investigation while awaiting coronavirus results. The number of virus patients in the ICU increased by seven.

This news comes as the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 11,126 new coronavirus cases and 131 new virus-related hospitalizations on Wednesday, Jan. 26. There were also 50 new virus-related deaths since Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Below are the last five weeks of reports from the “Near Southwest Virginia” region.

As of Jan. 26, 2022:

  • Hospitalized COVID-19 patients: 538
    • ICU patients: 116
  • Hospitalized PUIs (patients under investigation awaiting results): 15

As of Jan. 21, 2022:

  • Hospitalized COVID-19 patients: 535
    • ICU patients: 109
  • Hospitalized PUIs (patients under investigation awaiting results): Nine

As of Jan. 14, 2022:

  • Hospitalized COVID-19 patients: 499
    • ICU patients: 117
  • Hospitalized PUIs (patients under investigation awaiting results): Five

As of Jan. 7, 2022:

  • Hospitalized COVID-19 patients: 404
    • ICU patients: 104
  • Hospitalized PUIs (patients under investigation awaiting results): Five

As of Dec. 31, 2021:

  • Hospitalized COVID-19 patients: 348
    • ICU patients: 101
  • Hospitalized PUIs (patients under investigation awaiting results): Six

Also, the hospitals in the “Near Southwest Virginia” region issued a joint statement as the ongoing COVID-19 surge is continuing saying, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“In the face of a record uptick in COVID-19 cases and community spread, our regional health systems are partnering to share a joint public service announcement featuring real voices from the frontlines. These are your providers, your neighbors, your friends.

Two years into this pandemic, COVID-19 is still a major threat to our community. We’re treating more hospitalized COVID-19 patients than we ever have – the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. In addition to treating preventable illness, this takes beds and resources away from other sick patients who desperately need that scarce resource.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Our communities can take action and slow the spread of the virus. This most recent wave of COVID infections has tested our region’s emergency departments, strained our health care workers and filled hospital beds. The public knows our message – wear a mask, wash your hands, stay socially distant, get your vaccine and booster – and we hope these PSAs featuring real frontline voices will act as a reminder that our teams are still here, and they still need your help.

We want to thank the hundreds of thousands of people in our community who received a vaccination and booster. You have helped to lessen the burden on our health care workers.

For those still considering the vaccine, please talk to your trusted health care provider to answer any questions. The simple act of getting a shot will go a long way in helping those who are here to care for you.

Joint statement released on Jan. 26, 2022 by Carilion Clinic, Centra Health, LewisGale Regional Health System, Sovah Health, and the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Editor’s Note: WFXR News originally said that the VDH reported 16,052 new COVID-19 cases and 131 new virus-related hospitalizations on Tuesday instead of 11,126 new cases and 131 new virus-related hospitalizations on Wednesday. This has since been corrected.