Culpeper area seniors, like those statewide, are bearing the worst of COVID-19, accounting for the most deaths and hospitalizations even as the number of local cases doubled in a week.
The Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District reports 250 cases of the novel coronavirus district-wide as of Monday, including 113 in Culpeper County, 96 in Fauquier, 14 in Madison, 26 in Orange and 1 in Rappahannock.
Older adults in the area, though reporting lower numbers of cases, continue to see the most hospitalizations and deaths from the highly contagious respiratory disorder.
The second death in Culpeper County, reported on Monday, was a man in his 80s.
A Culpeper woman in her 80s was reported earlier this month as the county’s first novel coronavirus death.
District-wide, there have been four total deaths of people in their 80s from COVID-19, including two men in Fauquier, according to VDH.
Ellen Phipps, executive director of the regional nonprofit Aging Together, said it is known that older adults are at the highest risk for serious impacts of COVID-19.
“We also know that the best protection is physical distancing. Aging Together is working with our partners across the region to provide the most updated, accurate information—we are serving as a clearinghouse for information because there is so much information out there and it is hard to know what is accurate,” she said of an updated community resource list at agingtogether.org.
“Staying safe also means knowing how to access food, obtain prescription medications, and how to safely prevent social isolation.”
Because many are adhering to social distancing, area senior citizens—those in their 60s, 70s and 80s—have the least amount of positive cases among local adults in the RRHD with 26 total cases, according to VDH data.
District hospitalizations are highest among those in their 80s with seven of the 9 local people testing positive for the novel coronavirus in this age bracket having to be hospitalized.
District-wide, there were 22 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 as of Monday—10 in Culpeper, 8 in Fauquier, 1 in Madison, 3 in Orange and none in Rappahannock.
Local people in their 30s account for the most cases of COVID-19 in the RRHD with 59 cases, followed by people in their 40s with 53 cases and people in their 20s with 43 cases, according to VDH data.
People in their 30s also had the second most hospitalizations in the district at five, the same number of local people in their 50s hospitalized for COVID-19.
Six local children up to the age of nine have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the RRHD with one hospitalization. Another 16 cases are in the 10-19 age bracket locally.
Monday’s numbers reflect an increase of 18 cases district-wide since Saturday when the total was 232, with 103 cases in Culpeper, 87 in Fauquier, 14 in Madison, 26 in Orange and 2 in Rappahannock.
One week ago there were 122 cases in the district—51 in Culpeper, 41 in Fauquier, 8 in Madison, 21 in Orange, and 1 in Rappahannock.
Along with the rest of Virginia, the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District is entering its eighth week monitoring COVID-19 cases.
Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday that state numbers are still rising, but the growth rate is slower.
“We may have seen our case count peak today,” he said during Friday’s briefing. “I hope that is true. The case count was doubling every three days but now is taking nine days to double.”
As of Monday, the state had 13,535 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 448 deaths from the virus. While more women were diagnosed with the illness in Virginia, more men needed to be hospitalized—and more men also died. There have been 246 male deaths and 208 female deaths statewide as of Monday, according to VDH. Gender was not reported in four fatalities.
The illness has affected people of all ages, including 161 children age 9 and under who have tested positive. But it’s caused far more deaths among the older population.
In Virginia, two people in their 20s, three in their 30s, nine in their 40s and 27 in their 50s have died. But there were 84 deaths of people in their 60s, 113 deaths among those in their 70s and 220 deaths of people 80 and over.
Northam said at Monday’s briefing that Virginia would reopen its businesses when “this public health crisis is behind us.” This questions has been a hot topic nationwide as many face economic ruin due to prolonged closures to slow the spread.
“To keep Virginia as safe as we can is my first priority,” he said. “They call it the novel coronavirus—it’s new to the world ... it’s new Virginia. There is a lot of things we don’t know about this virus we would like know. We don’t know if it’s a seasonal virus like the flu. There is no treatment and no vaccine.”
Virginia received 1.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment on Monday, Northam said, and FEMA was providing 14,000 tests to the state laboratory. He acknowledged the number of tests being done was inadequate, and that it was inadequate everywhere.
Northam said he hoped Virginia hospitals could resume elective surgeries this Friday, noting that’s because people have been following social distancing public health guidelines. As a result, hospitals have not seen a surge of COVID-19 patients while being able to maintain adequate PPE, beds and ventilators for treating such patients.