September 7, 2020: COVID-19 update for Labor Day

  
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Today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out is for Abundant Life Ministries, “working hard to create a better future for the Charlottesville community.”

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Since Friday morning, the Virginia Department of Health has reported another 2,792 cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. That adds up from 948 cases reported Saturday, 1,199 reported Sunday and 645 reported this morning. There are another 22 deaths since Friday, with six reported this morning. The seven-day average for positive test rates is at 7.7 percent, where it has roughly been since the beginning of the month. 

The Thomas Jefferson Health District has reported another 78 cases since Friday morning, with 27 of those from Saturday, 40 on Sunday, and eleven today. From September 1 to today, there have been 108 new cases reported from Charlottesville and 59 from Albemarle. Over the weekend was move-in weekend for the University of Virginia, prompting concern from many on social media that the number of cases might rise. 

The University of Virginia’s COVID-19 Tracker has not been updated since Friday so there is no official change from the 201 cases reported through September 3. That includes 161 student cases. A spokeswoman for the Thomas Jefferson Health District said in an email that cases among students do show up in the VDH data. 

“We are tracking and doing contact tracing for all UVA cases,” said Kathryn Goodman. “UVA cases will be reported wherever the student lives - so if they are in City of Charlottesville limits, they'll be in city numbers and if they're in Albemarle County limits, they'll be in the Albemarle numbers.”

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The epidemiological model put together by the Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative at the University of Virginia has raised the number of predicted cases anticipated by Thanksgiving. In the latest report published on Friday, forecasters suggest 15,609 more cases by that holiday, or a total of 203,492. A week before, the report stated 187,883. The increase is due to a rise in the virus’s reproductive rate in the state to slightly above one. (model report)

This week the model report also added new language to describe the rate of growth in health districts, which are now classified as if they are declining, in plateau, slow growth, or in surge. 

“Fewer health districts have been classified as surging in the past two weeks,” reads the report. “This does not mean growth has stopped. The surge trajectory is narrowly defined as having a current increase in cases of at least 2.5 per 100,000 per week.”

Only Richmond City and the New River Health Districts met that criteria when the latest model report was published. The Thomas Jefferson Health District was considered to be in plateau. However, the report wants that could all change.  

“Weather patterns are beginning to change and with that comes the start of the flu season,” reads the report. ”When Virginia last entered a period of significant change following the transition to Phase III of the Forward Virginia Plan, we observed a second peak in cases statewide. The upcoming seasonal changes could bring a similar, or even larger, increase in cases. This is a critical time for Virginians to modify behavior and place extra emphasis on safety and health.”

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The toy store Alakazam will be closed for the next couple of weeks, according to the mall shop's Facebook page. The owner has tested positive for COVID after a customer reported their own positive test. Other employees tested negative, but the post states they will continue to quarantine. 

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The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many nonprofits to shift their business model to grow membership while not necessarily growing revenue. Preservation Piedmont is one of those groups and Liz Russell is the president of its Board of Directors. 

“We are going to waive our membership dues in 2021,” Russell said. “That’s partly in light of the fact that we have not been able to have in-person events this year but also we really want to expand our audience, and our diversity, and our perspective.”

Russell said this gives people the chance to try out the organization for a year, and for the organization to expand. They’re also expanding the amount they will give for historic preservation grants up to $3,000.

“The application is due October 31 and there is more information on our website but the categories could include documentation and research, preservation, education and interpretative initiative,” Russell said. “Any kind of stabilization of a historic structure or repair, and any kind of preservation related publication research.” 

Visit Preservation Piedmont’s website for more information.

It is in fact Labor Day, and I will be spending this respite from meetings to catch up on a lot of stories I’ve been hoping to write. The weekly Week Ahead newsletter will be coming your way shortly. After that, paid subscribers will get a long story on the Crozet Master Plan. But for the rest of you, that story will also be available for free on Real Crozet VA.

That’s one example how support for this work through a subscription or through Patreon goes a long way to help build community journalism. I want to spend my time writing about these things, and every contributions leads to more work. For instance, supporters in the $10 tier on Patreon get access to the Week Ahead podcast I do, where I think more casually about what’s coming up in government meetings.

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