RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– We’re seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide and here locally, according to health leaders in our area.
According to the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, COVID case counts are increasing across the entire region as more PCR tests are coming back positive.
Henrico is now at a medium COVID-19 community level. The county joins Hanover, Chesterfield, and Powhatan, who shifted into this level last week. In Petersburg City, the community level is also medium.
To determine COVID community levels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looks at cases and admissions per 100,000 population in a week, and the percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients.
The color green indicates a low level, yellow is medium and orange is high.
The CDC updates this data every Thursday.
Brian Schreiber is from Chesterfield County and frequently works in Henrico County. More than a million people have passed away from the virus, including Schreiber’s mother, who died last year. He’s hoping for an end to the pandemic and said he is worried for his father, who is currently suffering from cancer.
“I wish it would be gone already. It’s killed way too many people,” Schreiber said.
Amy Popovich is the Nurse Manager for the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. As of Wednesday evening, Popovich said the city of Richmond is at the low level but is right on the cusp of increasing into the medium level.
The city is averaging 193,00 COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 (7-day total). If the city reaches 200,000 admissions, it will be recategorized to the medium level.
“We wouldn’t be surprised at all if tomorrow we were at medium yellow designation or even high in the next few weeks,” said Popovich.
She said the increase is likely due to subvariants, specifically the Omicron variant, and that residents should take precautions.
“As we’re entering into the summer months here, this is a great and easier time to spend time outside. Have gatherings outside,” said Popovich. “Be prepared for the next couple of weeks to have your mask, have your at home test kit, but we will get through it.”
People living in medium COVID community levels should improve indoor ventilation and stay up to date on vaccines.
The CDC encourages people to wear masks who are indoors, immunocompromised, ride public transportation, are in school, or are in clinical settings. RHHD will consider recommending indoor mask-wearing again if community levels are high.
Since the beginning of the year, RHHD has distributed more than 30,000 COVID-19 test kits.
The health districts advise residents to stock up on test kits. Individuals can request free tests at covidtests.gov. People can also pick up a free COVID-19 home test at some Richmond Public Library locations (Broad Rock, East End, Ginter Park, Main Library, and North Ave).
RHHD is also increasing the availability of free COVID-19 PCR test events. You can visit the health districts’ website for more information on testing locations.