After reporting an average of about 60 COVID-19 cases weekly since the beginning of the year, Lynchburg-area school divisions reported only 17 new cases of COVID-19 this week.
Together, Lynchburg City Schools and public schools in the counties of Campbell, Bedford, Amherst and Nelson have reported 858 positive cases of COVID-19 since their school years began.
As of Friday, Virginia has seen 559,930 cases of COVID-19 — an increase of 2,034 since Thursday, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Lynchburg City Schools reported two new cases of COVID-19 this week. Additionally, 27 students and staff members went into quarantine as a result of a possible exposure this week.
The division has reported 161 cases of the virus since September.
Bedford County Public Schools reported 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 this week.
One case each was reported at Boonsboro Elementary School, Moneta Elementary School, Staunton River High School and the Susie G. Gibson Science & Technology Center.
Two cases each were reported at Forest Middle School and Liberty High School. Jefferson Forest High School reported three new cases of COVID-19 this week.
Bedford County Public Schools has reported 428 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the school year.
Campbell County Public Schools reported no new cases of COVID-19 this week. The division has reported 140 positive cases of COVID-19 since September.
As of Friday afternoon, Amherst County Public Schools reported three new cases of COVID-19 this week. One case was reported at each Amherst Elementary School and Monelison Middle School. The third case was reported in the division’s transportation department. The division has reported 105 cases of the virus since the school year began.
Nelson County Public Schools reported one new case of COVID-19 at Nelson County High School this week. The division has reported 24 cases of COVID-19 since beginning the school year in a remote-only model.
On Friday, the Virginia Department of Health reported that the state has seen 23,619 COVID-19- related hospitalizations and 7,098 COVID-19-related deaths since March.
The average number of new COVID-19 cases over a seven-day period in Virginia has trended downward for more than a week straight.
This is a first since mid-June, when the state case average was less than 900. Eight months later, the daily average is 2.5 times that amount, with 2,246 cases.
Last month, it was 6,161.
Also slowing down is the percentage of people testing positive for the virus, which dropped to 8.2% on Friday. Hospitalizations are falling in concert, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
The state saw a 157- patient decline since Thursday and a total of 1,671 people are currently hospitalized for virus- related reasons. The same day in January had 2,429.
In the past week, there have been roughly 1,800 hospitalizations on any given day. While still high, the numbers are inching back toward reports from November, the month another surge began.
Steady progress in driving down case numbers and hospitalizations has swept the U.S. in the past few weeks but health officials expect circulating variants could result in another surge.
As of Thursday, the latest update available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified more than 1,500 cases of the United Kingdom variant with 42 states reporting at least one. There are at least 11 cases found in Virginia.
This could become the dominant strain by March and shift the state’s course once again unless vaccinations ramp up in speed.
Virginia has administered more than 1.5 million vaccines. At least 300,000 were in the last week.
Nearly 1.1 million people have received at least one dose, which is almost 13% of the state population.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch contributed.