Virginia tops 800,000 COVID-19 cases; more than 2,000 hospitalized again
Virginia reported its 800,000th COVID-19 case on Friday, as over 2,000 residents are hospitalized statewide for treatment of the virus for the first time since mid-February, according to new data Friday.
However, the increase in cases seems to be hitting a plateau. In addition, the biggest increase in hospitalizations is occurring elsewhere in the state, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
In Rappahannock County, 15 new COVID-19 cases have been reported since last Friday, raising the county total to 470. That's down from 28 new cases last week and 30 cases the week before. However, a third county resident died due to the virus this week, the first death here since last summer. Hospitalizations also increased by 2 this week to a total of 17 since the start of the pandemic last March. Previously, hospitalizations had been largely stable in recent months.
Northern Virginia did report 640 new cases on Friday, the most in the region since March 26. However, the Virginia Department of Health noted that all refugees from Afghanistan arriving at Dulles International Airport are being tested for COVID-19, and those test results — along with any positive cases — are being reported as part of Loudoun County's numbers, which would inflate the Northern Virginia numbers as a whole. Through late August, about 14,000 refugees had arrived at Dulles.
The sparsely populated Southwest region saw the biggest jump in new cases this week, reporting 1,468 cases Friday, its highest number ever.
The state's seven-day average is 3,380 cases a day, up less than 1% from a week earlier but still more than triple the average a year ago — before any vaccine was available. Northern Virginia's new case average is 95% above its level on the same date last year.
Hospitalizations for treatment of the virus have continued to increase, rising another 13.6% this week to 2,150 patients being treated statewide for COVID-19, as of Friday, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. Although that is still well below the January peak of over 3,200 patients, hospitalizations had fallen as low as 195 on July 5. The number of hospitalizations is nearly double what it was was on the same date in 2020.
Julian Walker, a spokesman for the association, said the increase in hospitalizations is not nearly as pronounced or sharp in Northern Virginia as it has been in other areas of the state, especially the Central and Eastern regions. In Southwest Virginia, Ballad Health — the region's major health-care system — is also reporting a sharp increase in hospitalizations.
Deaths have continued to rise as well, following the summer surge. The health department reported 137 new COVID-related deaths this week, the most since the week ending April 9. The number of deaths per week was as few as 23 in late July, just as the Delta variant began spreading rapidly. Throughout the pandemic, deaths have been a trailing indicator, often starting to rise three to four weeks after an increase in cases.
Updated data on selected outbreaks across the state shows five outbreaks in our region, mostly at senior care centers: Autumn Care in Madison; Dogwood Village and Trinity Senior Village in Orange; Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury and Mountain View Christian Academy in Frederick County.
The health department's dashboard showing the number of breakthrough infections show that between Jan. 17 and Sept. 4, 5,750 infections had been reported in fully vaccinated people in Northern Virginia, resulting in 18 deaths. Statewide, over 20,100 such infections had been reported, a small percentage of the nearly 361,000 overall cases reported in that time.
The health department says the data show that unvaccinated people are 8.5 times more likely to develop COVID-19 than fully vaccinated individuals and are 9.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
The pace of vaccinations statewide has slowed over the past week to 13,500 a day, according to the state's vaccination dashboard, although that could be due to the Labor Day holiday weekend. Vaccinations were as low as 11,000 a day in early July but had been as high as 86,000 a day in late March.
As of Thursday, over 10.12 million vaccine doses had been administered to Virginians, with 68.8% of the adult population and 67.7% of the total population now fully vaccinated.
The state's average positivity rate for diagnostic tests remains above 10%, at which point experts believe the spread of the virus is out of control and not all cases are being captured. Northern Virginia positivity rates remain significantly below the state level, however, and in fact the rate fell in all of the region's health districts over the past week. The health department noted that Loudoun's rate is affected by the tests of the Afghan refugees.
LATEST COVID-19 DATA
New Cases/Deaths (Seven days ending Friday, Sept. 10)
Rappahannock County: 15 new cases (down from 28 prior week); 1 new death (up from 0 prior week)
Statewide: 23,660 new cases (up from 23,515 prior week), 137 new deaths (up from 130 prior week)
Statewide Testing: 157,460 PCR diagnostic test results (down from 163,016 prior week)
Rappahannock County: 470 cases, 3 deaths
Statewide: 801,827 cases, 12,036 deaths
Statewide Testing: 8.8 million PCR diagnostic tests (12 million when including antibody and antigen tests)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) cases: 83. No new cases reported statewide this week.
*Provided by Virginia Department of Health. The health department's COVID-19 data is updated each morning (Monday through Friday) by 10 a.m. and includes reports by local health agencies before 5 p.m. the previous day.
Statewide Hospital Data (as of Friday, Sept. 10)
Hospitalizations: 2,150 (up from 1,892 on Sept. 3)
Peak Hospitalizations: 3,209 reached Jan. 13
Patients in ICU: 513 (up from 466 on Sept. 3)
Patients Discharged: 64,204 (1,252 this week)
*Provided by Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association
For updated national and international COVID-19 data, visit the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard.
Editor's note: The Rappahannock News is providing regular COVID-19 updates every week. For daily reports, visit the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard.