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Henrico County COVID-19 cases increase; Richmond likely to follow

Emergency department entrance to a Richmond-area hospital
Hospitalizations in Henrico County have increased over the past few weeks due to COVID-19 cases. (Photo: Crixell Matthews / VPM News)

Henrico County’s COVID-19 case rate and hospitalizations have increased enough to push the county into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s medium community level

The county has a rate of nearly 300 cases per 100,000 people.

“If we stay up to date on COVID vaccinations and implement more prevention measures during times of increased transmission, we can protect our most vulnerable and maintain healthcare’s capacity to care for us… all while still being able to maintain some activities in person,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, Richmond and Henrico Health District acting director, in a release.

Local health officials also expect Richmond to be upgraded to medium in the coming weeks. The city now  has a weekly rate of 193 cases per 100,000 people. It will be upgraded when it exceeds 200 cases. 

Cat Long, RHHD spokesperson, said the current system, which was put into place in March, allows vaccinated people to assess their own risk and helps healthcare systems target resources at severe cases.

“As we go towards a virus that becomes increasingly transmissible and increasingly less severe, it’s more important that we really focus our attention on the severe cases - the hospitalizations, the deaths - and away from folks who are able to recover with a minor illness at home,” Long said.

She recommends people keep wearing masks, and to have rapid test kits on hand. Those steps can help keep hospitals from getting overwhelmed, Long said.

Most of Richmond’s surrounding cities and counties, including Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Petersburg, and Sussex also have a medium community level.

RHHD offers free COVID-19 at-home tests at some Richmond Public Library locations. It’s also increasing the availability of free COVID-19 PCR test events to meet a potential increased demand. 

This story was produced with assistance from the  Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. 

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.