Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in the Roanoke-Alleghany region have reached their highest level to date.

Tuesday, health officials reported 50 hospitalizations in the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts. That’s 11 more than the 39 reported on Oct. 6.

Moreover, outbreaks also continue to rise, with a total of 28 reported in the two health districts on Tuesday. Twenty-six outbreaks were reported last week, which at the time, was the highest number for the year. 

This week, health officials reported outbreaks in 11 businesses, seven long-term care facilities, four congregate living settings, two restaurants, one firehouse, one health care facility, one church and one private school.

“We have a steady, uphill climb with respect to our COVID experience,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.

“Last week, we saw a record number of outbreaks. This week, we are seeing a record number of hospitalizations.  It’s just really important for us to remember to continue to do everything that we can to control the transmission of COVID-19 within our community,” Morrow said.

Morrow and Dr. Molly O’Dell, director of communicable disease control for the two health districts, participated in a weekly teleconference with the media Tuesday morning.

To complicate matters, health officials are also seeing confirmed cases of influenza in the region.

“This last week, we actually had a situation where someone tested positive for both influenza and COVID,” Morrow said, while emphasizing the importance for persons to receive a flu vaccine.

“When we get a flu shot, we protect ourselves, but we also protect those around us,” she said.

Tuesday, there were 52 active cases of COVID-19 in the Alleghany Health District, and 24 in the Roanoke City Health District. 

“Active cases are those who are in isolation. They are part of our active disease-investigation process,” O’Dell said.

Health officials are seeing about 45 news cases a day in the region. 

There have been 3,748 cumulative cases since the onset of the pandemic in March.

Fifty-seven deaths have been reported — 32 in the Roanoke City Health District and 25 in the Alleghany Health District. 

The caseload has remained steady in Southwest Virginia while other areas of the state are seeing declining numbers in relation to the percentage of individuals who are testing positive for the virus.

“It’s just fatigue, fatigue, fatigue. Some people aren’t taking this seriously and there’s so many different messages from sectors of our society. But I think people are just sick of it,” O’Dell said.

“As old and as tired as this message is, individuals and businesses still have a responsibility to do what they can to decrease transmission,” said Morrow in again stressing the need for carrying out COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Those include wearing face coverings, avoiding crowds, maintaining a minimum social distance of six feet and frequent hand washing.

“By and large, as people know what to do in their professional role, but once they get outside their professional role, their guard is going down and they are not maintaining social distancing, and/or they are not wearing masks and/or hand washing,” O’Dell said.

“There are ill-advised activities and events going on and they are impacting exposure,” she added.

It is O’Dell’s opinion that the “inconsistent adherence” to prevention measures that is allowing the Coronavirus to thrive.

“All it wants to do is find a nice, warm cell to hijack. If you go to any store or any little activity that’s going on, what I do not see is 100 percent adherence to social distancing or mask wearing,” she said.

O’Dell and Morrow said they have focused heavily on using the news media to  get their message to the public, but they expressed frustration over the fact that it’s not resonating with everyone.   

“It’s been politicized, and it’s gotten so complicated, and there’s so many groups giving different sets of information,” O’Dell said.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Morrow said. “Every week, we hope something that we say will stick. Last week, when we saw a record numbers of outbreaks, we were hopeful that would really help the message stick. And unfortunately, this week, we have a different and equally sobering message.

This virus is here, it’s real and it’s going to stay until all of us do our part to try to decrease transmission.”

On Tuesday, the cumulative case count in Alleghany County was 83. Covington had reported 31 cumulative cases and Bath County, 20. Bath is part of the Central-Shenandoah Health District.