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Stay vigilant. Stay home.

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but unfortunately, many people are acting like it is.

The number of those infected in the Western Tidewater Health District has risen sharply over the last few weeks. The rolling seven-day average of new daily cases was 48 on Aug. 8, even though it has since fallen slightly. The district has had a streak of double-digit numbers of new cases reported every single day since July 7. Of the district’s 2,165 cases reported since late March, nearly a quarter of them have become ill just in the last two weeks.

The community spread is significant, and Western Tidewater Health District Director Dr. Todd Wagner is sounding the alarm about what he sees as complacency.

According to Wagner, contact tracing investigations in the Western Tidewater Health District continue to show gatherings of family and friends as the predominant cause of community spread.

“I still believe there is often a bit of complacency in some of these situations where people may believe that since they know all of those invited/attending, they couldn’t be infected, which we certainly know is not the case,” he said recently.

Remember that even though the stay-at-home order is long since lifted, you’re still safer at home. The more people you encounter — whether they’re extended family, old friends or complete strangers — then, theoretically, the greater your chance of catching the virus.

Wear a mask everywhere you go, even if you know everyone there. When it comes to gatherings like birthday parties and cookouts, maybe you could just send your regrets or attend virtually. No event is worth your life.

Download the COVIDWISE app. The app uses Bluetooth technology rather than GPS tracing to determine if you’ve been near anyone who later voluntarily reports a positive test. When they do, you will get a notification. Armed with that knowledge, you can self-quarantine while you may be contagious, and potentially get tested, so that you won’t infect anybody else if you do in fact have the virus.

Attend one of the Western Tidewater Health District’s free testing events coming up this month, even if you don’t feel ill. The concept is similar to the app — if you’re tested and it turns out you’re positive, you can self-quarantine, not infect anybody else, and report your positive test on the app to help stop the spread.

Here are the upcoming testing events:

  • Aug. 14 — Sentara Obici Hospital, 2800 Godwin Blvd., Suffolk, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 15 — Sentara Obici Hospital, 2800 Godwin Blvd., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 17 — Paul D. Camp Community College, 100 N. College Drive, Franklin, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 21 — Sentara BelleHarbour, 3920A Bridge Road, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 22 — Sentara BelleHarbour, 3920A Bridge Road, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 24 — Main Street Baptist Church, 517 Main St., Smithfield, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Aug. 28 — Sentara Obici Hospital, 2800 Godwin Blvd., Suffolk, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.