Health officials fear spike in COVID-19 cases after the Labor Day weekend


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Beach bashes and backyard BBQs are the hallmark of the holiday weekend.

“Last Labor Day weekend wasn’t COVID, we definitely did go to the beach,” Clarence Thompkins told 10 On Your Side while playing in the park with his children.

This year, that’s all they’ll be doing, and that is precisely what Dr. Todd Wagner, director of the Western Tidewater Health District, would prescribe.

“If it can be postponed until things are in a better situation and until there’s less community spread, I would even incentivize people to do that,” Wagner said.

The Western Tidewater district just jumped back to a 14% positivity rate and Wagner fears it will get worse after the long weekend. That’s because the whole region saw COVID-19 cases go up after the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.

Wagner says he knows people are tired of the masks and social distancing and while the death rate from COVID-19 is very low in Virginia — around 2%, he insists, “We really need to stay the course now more than ever.”

The more space there is to spread out the better,” Wagner said. “So, a beach day would be better than a party on your patio. We all kind of fall back into that sense of these are people that I know, surely they can’t be sick or infected, but they certainly could be.”

It’s certainly is not what many people want to hear, but for those like Clarence Thompkins who prefer to go it alone, “I didn’t have to change anything,” he laughed. “It’s perfect.”

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