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High area COVID numbers: What’s it all mean?

From the Rappahannock Area Health District:

As of 5pm Sunday, July 17, RAHD’s PCR % positivity rate was 26.3.
We have had questions from our community members about what this metric means. This number only reflects those who have sought testing from a doctor’s office, urgent care center, hospital, health department testing event, or pharmacy and does not reflect COVID testing completed by individuals, usually in their own homes.
A majority of those who seek PCR testing may be symptomatic and if eligible, may want to receive antiviral treatment which requires a prescription. Many of these same individuals may have already tested positive on an at-home kit and have PCR testing completed as a follow-up so that treatment can be provided. We do not have data to confirm this, but it is a strong possibility. If this is the case in many instances, we would expect to see higher % positivity reflected. It is important to note, however, that this metric has continued to trend upward over time, so this certainly bears paying attention to.
Hospitalizations in RAHD facilities have also been increasing. This morning, the number of individuals hospitalized DUE to COVID stands at 30. This is the highest number we have seen since the week of March 18th of this year. We are certainly hoping this is not a trend but again, this bears watching as it would indicate more people infected with COVID are dealing with severe illness.
What does all of this mean for you and your family? If you are not up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines, please make this a priority. We know that the vaccines do help prevent more severe illness in those infected. Are you due for a booster- your first or even your 2nd (if eligible)? Don’t wait- get those now. If you’re spending time in public, indoor spaces, consider wearing a mask if you’re at risk of developing more serious illness from COVID-19 or if someone you live with is at higher risk. Consider testing if you’re traveling to spend time with others. AND, if you’re not feeling well, whether you think you may have COVID or some other virus or illness, STAY HOME.

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