Free testing set as COVID-19 cases surge in district

The West Piedmont Health District, in cooperation with various partners, is offering several free COVID-19 testing opportunities in November and early December.

In Patrick County, free tests are available Monday through Friday, at Patrick County Urgent Care, 935 Woodland Drive, Stuart. Call (276) 694-4466 for information.

In Henry County and the City of Martinsville, testing is offered on various dates/times, according to information from Nancy Bell, public information officer of the WPHD, which includes the localities of Patrick, Henry and Franklin counties and the City of Martinsville.

The Army National Guard will conduct tests at the National Guard Armory, 315 Commonwealth Blvd., Martinsville, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 9-10, 16-17, 24, 30 and Dec. 1 and Dec. 7.

Martinsville Emergency Services will conduct testing on Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with additional details to be released as the event approaches.

Free testing also is available in Franklin County, from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 5 at Pigg River Community Center, 2410 S Main Street, Rocky Mount. Pre-registration is required by calling (540) 769-2052 to register for the event conducted by Carilion Clinic.

Testing also will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 9 at the Franklin County Administration Building, 1255 Franklin Road (40 West), Rocky Mount. Pre-registration is advised for the tests that will be conducted by Carilion Clinic. To register, call (540) 769-2052.

Participants must be 18 or older.

The number of coronavirus cases has drastically increased over the last couple of weeks, according to data provided by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

As of Oct. 30, the estimated number of active cases over a 10-14 day period rose to 384-500 cases in the WPHD. With a total of 3,078 cases, the district now has a per capita rate of 42.09 cases per day.

On the 10-day rolling average of per capita positive cases, the district is experiencing its highest surge since July. In addition, the 7-day rolling average for the district is now almost double the state average. While the two averages were close at the beginning of October, cases drastically increased while the state average showed a slight increase.

Henry County has 1,365 total cases, 143 hospitalizations and 32 deaths. The City of Martinsville has 494 total cases, 66 hospitalizations and 25 deaths. Patrick County has 327 total cases, 59 hospitalizations and 27 deaths. Franklin County has 902 total cases, 34 hospitalizations and six deaths.

In the health district, most of the cases were among those aged 50-59 years. Caucasians made up the most cases in the district, with 1,465. The combined total of all minorities is almost half of that number. Females also had higher numbers in the district, with 1,740 cases compared to 1,332 cases in male counterparts.

As the number of coronavirus cases increase, the unemployment rate in the area has remained steady, based on September figures.

Henry County’s unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent from the previous month. Now at 7.2 percent, a total of 1,708 people are still out of work.

Similarly, Martinsville dropped from 11.5 percent to 11.1 percent. This accounts for 37 people gaining employment during the month, with 630 unemployed. The September 2020 numbers are almost three times higher than those of last year.

Patrick County’s unemployment dropped from 6.4 to 5.8, but still has a way to go before reaching the 3.1 percent unemployment rate of September, 2019.

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