Mike Rae delivers a local COVID-19 update last month.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, The City of Emporia’s 45 COVID-19 related deaths is one of the highest in the nation. Most of those deaths came early in the pandemic, but COVID-19 is still a concern for Emporia Emergency Services Planning Coordinator Mike Rae.

“We’re right there with other rural communities in terms of vaccination rates,” Rae said. “Approximately 53% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, and 5% of the adult population has received the booster. Vaccinations have been and will continue to be offered in schools, but there is no good data at this time.”

The percentage of fully-vaccinated adults mirrors that of the Crater Health District. The rate of fully-vaccinated adults nationally is 70.5%. Rae said the excuse of unavailability to receive COVID-19 vaccines is no longer valid. The shots are now available at Wal-Mart, CVS, local physicians, and mobile clinics.

Rae expects a slight increase in active COVID-19 cases due to the upcoming holiday season. Rae and Greensville County Emergency Services Program Coordinator Reggie Owens have worked hand-in-hand throughout the pandemic to lessen the impact of the disease in the community. The duo also works with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Health, and other entities.

Rae has received the COVID-19 vaccinations and the booster. He encourages citizens to get vaccinated. Rae said it is unfortunate that the COVID vaccine has become a political football for many. He does not believe in vaccination mandates but said they might be coming down the pipeline in one form or another.

“What we are going to do is educate citizens and encourage vaccinations,” he said. We’re going to continue working with allies to combat the disease.”

According to data from the Virginia Department of Health, Emporia-Greensville is currently doing significantly better on the percentage of people testing positive for the virus. The number of people testing positive for COVID in Emporia-Greensville is 1%. People testing positive for COVID in the CHD is 8%.

Dinwiddie, Prince George, Hopewell, Petersburg, Sussex, and Surry are the other CHD localities.

Rae and other officials have learned much about the virus and how it spreads. As more is known about the disease, the safety measures continue to evolve. Rae said he would constantly update the City Council and the City staff on the latest knowledge of how the public can best mitigate the chances of contracting COVID-19.