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Update: Eight deaths from COVID-19 in 9-day span reported in Amherst, more vaccine funding announced

Update: Eight deaths from COVID-19 in 9-day span reported in Amherst, more vaccine funding announced

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UPDATE: Just more than one-third of all Amherst County's coronavirus-related deaths so far were reported in the span of the past nine. The county reported eight new virus-related deaths from Feb. 16 to Feb. 25, according to the most recent available numbers released by the Virginia Department of Health. 

The county has 21 virus-related deaths overall as of Feb. 25. While the eight Amherst deaths were reported in a 9-day span, their dates of death are unclear from VDH data available online. 

The county has 2,663 cases overall and 74 have been hospitalized, the most updated figures show. Amherst County has had 5,264 vaccines administered as of Feb. 25 and 1,615 people in Amherst County are fully vaccinated, according to VDH. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Va., on Monday announced $179,010,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Virginia.

"As our nation mourns 500,000 lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to distribute the vaccine is more urgent than ever," a joint statement from Kaine and Warner said. "We are glad to announce that this funding will provide increased support to distribute vaccines equitably throughout the Commonwealth, and we remain committed to ensuring that every Virginian has access to the vaccine as quickly as possible."

This funding, awarded through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, will be overseen and distributed by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). It can be used to support efforts to store, transport, secure, handle, announce, and administer the COVID-19 vaccine throughout Virginia. 

In a recent online video welcoming students back to a second semester, Amherst County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Arnold said more than 500 of the division's roughly 700 employees have chosen to get vaccinated. Arnold said hopefully by about mid-March it is hopeful all in the school system who want to be vaccinated have received first and second doses. 

"We are really excited about that," Arnold said. "That is a turning point for us." 

Arnold said Amherst County High School is set up to serve a larger population of county residents as the vaccination rollout continues to the stage where they can come in.

"We're really excited about being able to do that for the community," Arnold said. 

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