COVID roundup: 28% of Va. population vaccinated
Restrictions to be eased April 1
As of Monday, March 29, 28.1% of Virginians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 15% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
So far, 3.5 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide, and 2.3 million people have been vaccinated with at least one dose. The state is averaging 59,538 administered doses daily, VDH reported. New infections increased last week by 10,542 cases, a small climb from the previous week. The current seven-day positivity rate statewide is 5.8%, up .2% from the previous week. VDH also recorded 92 more COVID-related deaths last week. As of Monday, the state has 616,509 total cases and 10,219 deaths.
Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccine coordinator, said Friday that the Richmond region and Northern Virginia will be receiving a significant increase in vaccine doses beginning this week. This move comes after higher risk residents from around the state have received their shots, addressing greater demand that has led some people to drive several hours seeking the vaccine. Avula said he expects Northern Virginia to receive 20% to 30% more doses this week than last week. Meanwhile, more regions of Virginia have moved to phase 1c, including Southwest, Southern and northwestern Virginia, as well as the Eastern Shore and the Fredericksburg area.
Group 1c includes people working in energy, higher education, finance, legal and housing and construction sectors, as well as water, waste removal, food service, transportation and logistics, information technology and communication, media and public safety, and public health workers not included in earlier vaccination phases.
Gov. Ralph Northam will lift some restrictions starting April 1, he announced last week, increasing attendance caps at entertainment venues and sporting events, and allowing gatherings of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors at private events, which include weddings. On Friday, a federal judge denied an injunction that would have allowed more people to attend weddings, in a suit brought against the governor by a Franklin County wedding venue.
Northam said last week he hopes to loosen more restrictions by May 1, if the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline in the state.
All adult residents of Virginia can now register to get vaccinated at vaccinate.virginia.gov or call (877) VAX-IN-VA, or (877) 829-4682. Depending on locality, people in groups 1b and 1c are now eligible for vaccination, and pharmacies now have started vaccinating people under the age of 65, including people with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers in group 1b.
The state now ranks 12th in the nation for its percentage of vaccine doses administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed by Becker’s Hospital Review.
With race and ethnicity information available for only 63.3% of people who have received shots in the state, the majority of shots have been received by white, non-Hispanic people — 68% as of Monday, according to VDH. Black Virginians have received 14.1% of shots, although they make up 19.9% of the state’s population, according to 2019 estimates by the U.S. Census; 7.1% of vaccines were given to Latino residents, who comprise about 9.8% of Virginians.
State health officials have focused attention on equitable administration of vaccinations, especially as Latino and Black residents are heavily represented among people who have been infected, hospitalized and died from the coronavirus. Among Virginia’s COVID deaths for which ethnicity and race were recorded, 24.5% were Black, and 6.5% were Latino.
As of March 25, the following health districts have positivity rates of 10% or higher:
- Hampton — 12.6%, down from 13.9% on March 18
- Portsmouth — 10.1%, down from 11.1%
Globally, there are 127.3 million reported COVID-19 cases and 2,785,838 confirmed deaths, as of March 29. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 30.2 million confirmed cases so far, with 549,364 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February 2020.