WATCH: Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts director implores public to follow COVID-19 guidelines as new cases increase


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Cases of coronavirus continue to rise in the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts and now its director has a message for you: stay home if you are sick, practice physical distancing, and practice good hand hygiene.

The plea from Dr. Cynthia Morrow, health director for the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, comes as hospitals are nearing capacity and deaths from coronavirus are expected to rise. There have been 5,127 total cases since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the region, with 180 current cases. Of those, 160 active cases are in Roanoke City.

“We currently have 78 people hospitalized with COVID,” Morrow said, adding that 40 hospitalizations are Roanoke City residents and 38 are Alleghany Health District residents. “We are receiving new reports of deaths. Those numbers are expected to increase significantly at our next count. We are currently investigating quite a few additional deaths, some associated with long-term care facilities.”

Of the hospitalizations, Carilion currently has 39 patients while LewisGale has the majority of the remaining patients. Capacity for hospitals in southwest Virginia is currently 85.7%.

Sixty-three new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours and the numbers will continue to climb, Morrow said, unless the community takes action to prevent the spread.

The health director also said there has been difficulty due to the public not cooperating with contact tracers when they call. Often, the tracers will call from numbers with non-local area codes. These may include the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas. Morrow said it is important to answer your phone and cooperate if a contact tracer calls you. She added that it is important, as well, for people diagnosed with COVID-19 to be preemptive and call friends and family as soon as you know you are sick so they, too, can quarantine and get tested, if a doctor deems it necessary.

Dr. Molly O’Dell, communicable disease director for the health districts, said Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will be deployed to polling sites where assistance has been requested to ensure safe voting. She added that people should stay away from large gatherings, including family gatherings, and ask before each action whether it is a preventative action to stop the spread of COVID-19 or if it could lead to more cases.

She also noted the release of a new jingle recorded by the Roanoke Children’s Choir called, “Wear a Mask.”

“Think about your neighbor, think about your friends.
Think about our elders, on us they all depend.
Let’s all work together and do as we’ve been asked.
Social distance, wash your hands, and WEAR A MASK!”

Lyrics of “Wear a Mask”

Watch the virtual news conference below.

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