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State health officials weigh next steps as COVID-19 cases rise, CDC recommends new guidance

The CDC considers several cities in Hampton Roads to have "high" COVID-19 transmission rates.

NORFOLK, Va. — Under the CDC’s newest guidelines, most cities in Hampton Roads are recommended to wear masks in public, indoor places. 

State health officials are meeting with Governor Ralph Northam's office to consider the next plan of action for the Commonwealth.  

Coronavirus cases are on the rise around the nation, as the number of people infected with the Delta variant climbs and vaccinations slow. 

Virginia saw more than 1,000 new cases Wednesday. It is the highest daily case count since April. 

Cases are also trending up in Hampton Roads. According to the CDC, most of the Hampton Roads area has a "high" COVID-19 transmission rate. 

The CDC defines "high" transmission rate as at least 100 cases per 100,000 people on average a week or more than 10 percent test positivity rate. It also categorizes communities with "substantial," "moderate" or "low" transmission levels. 

Areas with "high" and "substantial" levels are recommended to wear masks in public, indoor places. 

As of Wednesday, Chesapeake, Newport News, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Poquoson, and York County all have high transmission rates. 

Norfolk, Hampton, Gloucester, James City County, Mathews, Middlesex, and Portsmouth have substantial levels. 

Northampton County in Virginia is low. 

"Unfortunately with the rise in cases we may have to second look into what is safe and what is not in the coming weeks and coming month," said VDH Chief Deputy Commissioner Dr. Parham Jaberi. 

It’s unclear if or when state officials will make a decision on any mitigation recommendation. Dr. Jaberi said he is most concerned for people who are not vaccinated because 99 percent of new cases are hitting them the hardest and it makes it easier to birth variants.

"These variations occur because of our behavioral practices. It occurs because the virus is changing. The Delta variant is one reason we are particularly concerned now and we may have other variants in the future," he said.

His best advice is to get vaccinated and keep in mind the pandemic isn’t over.

"So the guidance really hasn’t changed on what would in terms of what would be smart measures in preventing this illness. It’s just whether we made it a mandate or not," he said.

In response to the uptick in cases, health officials extended the vaccine site at Military Circle Mall through August. The sites will run on limited hours every Tuesday and Thursday.