Nearest outbreak is in Fauquier’s public schools
The Virginia Department of Health has resumed reporting details of some outbreaks of COVID-19 after pulling the information from its dashboard about two months ago.
In a news release Wednesday, the department said the dashboard is being reinstated because of the rapid increase in transmission of COVID-19 across the state spurred by the Delta variant, which has resulted in an increase in cases and outbreaks in congregate and communal settings.
On Wednesday, the state reported 3,453 new cases of coronavirus, the most in a single day since Feb. 11.
The data posted by the health department include selected outbreaks reported to it since Aug. 1. The dashboard does not include all outbreaks, only those that occurred in medical care facilities; residential or day programs licensed by the health department, Department of Social Services or Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services; summer camps; K-12 schools; colleges and universities and long-term care facilities.
An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed positive cases that can be traced to the same setting.
The initial dashboard shows 25 outbreaks considered "in progress" across the state, including one close to Rappahannock County in the Fauquier County Public Schools, which was reported Aug. 3 and has resulted in seven positive cases. That is one of eight outbreaks statewide in K-12 schools.
The most serious current outbreak is at Commonwealth Senior Living in Halifax County in southern Virginia, where 40 positive cases have been reported.
None of the outbreaks currently reported has resulted in any deaths; however, COVID-related deaths tend to be a lagging indicator because they take several weeks to be reported and verified.
In the early months of the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of all COVID-related deaths in Northern Virginia occurred due to outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
The health department said the outbreaks dashboard will be updated weekly, on Fridays.
After declining to provide specifics on outbreaks last year, the state health department was forced to do so by legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly in a special session last fall. However, that requirement expired with the end of the state's declaration of emergency on June 30, and the outbreaks dashboard was discontinued at that time.
The health department said in the release Wednesday that Dr. Norman Oliver, the state's health commissioner, was granting an exemption to resume reporting the outbreaks data under a section of state code that allows the commissioner "to divulge the identity of ... patients and practitioners if pertinent to an investigation, research or study."