The B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 is close to becoming the predominant strain in the state, according to the latest weekly update from the University of Virginia's Biocomplexity Institute.
The institute warns that if the B.1.1.7 variant, which is more contagious, becomes more dominant, the state could experience another peak in cases this summer that would be worse than the January peak.
"Under the current course, model scenarios show that cases peaked at 68 average daily cases per 100,000 residents during the week ending Jan. 24.," according to the institute's report. "However, under the Fatigued Control - Variant B.1.1.7 scenario, if Virginians relax their behavior as new variants take hold, cases will reach a new peak with 115 average daily cases per 100,000 the week ending June 27."
"Unfortunately, case counts are not continuing to decline as vaccination coverage continues to improve," the institute wrote. "This does not mean that vaccinations are not working, but rather that other factors are in play, including less social distancing and the B.1.1.7 variant."
The number of new cases statewide has ticked down slightly over the past several days, according to the latest data from the Virginia Department of Health. Through Sunday, Virginia's seven-day average of new cases was down to 1,397.4. That's down 6.5% in the past week and 3.8% in the past two weeks, but only down 6.1% in the past month, despite a significant increase in the number of vaccinations. It is also still at a level similar to early November, before the holiday surge.
As with cases, hospitalizations for treatment of COVID-19 have trended in a narrow range — around 1,000 patients over the past 10 days after falling dramatically from a high of 3,209 in mid-January to as low as 973 on March 24. In Northern Virginia, 227 patients were hospitalized as of Sunday, but that number had been as low as 195 on March 20, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
The health department has reported 87 new deaths related to COVID-19 over the past five days, including 42 on Sunday.
Generally, the percentage of positive diagnostic test results has increased statewide. The state's seven-day average rate was as low as 5.5% several weeks ago but is now up to 6.4%.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health's vaccine dashboard showed Sunday that almost 2.77 million Virginians have received at least one dose of a vaccine, representing over 30% of the state's population of about 8.5 million. Because vaccines are not yet approved for children under age 16, the percentage of adults who have received at least one dose is significantly higher.
In addition, the health department reports that another 225,000 doses of vaccines have been administered in Virginia by the federal government. These numbers were previously not included in Virginia reports and include doses administered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Defense.
About 17.8% of the state's residents have been fully vaccinated, either with two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state is currently averaging about 75,000 doses of vaccines per day, its highest pace thus far. It set a record on Wednesday, March 31, when over 104,000 vaccine doses were administered statewide.
LATEST COVID-19 DATA
Statewide: 1,267 new cases, 42 new deaths.
Statewide Testing: 21,451 PCR diagnostic test results.
Statewide: 625,148 cases, 10,329 deaths
Statewide Testing: 6.57 million PCR diagnostic tests (8.53 million when including antibody and antigen tests)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) cases: 50
* Provided by Virginia Department of Health. The health department's COVID-19 data is updated each morning by 10 a.m. and includes reports by local health agencies before 5 p.m. the previous day.
Statewide Hospital and Nursing Home Data
Hospitalizations: 1,035 (up from 1,022 the previous day)
Peak Hospitalizations: 3,209 reached Jan. 13
Patients in ICU: 259 (up from 233 the previous day)
Patients Discharged: 51,818
- Nursing Home Patients: 134 as of Saturday (fewest to date; no report Sundays or Mondays)
*Provided by Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association
For updated national and international COVID-19 data, visit the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard.