The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report.
No lane closures reported.
*UPDATE* Mile marker 300 to 299, southbound – Shoulder closures for ditch cleaning, Monday and Wednesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
No lane closures reported.
Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.
Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
Front Royal man involved in Fauquier crash under investigation by State Police
Virginia State Police Trooper T. Ralls is investigating a two-vehicle crash in Fauquier County. The crash occurred on Tuesday, September 21, at 5:41 p.m. at the intersection of Route 17 (Winchester Rd) and Route 245 (Old Tavern Rd).
A 1995 Saturn SL2 was traveling West on Rt. 245 when it stopped at a stop sign. As the Saturn attempted to cross Rt. 17, it collided with a Northbound 2004 Volkswagen Jetta.
The driver of the Saturn, a 17-year-old male, of Warrenton, VA, and the passenger, a 16-year-old female, suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash. They were both transported to INOVA Fairfax Hospital for treatment. The male and female were wearing seatbelts.
The driver of the Volkswagen, a 40-year-old male, of Front Royal, VA, suffered minor injuries in the crash and was transported to Haymarket Medical Center for treatment. The male was wearing a seatbelt.
The crash remains under investigation.
Valley Health announces Crisis Measures in response to surging COVID-19 cases in our region
In response to an inquiry about medical staff social media reports of surging COVID-19 numbers filling regional hospital Emergency Rooms and Intensive Care Units, Royal Examiner received a press release from Valley Health on Wednesday afternoon, September 22, announcing “Crisis Measures” being implemented to deal with the pandemic surge. Read the press release in its entirety below the two social media posts that began our inquiry. And remember, as noted in the below caption, the current Coronavirus surge that has now taken 687,459 lives nationwide; 12,634 dead in Virginia; and 68 fatalities in Warren County, is being called “a pandemic of the unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated”.
Winchester, VA, September 22, 2021 – Valley Health is treating an increasing number of COVID-19 patients and now the health system’s resources are being stretched significantly.
“Our caregivers have worked double shifts, nights, weekends and holidays to save patients and fight COVID-19 in our community. They have shown remarkable resiliency, but they, like all of us, are growing tired. We are asking our community to pull together and help end the spread of this virus,” said Mark Nantz, President and CEO of Valley Health.
Valley Health’s six hospitals are currently treating 140 patients for COVID-19, about 85% of whom are unvaccinated. According to Iyad Sabbagh, MD, Chief Physician Executive, the most severely ill patients are unvaccinated, underscoring the importance of COVID-19 vaccination.
“The data and scientific evidence overwhelmingly points to the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination,” said Dr. Sabbagh. “I implore residents to get vaccinated, continue to follow masking recommendations and consider implementing social distancing measures such as canceling events where the virus could easily spread. The Delta variant we are now confronting is more contagious than previous versions of this virus and is spreading rapidly in our community.”
According to Dr. Sabbagh, the daily count of hospitalized patients, their acuity level, and vaccination status changes quickly and makes it challenging to provide an accurate snapshot of how many community members are being treated across the system at any point in time.
“Within hours, our count can change dramatically. We are also seeing an increase in the number of patients being dishonest about their vaccination status, which makes it hard to share that data with our community,” Dr. Sabbagh said. He noted that patients fear they will not receive care if they share with staff that they are unvaccinated.
“Our job is to care for every individual who comes to us,” Sabbagh asserted. “While we want the public to know that vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of COVID, we also want them to know that we’re here to care for them, regardless of their vaccination status. It is our mission as healthcare providers.”
Valley Health previously reported that 97% of its caregivers have either been vaccinated or been granted medical or religious exemptions. Additionally, the health system has been very successful in recruiting new staff to fill vacancies left by employees who chose not to comply with the vaccination requirement. Valley Health has seen an increase in new hires, and overall has had a net gain of staff since announcing the policy in July.
“Our challenge is not staffing due to our COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Our challenge is the sheer number of severely ill COVID-19 patients presenting for care at our hospitals,” commented Nantz.
Valley Health’s response to the patient surge includes bringing on additional resources and implementing measures to care for patients and protect staff:
Additional ICU Capacity Added
With all available ICU beds filled last Friday, WMC opened an additional unit to accommodate the number of severely ill patients needing care. As of Sunday, there were 23 COVID positive patients in the Emergency Department with limited bed availability, and all ICUs in the region were taking 24 hours or more to accept transfers.
Hospital Visiting Curtailed
Patient visitation at Valley Health’s six hospitals is being curtailed to reduce the risk of transmission between visitors, patients and caregivers. In the last several weeks, Valley Health has seen an increase in disruptive visitor behavior, including refusal to abide by masking requirements while visiting.
Visitation exceptions are being made at Winchester Medical Center for Labor and Delivery, Mother/Baby, Pediatrics and NICU, and at all facilities for special circumstances including end-of-life care, on a case-by-case basis. Visit www.valleyhealthlink.com/visitation for updates and details.
Elective and Non-Essential Surgeries Postponed
This week, all Valley Health hospitals and outpatient surgery centers will begin postponing elective and non-essential procedures and surgeries. This will not impact procedures and surgeries for patients whose condition is emergent or urgent, as determined by their physician. This decision was made after thoughtful consideration and is consistent with the guidance being provided by governmental, clinical, and regulatory organizations.
“Our top priorities are to protect our care team and all those we are caring for,” said Dr. Sabbagh. He expressed appreciation to Valley Health’s caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’ve been so impressed with our team’s commitment, resourcefulness and resiliency,” he said.
“We are still all in this together,” Nantz reflected. “We can help our coworkers, patients, families and friends respond safely, rationally and thoughtfully to create the best possible outcomes. We can listen to one another, be thoughtful, kind, and understand that we are dealing with this crisis together, not separately.”
Visit valleyhealthlink.com/coronavirus for updates on Valley Health visitation policies and other service adjustments.
Valley Health is a nonprofit health system serving a population of more than 500,000 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, and western Maryland. As a healthcare provider, employer, and community partner, Valley Health is committed to improving the health of the region. The system includes six hospitals, more than 60 medical practices and Urgent Care centers, outpatient rehabilitation and fitness, medical transport, long-term care, and home health. www.valleyhealthlink.com
(From a Valley Health Press Release)
Flash Flood Watch in effect here from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning
Tuesday morning the following information was distributed by the Warren County Emergency Services Department noting that the Sterling, Virginia office of the National Weather Service (NWS) has included Warren County in a Flash Flood Watch area from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning:
For your awareness, the County/Town will be under a Flash Flood Watch starting tomorrow morning. As of 10:06 AM EDT Tues. Sept. 21, 2021, the National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has expanded the Flash Flood Watch
- to include portions of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, including the following areas: in Maryland, Central and Eastern Allegany, Extreme Western Allegany, Frederick MD, Garrett and Washington. In Virginia, Clarke, Frederick VA, Madison, Northern Fauquier, Rappahannock, Warren and Western Loudoun. In West Virginia, Berkeley, Eastern Mineral, Hampshire, Jefferson, Morgan and Western Mineral.
- From Wednesday morning through Thursday morning;
- Showers and isolated thunderstorms are expected Wednesday into Thursday morning across the watch area. Given the local enhancement of the higher terrain and a very moist air mass, widespread rainfall amounts of two to four inches are expected by Thursday morning. However, localized amounts could exceed that, especially along the ridges. Flash flooding is possible.
You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.
Satellite spots Friday morning flash over Hardy, W. Va. – may verify meteor explanation of Shenandoah County BOOM
A NASA satellite designed to track electrical storm activity may provide the evidence to confirm that a meteorite strike was the cause of the loud BOOM and earthshaking reported in Shenandoah County and points west across the state border into West Virginia, Friday morning, September 17. In a social media post that day accompanying a video recording of the believed meteor flashes from viewer Sandra Dickerson of the Baker-Lost City area of West Virginia, Harrisonburg-based WHSV TV Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz wrote that NASA had confirmed by email that they were “investigating this as a meteor strike, fireball.”
The following day citing Urbanowicz’s work on the story and postings of viewers’ audio and video of the event, Today Headline’s Peter Forister added that NASA’s “GOES-16 Satellite Flash Density product displayed a flash area over Hardy County” West Virginia, consistent with the 10:23 a.m. Friday event timeframe. While there was cloud cover, there were no storms reported in the area at the time, reducing the likelihood of lightning as the explanation for the flash. It was also reported that Hardy County experienced a power outage at the time of the event.
In a social media post to WHSV, a person posting as “Spicy McHaggis” stating they were a pilot in the air at the time of the event wrote: “Yeah it was a meteor. I’m a pilot and we saw from 36,000-feet along the VA/WV border. High in the sky and left a white smoke trail.”
The boom and resultant ground shaking was initially reported as an explosion – logical, maybe somebody’s meth lab blew up – or earthquake. However, area officials could not confirm an explosion in the area and the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) reported no earth-generated seismic activity in the area during the timeframe of the event.
So, as of Monday afternoon an uninvited visitor from space continues to be the leading candidate as the cause for last Friday’s regional earth-shaking event. Information Forister cited from the NASA Meteor Watch website estimated the mass of the object at about 50 pounds impacting the earth at a speed of 45,000 miles per hour, with the energy of one to two tons of TNT. NASA estimated a brightness magnitude of 12, cited as equal to a full moon (due tonight). And so far it appears our theorized space visitor had the cosmic courtesy NOT to land on an occupied patch of our planet.
Thanks, little fellow – hope the animals heard you coming and got out of the way too.
Fire and Rescue members graduate National Honor Guard Academy
On Friday, September 17, 2021, four members of the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services graduated the National Honor Guard Academy which was held in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
“Upon completing this program, our staff will be assigned to assemble our Department of Fire and Rescue Services first ever Honor Guard to represent our community and serve our members should situations arise” stated Fire Chief James Bonzano. “This honor guard will provide one of the most visible and positive images for our department. Be it a parade, groundbreaking ceremony, sporting event, retirement or funeral, the presence alone of the honor guard immediately draws attention and raises the formality of the event” continued Chief Bonzano.
This weeklong academy consisted of a balance of informative classroom presentations and hands-on repetition of practical skills in an intense training format. Based on three key principles: preserve pride, honor and tradition; pay precise attention to detail; and build a network of local and national resources, this academy included training on basic drill and ceremonial movements; church and casket protocol; and flag etiquette.
Lieutenant Scott Richardson, Fire and Rescue Honor Guard Commander stated, “Our honor guard will be built on a foundation of honor, dignity and respect, with the utmost concern for the needs and wishes of the community, department members or affected family members.” “Our Honor Guard members share an overwhelming pride in the County of Warren and the Department of Fire and Rescue Services and will strive to reflect a positive image of both.”
For more information on the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Service Honor Guard or to learn how the Honor Guard can participate in your event, contact Commander Scott Richardson at 540-636-3830.
County Emergency Management Update of September 20
Below is Warren County Emergency Services Coordinator Rick Farrall’s “brief” update of Monday, September 20, 2021. It includes continued numbers showing the county lagging behind state-wide COVID-19 vaccination rate by nearly 20% – 40.3% compared to the state-wide rate of 58.8%; and ahead in cases-per-100,000 population that allows comparisons between larger and smaller communities – 545 cases-per here compared to state-wide rate of 292.8 (252 more cases per a 100,000 population than the state-wide average).
- Hazardous Weather (as of 10:11 AM EDT Mon Sept. 20, 2021).
(a) DAY ONE (Today and Tonight). No hazardous weather is expected at this time.
(b) DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN (Tuesday through Saturday). Isolated instances of flooding are possible Wednesday night into Thursday. Isolated severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts are possible Wednesday night into Thursday.
- COVID-19 Data (Summary).
(a) As of today (data from 9/12-9/18), the County’s rate of new cases per 100,000 persons is 545.0, and is considered “High” (by comparison, the State rate is 292.8, and is also considered “High”). Our percentage of PCR tests that are positive is reported at 15.5% (by comparison, the State rate is 11.1%).
(b) The County’s current hospitalization count is 3.5% and the death count is 1.5% of the case count.
(c) The County’s (COVID-19) fully vaccinated rate is 40.3%; the State rate is 58.8%.
(d) Recommend all County/Town citizens, employees, and employers reinforce basic public health preventative measures, as appropriate.
|COVID-19 Level of Community Transmission – Coronavirus
To determine the level of community transmission, CDC and VDH recommend the use of two measures: total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days and the percentage of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) including RT-PCR COVID-19 tests that are positive during the last 7 days.
- Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)
(a) The next scheduled LEPC meeting is to be determined; anticipate the meeting on November 18, 2021 (3:00 pm to 4:30 pm). Invitations and information to follow.