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Deaths mount, led by nursing home outbreak / November 30, 2020
Five COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in Halifax County in the past week as the pandemic deepens in parts of America that previously escaped the worst of its miseries.

The mounting death toll in the county, 17 people through Sunday, has been fueled in part by the outbreak at South Boston Health and Rehab, formerly The Woodview. Through Nov. 15, 10 people had died of COVID-19 at the South Boston nursing home, according to the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which bases its numbers on information that nursing home providers furnish to the CDC.

The Nov. 15, end-of-week figures are the most current by the CMS, and more deaths at the long-term care facility are likely to materialize as the agency updates its reporting.

Halifax County’s plight — the virus has pushed the local caseload past the 800-person mark, to 814 through Sunday — is mirrored across the U.S., with public health officials warning that daily deaths could soon surpass the previous highs of springtime.

The one-day record for covid deaths came on April 15, when 2,603 people succumbed to the illness. On Wednesday, 2,284 Americans died of COVID-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer group of researchers.

In the spring, deaths were largely concentrated in a handful of states, especially New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Now the toll is everywhere — in urban, suburban and rural areas.

In Danville and Pittsylvania County, 71 people have died since the pandemic began, according to the latest reporting by the Virginia Department of Health. Neighboring Mecklenburg and Charlotte counties have reported new deaths in the past week, bringing the totals in the two counties to 36 and five, respectively. In Virginia, 4,508 people have died of the virus through Sunday.

With the daily average caseload in the U.S. hovering around 170,000 people, models suggest that virus deaths could rise to 3,000 per day by mid-December. Those projections are buttressed by concerns among public health officials that Thanksgiving family gatherings may touch off a new wave of disease around the country.

“We might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we’re already in,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a televised interview on Sunday.

Since November, 4.1 million Americans have tested positive for the disease, with more than 25,500 deaths. The U.S. has by far the highest number of cases worldwide, nearly 13.4 million, and the worst death toll, around 267,000 people, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Center.

Locally, the virus has sickened elderly and frail residents at two long-term care facilities — South Boston Health and Rehab and Berry Hill Health and Rehab — although federal data show a much greater impact at the former.

The numbers vary according to the source — the state health department lists 204 cases at South Boston Health and Rehab, while the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services pegs the number of patient cases at 131. However, the federal data also breaks out the number of South Boston Health and Rehab employees who have either tested positive for the disease or are quarantining with suspected cases: 62. The reporting runs through Nov. 15.

Of the 10 deaths reported at the facility, nine have occurred in the first half of November.

At Berry Hill Health and Rehab, only two residents had tested positive for COVID-19 through Nov. 15. However, four employees tested positive, and nine were suspected to have the virus.

Outbreaks in congregant settings — nursing homes, prisons, churches, workplaces, gyms, and other sites — have propelled the crisis since the pandemic hit the U.S. back in February.

Southside Virginia has seen its share of misery from nursing home outbreaks. Two in Mecklenburg County in the spring caused 28 deaths, and a prison outbreak at Baskerville Correctional Center, also in Mecklenburg County, that has sickened more than 200 inmates and claimed the life of the prison’s warden, longtime Corrections Department administrator Earl Barksdale.

The Virginia Department of Corrections in recent days has reported the first known exposure of COVID-19 at the Halifax Correctional Center, formerly Camp 23 in the Sinai area. While no inmates have contracted the virus, one employee has tested positive, according to online reporting by the VADOC.

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Those Mennonite women at walmart should pull that head dressing over their face. What makes them so special that none of them will wear a mask....are they immune? What is wrong with people around here? There is a deadly virus spread in this county with no stopping any time soon. I do not think it is a right for people like this to spread germs among others that are willing to protect themselves and others.....Walmart do your JOB.

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