Dr. Avula: Community spread contributes to more nursing home staff unknowingly transmitting COVID-19


RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Richmond’s top health official says increasing community spread of COVID-19 is contributing to more nursing home staff unknowingly transmitting the virus to residents and patients.

Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond, Henrico Health District, made the acknowledgment during a virtual press briefing with Mayor Levar Stoney.

“Largely, this is happening because of staff, and staff that exists in communities,” Avula said. He adds what was a concern of more spread within nursing homes, long-term care and assisted living facilities, is now a reality; more facilities are being added to the list.

A dashboard showing data related to these facilities, published by the Virginia Department of Health, lists ‘outbreak in progress,’ ‘outbreak closed’ and ‘outbreak pending closure.’

Tuesday night, the dashboard listed eight active outbreaks in Henrico County, four in Chesterfield County two in Hanover County and one in Richmond. Among facilities noted: The Laurels of Bon Air in Chesterfield County, who did not immediately provide comment to 8News.

Their website says at least 30 residents and 23 staff are currently positive.

“And this is happening before we really have an opportunity to prevent through vaccination,” Avula said.

Though Pfizer, Moderna and Astra Zeneca produced promising initial trials for a vaccine, approval won’t be immediate; one reasoning of Avula’s urging for people to “pay it forward,” to prevent more spread as the city’s positivity grows.

“This week we have surpassed the highest peak that we have experienced as a city at any point in this pandemic back in June,” he said

Avula said Richmond’s COVID-19, seven day average, is about 56 new cases each day; beating the previous peak—around 54 in June.

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