RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People are boarding planes, families are starting to gather and presents are ready to be opened but some Richmond residents will be spending their holidays quarantined with COVID-19. The City of Richmond is seeing an average 233 new cases a day, most of which are now expected to be the omicron variant.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was joined by State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula and Richmond Nursing Manager Amy Popovich for the city’s latest COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
Stoney urges residents to still remain vigilant against the virus, the mayor warns that cases are up 38% from last week. He said residents should be masking in indoor public spaces and making sure they are fully vaccinated and boosted,
Stoney said the vaccines are working, despite some breakthrough cases he said vaccination is protecting people from the worst COVID-19 symptoms. Avula echoed this saying the vaccines are offering strong protection against omicron but people really need to get boosted.
For Richmonders that don’t have their shots yet, Stoney reminds them that it’s not too late to protect the people around them. The mayor said he is worried about them and urges the unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves and get their shots. He also said it is not the time to attack people who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, but to work on continuing to reach those that are hard to reach.
Popovich said around 60% of the Richmond community is vaccinated. She said there will be more opportunities to get vaccinated at community clinics next month.
The city is also hosting testing clinics for people who feel ill, may have been exposed or are taking precautions to stop the virus spread. Popovich said they are working to get test results back to people as fast as possible. She also said at-home tests will be distributed this week, the Richmond Public Libraries have run out of tests for the year.
She said it could take time before people know if they have the virus, so people who test positive or are exposed should stay home for at least seven days. People who have contracted the virus should follow up with their doctor about it.
Avula said there have been varying hospitalization rates for the omicron variant. He did say that the now dominant strain is much more contagious than the earlier COVID-19 variants.
As for treatments for those who do contract the virus, Avula said that oral antivirals may not be available for a few months.