Rappahannock News

New COVID surge?

No, says health o cial: Jump in Rappahanno­ck COVID-19 cases reflects backlog of old cases

- B B P Rappahanno­ck News sta

A public health o cial said last week that an increase in reported COVID-19 cases in Rappahanno­ck County recently re ect the Virginia Department of Health conducting a “clean up” of data dating back to the winter’s omicron surge, and not a new surge of the virus locally.

Rappahanno­ck County on last Wednesday and Thursday reported 20 and 27 cases respective­ly, making them among the largest single- day increases in reported cases the county has seen to date.

But Rappahanno­ck Rapidan Health District Population Health Coordinato­r April Achter assured that most of those cases are not people who have recently been infected. She said to expect large numbers of new reported cases in the coming days as o cials work to catch up on reporting of old cases.

Errors in data reporting occur when a computer algorithm assigns an individual case to the incorrect county, which leads to reporting of a large negative number of new cases, Achter said.

Further human review is o en required to identify the correct county a person lives in to report the case

accurately. The errors o en occur in small unincorpor­ated localities, such as Amissville, where a person could live within the boundaries of multiple counties, she said.

Both locally and at the central of ce, VDH is also catching up on data entry. Positive antigen tests require manual entry, according to Achter, slowing down the speed at which they’re reported.

Regardless of when the person experience­d an onset of symptoms or the date of test, public health o cials only count the case the day they determine it meets criteria of what constitute­s an o cial case, she said.

Achter said VDH is monitoring the spread of BA. 2, the highly contagious omicron subvariant that is causing cases to rise in some states and creating surges in Europe.

“I think that for anyone who's high risk or just wants to take extra steps of protection that our mitigation strategies stay the same,” she said. “If you're indoors in a crowded area, wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance and we will keep our community updated as best we can as we survey.”

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