February opened with 1 new death, 2 new hospitalizations and “only” 40 new cases of COVID-19 in the West Piedmont Health District. The Virginia Department of Health this morning reported the death of the 35th resident of Franklin County to succumb to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The disease could’ve happened just about any time, because VDH usually waits for death certificates to confirm cause of death. All data are tracked by a person’s residence. Franklin County had 19 of the new cases and 1 of the hospitalizations. Henry County and Martinsville each had 9 new cases, and Patrick County had 3 and the other hospitalization. The 40 deaths, which followed 25 on Monday, has helped lower the 7-day average of new cases to 71 and the 14-day average per 100,000 population to 728.3, remarkable drops from two weeks ago. Since the pandemic began, there have been 9,597 cases, 558 hospitalizations and 175 deaths in the district….January was a record month for COVID-19 in the health district, both in the number of cases and the number of deaths, with significant growth in both….Henry County Public Schools told families about plans to go back to hybrid learning in March, and officials are allowing teams and athletes to play in the postseason, even if they haven’t played in the regular season….Reporting lags, complicated logistics and data entry errors in COVID-19 vaccine distribution have frustrated health officials trying to beat back a virus that has killed almost 6,500 Virginians. But on Monday, new data from the Virginia Department of Health showed a prominent shift that has launched the state past most of the U.S. for supply used: Nearly 64% of available vaccines have been administered…..Vaccine distribution in the US will “get better very quickly,” Dr. Anthony Fauci says. With the Biden administration’s recent purchase of 200 million additional doses, the President says there will now be enough doses to fully vaccinate 300 million people by the end of the summer — almost the entire US population. Though vaccine efforts are improving, officials are still in a race against those coronavirus variants. Fauci says people who have had Covid-19, and thus have some measure of immunity, may get reinfected if variants become dominant. Meanwhile, Japan is planning to extend its state of emergency as case numbers rise. Despite worsening conditions, the country’s 2020 Olympics president says the games, postponed from last year and set for this summer, will go on no matter what….Senate Democrats are laying the groundwork for passing parts of President Biden’s coronavirus relief plan without any Republican votes, using a procedural shortcut known as budget reconciliation. This could take up to a month, which would allow for further bipartisan negotiations while leaving the door open for a unilateral deal. Biden spoke with some Republicans yesterday about their counterproposal to his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, but it’s clear Democrats don’t think the GOP alternative is viable….And there will be six more weeks of winter, Punxsutawney Phil predicted as he emerged from his burrow on a snowy Tuesday morning to perform his Groundhog Day duties….The Virginia Department of Health reports this morning there have been 510,380 cases and 6,517 deaths statewide — up by 43 since Monday. Some 21,516 people have been hospitalized. Henry County has had 3,763 cases, with 252 hospitalizations and 75 deaths. Martinsville has had 1,386 cases, with 116 hospitalizations and 36 deaths. Patrick County has had 1,069 cases including 78 hospitalizations and 29 deaths. Franklin County has had 3,379 cases, 112 hospitalizations and 35 deaths. Danville has reported 3,681 cases (66 deaths), and Pittsylvania County has had 4,158 (46 deaths). Johns Hopkins University’s real-time map showed 103,500,950 cases worldwide and 2,240,771 deaths. In the U.S. there have been 26,322,365 cases and 443,613 deaths because of COVID-19.
(118) updates to this series since