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UVA model projects months-long Omicron surge in Augusta, Staunton, Waynesboro

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The University of Virginia COVID projection model is forecasting an Omicron surge in the Greater Augusta area peaking in late January at roughly three times the high-water mark of the September wave that pushed Augusta Health to the brink.

The UVA projection forecasts 2,167 COVID cases in the Greater Augusta region – Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro – the week of Jan. 24-30.

The post-holiday surge, according to the model, is likely to continue through the end of March, with 794 COVID cases projected the week of March 21-27.

For reference, Augusta Health was pushed to near-capacity in mid-September with cases peaking from the Delta wave at 776 the week of Sept. 13-19.

Fortunately, the Delta wave peak subsided rather quickly, with the number of new cases back down to 169 the week of Oct. 25-31.

The new UVA projection doesn’t have COVID numbers in our region getting back down to that floor until the end of May.

The problem here, of course, is our low level of vaccination – the number of fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health, is 55.1 percent of Augusta County, 59.0 percent of Waynesboro, 63.3 percent of Staunton.

What these numbers tell us: Omicron has plenty of kindling to blaze through – roughly 45,000 unvaccinated people in the county and two cities – over the next several months.

The key to preventing a potential tough battle with the Omicron variant isn’t just a dose or two of the vaccine, but boosters, and right now, our numbers there are abysmal – 19.3 percent of Augusta County, 22.3 percent of Waynesboro, 27.1 percent of Staunton.

That’s roughly 100,000 people who could at least be down for a few days with COVID, a percentage of whom are candidates for hospital visits because of other health issues that could factor in.

The solution to this is simple: get jabbed.

But then, the jabs have been available for literally more than a year now, and yet, here we are.

Story by Chris Graham


augusta free press
augusta free press