At her weekly press conference Wednesday, New River Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell warned of reports from across the country and even in parts of Virginia about the surges in the number of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant.
“Delta is more contagious and it’s spreading quickly, now being responsible for over
80% of cases nationwide,” Dr. Bissell told reporters. “In the New River Valley, we are seeing an expected bump in cases and following it closely.”
The good news, according to Dr. Bissell is that the increase in the number of cases has not meant an increase in hospitalizations. “The majority of cases of severe illness, hospitalization, and death continue to be in those who are not vaccinated,” Dr. Bissell said. “We can keep that from happening in the New River Valley. For those who are not vaccinated, please try to put aside anything you’ve seen on social media or heard from friends about COVID-19 and the vaccine. We are a divided society right now and misinformation is rampant.
“If you have questions, please consult your doctor, pharmacist, or the health department. And take a moment to reflect about being your parent’s child and your children’s parent, about being a brother or sister to your siblings. Think of those closest to you and how you want to protect them from harm.
“Let’s also think about putting the pandemic behind us, how wonderful it would be to not have COVID dominate the conversation and get back to socializing,” the health district director said to the press. “Think about not having to wear a mask on public transportation.
“Getting more people vaccinated is the way to keep things from escalating in our community, and it’s the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of this pandemic. For those who have had COVID, we don’t know how strong the immunity is against the variants, but we do know the vaccines are very effective against the variants. The vaccine is remarkably effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
“It’s much safer to get the vaccine than it is to get COVID,” Dr. Bissell said. “Significant adverse effects after vaccination are very rare (<0.5%) and will happen in the first few months while sequelae from infection can present several months later (especially after mild or asymptomatic infections) and last much longer term.
“In the New River Valley, we have vaccinated 42.1% of the total population and more than 49% of those aged 16 and over,” Dr. Bissell said. “We continue trying to make the vaccine convenient. We are planning to be at the NRV Fair this week: Thursday and Friday from 5-8 p.m., and Saturday from 2- 6 p.m.
“Christiansburg Pharmacy offers vaccine Thursdays at the Christiansburg Farmers Market at the Christiansburg Recreation Center from 3 to 7 p.m. All of our pharmacy partners have vaccine and are very accommodating (Christiansburg/Blacksburg Pharmacies, Martin’s, The Pharm House, Radford Drug, Davidson’s, Main Street Pharmacy). Chain pharmacies including Wal-Mart, Kroger, CVS, and Walgreen’s all have vaccine.
“The health department has clinics on Friday mornings at the Giles County Health Department and at the Montgomery County Health Department, and we continue to vaccinate the homebound. Please call the health department to make an appointment or if anyone needs special accommodations. The number is 540-267-8240; that and more information are on our website, NRVRoadToWellness.com.”