Clark Palmer

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Virginia Department of HealthFROM VDH : (RICHMOND, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Central Virginia who had no history of travel during the exposure period. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. A preliminary report from experts in the United Kingdom indicates that this variant causes more severe illness than other variants, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. To date, the B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in 44 other U.S. states.

The Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) confirmed the case using next-generation sequencing that provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition to this case of the B.1.1.7 variant, eleven other cases of the B.1.1.7 variant and three cases of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 variant (first identified in South Africa) have now been identified in Virginia, as of February 24. With the combined state and national surveillance efforts, it is likely that additional cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern will be identified.

Viruses change all the time, and VDH expects to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as disease spreads. As our public health officials closely monitor the emergence of these SARS-CoV-2 variants in our Commonwealth, it is critical that all Virginians comply now with mitigation measures. We are in a race to stop the spread of these new variants. The more people that become infected, the greater that chance the virus will mutate and a variant will arise that could undermine the current vaccination efforts. Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

As of February 23, 2021, approximately 1.9 million Virginians have joined the fight against COVID-19 using their mobile devices. This includes 1,008,322 downloads of COVIDWISE – the nation’s first app using the Google/Apple framework and the second most downloaded exposure notifications app in the United States. An estimated 900,975 additional iPhone users have also turned on COVIDWISE Express, which is a secondary exposure notifications option specifically for iPhone users.

DCLS began sequencing positive COVID-19 samples in March 2020, becoming one of the first public health labs in the nation to use this technology to examine the genetic makeup of the virus and track how it is changing and being transmitted in the Commonwealth. DCLS is working with other labs in Virginia to solicit additional positive samples to sequence so public health officials can get a representation of variants circulating throughout Virginia.

For more information about COVID-19 variants, visit the VDH COVID-19 Testing website and the CDC New COVID-19 Variants website. For more information on DCLS and its use of next-generation sequencing, visit

The Roanoke County Police Department is conducting an investigation at Hollins University after human remains were discovered Tuesday afternoon on the campus. Police Department personnel will be on-site through tomorrow.

There appears to be no connection to the University. Hollins University is cooperating with the Police Department and notified their students, faculty and staff of the police presence on campus.

No further information is available at this time.

Once again state health officials are reporting less than 100 new coronavirus cases in the Roanoke Valley.According to the latest numbers released this morning by VDH there are 37 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases. 15 new cases in Roanoke County, 14 new cases in Roanoke City, 3 new cases in Salem, and 5 in Botetourt County. No new hospitalizations or deaths are being attributed to the Roanoke Valley.

According to the latest numbers released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health there are 14 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, and 1 new hospitalization, being reported in the Roanoke Valley. 4 new cases in Roanoke City, 6 new cases in Roanoke County, 2 new cases and 1 new hospitalization in Salem, and 2 new cases in Botetourt County.

According to the latest numbers released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health there are 129 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, 4 new deaths, and 3 new hospitalizations being reported in the Roanoke Valley. 38 new cases, and 2 new deaths in Roanoke City, 60 new cases,3 new hospitalizations, and 2 new deaths in Roanoke County, 19 new cases in Salem, and 12 new cases in Botetourt County.

Hunter “Alex” Trail
( Photo from Roanoke City Police Department Twitter)

Roanoke City Police are asking for the public’s help to locate a missing minor. Authorities say 16-year-old Hunter “Alex” Trail, was reported missing yesterday after he was last seen at his home in the 47 hundred block of Long Acre Dr. NE. Trail was last seen wearing a blue shirt with black pants.

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