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Health care workers prepare for post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge

The Director of the Eastern Shore and the Three Rivers health districts said doctors are on standby starting the day after Thanksgiving.

SALUDA, Va. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are seeing a spike in community transmission of COVID-19 in many parts of the country.

Health officials on the Eastern Shore and Middle Peninsula said they're ready for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Compared to last Thanksgiving, there's some optimism in the Eastern Shore and Three Rivers Health Districts.

That's because of the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I think we're in an overall in a better place with regard to overall safety now than we were, certainly a year ago," said Health Director Dr. Richard Williams. 

Williams leads both health districts.

“The level of immunity in the communities is better, and it's improving all the time with booster vaccinations and the progression of the pandemic," he said.

Williams wants people to take precautionary measures seriously throughout the holidays. He said there's still a lot of COVID-19 out in the community. Because of that, the health districts are preparing for the day after Thanksgiving. 

Williams said they have contact tracers and medical staff standing by.

“Afterward, we’re certainly full up and ready to engage, and we’ll do whatever we need to," Williams said. "We're on call tomorrow -- and whatever we need to do to respond to a contingency, we will do."

On Wednesday, the CDC tweeted that the level of community transmission in the U.S. and the number of cases had already been increasing.

The CDC COVID-19 tracker shows Virginia at a "High" level of community transmission.

“The most vulnerable are people who are not vaccinated, older people who are not vaccinated particularly," said Williams. 

He said if anyone is has been exposed to COVID-19, the same guidance applies whether it's a holiday or not. 

“At day five or seven after exposure, you can go ahead and test yourself for peace of mind. Be vigilant and be aware of symptoms," said Williams. 

The tracker shows among the seven cities, Chesapeake has a "high" community transmission rate. Other cities are at a "substantial" rate of transmission.

The only county with a low community transmission rate in the state is Sussex.