Health and Medicine

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NEWS RELEASE: (Richmond, Va.) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that the COVID-19 data numbers that will be posted on Friday, August 7 will contain a significant increase due to a data backlog from earlier in the week.

Today’s data will indicate 2,015 new cases.  This figure includes information that should have been reported on Wednesday and Thursday of this week as well as the regular numbers for Friday.

Late Thursday, VDH’s Office of Information Management, which helps manage VDH’s COVID-19 databases, identified and rectified the technical issue, which was a system performance configuration.

To follow the number of new cases by day of symptom onset, please refer to the graph, “Number of Cases by Date of Symptom Onset.”

According to the latest numbers released this morning from the Virginia Department of Health there are 65 new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases being attributed to the Roanoke Valley. 27 new cases in Roanoke City, 24 new cases in Roanoke County, 10 new cases in Botetourt County and 4 new cases in Salem. This comes a day after 68 cases were reported in the Roanoke Valley.

According to the latest numbers released this morning from the Virginia Department of Health there are 68 new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases being attributed to the Roanoke Valley. 41 new cases in Roanoke City, 11 new cases in Roanoke County, 7 new cases in Botetourt County and 9 new cases in Salem. This comes a day after 28 cases were reported in the Valley.

Virginia has rolled out a smartphone app to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. state to use new pandemic technology created by Apple and Google.

“We’re using every possible approach to fight this virus and keep Virginians healthy,” Northam said in a statement provided to AP that encouraged all Virginians to download the app. “The COVIDWISE app is completely anonymous, protects personal privacy, and gives you an additional tool to protect yourself and your community.”

During his news conference, the governor went to unusual lengths to address privacy concerns. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

08-05 COVID App Wrap-WEB

Covidwise relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. It is available at Apple and Android app stores.

Those who download Virginia’s app get a message that it is “100% voluntary” and doesn’t use location-tracking technology such as GPS or collect personal information that can be used to identify someone.

“Your device will share anonymous tokens via Bluetooth with other COVIDWISE users,” the app says. “If another user you’ve been nearby tests positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, your app will notify you.”

It also says those who test positive can anonymously notify others to help stop the disease’s spread.

Information on Virginia’s public health department website says the app measures close contact as within 6 feet of someone for at least 15 minutes, using guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If, for instance, there are two students in adjacent dorm rooms with a wall between them, the health department says the wall “would be expected to diminish the signal strength between devices” but a false alarm might still be triggered depending on the wall’s materials and structure.

A number of states have expressed interest in using the Apple-Google technology for an app, including Alabama, South Carolina, North Dakota and Pennsylvania, but until Wednesday none had publicly introduced one yet.

“Everyone is trying so hard and there’s limited time, limited capacity,” said Sameer Halia, who is working to launch an app in Arizona using the Google and Apple software. “Every state will look at what their needs are and what their population cares about and make a decision.”

Several states have rolled out apps using other approaches, such as satellite-based GPS location tracking, but there’s little evidence they have been successful. Unlike the tech companies’ model, many of these apps send data to public health officials so they can use it to trace the contacts of infected patients.

“While we know that it has been very helpful in many cases, we can’t say exactly how many,” said Rhode Island health department spokesman Joseph Wendelken.

Privacy advocates have largely favored the approach taken by Apple and Google, but some health experts have questioned its effectiveness, especially if there are too many false alarms and if local health agencies don’t have the capacity to test enough people.

Apple and Google didn’t immediately return an emailed request for comment Wednesday.

Photo: Roanoke Fire-EMS

Roanoke Fire-EMS now has two new medic trucks in service, and they were ordered at a fortunate moment when they could be equipped in advance for use in the COVID era. Fire trucks may head out on calls occasionally, but the city’s medic trucks see far more constant use and must be replaced more frequently. Lieutenant Adam Fleming says Roanoke’s newest pair arrives equipped to handle COVID concerns. The new units will be stationed at Elm and Franklin downtown and along Williamson Road. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

08-05 Medic Trucks Wrap-WEB

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