State COVID-19 cases continue to climb
U.Va. model predicts 400,000+ more Va. cases in 2021
The state saw 25,741 new COVID-19 cases and 240 more deaths last week, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s Dec. 21 update. The current seven-day positivity rate is 11.4%, an increase from 10.9% a week ago.
The increase comes as a COVID-19 model developed at the University of Virginia predicts an additional 402,000 people in the state will test positive for the virus in 2021. Virginia has surpassed 310,000 cases for 2020.
The average number of daily new cases is 3,677, with 43.2 new daily cases per 100,000 people, VDH reports, and there have been 310,890 cases and 4,654 deaths since March.
Virginia’s frontline health care workers began receiving COVID-19 vaccines last week as a first shipment of 72,000 doses arrived from Pfizer Inc. On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, and initial shipments left a Memphis, Tennessee, distribution center Sunday night.
Virginia expects to receive 370,650 doses of both vaccines by the end of the year, VDH said Friday, a decrease from the 480,000 doses announced earlier this month. The first priority groups receiving the vaccine will be health care providers working with COVID-19 patients and staff and residents of long-term care facilities, VDH said. The state has ordered 146,400 Moderna vaccine doses, which are expected to arrive the week of Dec. 21. So far, 18 hospitals have received the Pfizer vaccine and have begun initial inoculations; the vaccine works via two doses.
Gov. Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver have said that it will likely take several months, through early summer 2021, for all Virginians to be vaccinated.
As the numbers of COVID patients grow statewide and across the nation, hospitals have begun feeling significant strain in Virginia. According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, which tracks COVID hospitalizations at 115 hospitals across the commonwealth, 2,442 coronavirus patients are currently in hospital beds, and 80% of Virginia’s 3,560 ICU beds are filled with virus and non-virus patients, while 33% of all ventilators in Virginia are in use. On Monday, the state entered a second week under stricter social distancing limits, with Northam issuing a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people as well a nightly curfew.
VDH also launched a new COVID outbreak dashboard updated weekly on Fridays that gives specific locations of virus outbreaks across the state and the number of people who tested positive. As of Dec. 18, the largest outbreaks include: Heritage Hall in Big Stone Gap, Wise County (219 cases; 34 deaths); South Boston Health and Rehab, Halifax County (204 cases; 12 deaths); and Valley Health Care Center, Smyth County (182 cases; 26 deaths). Also, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections, the number of active cases among inmates and staff has reached 1,364, the highest number of cases recorded so far in the pandemic.
The following health districts reported positivity rates above 10% as of Dec. 17:
- Central Shenandoah (Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge and Rockingham counties and the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro) — 15.1%, down from 16.3% on Dec. 11
- Central Virginia (Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell counties and Lynchburg) — 17.7%, up from 15.5%
- Chesapeake — 14.7%, up from 12.8%
- Chesterfield — 10.7%, up from 10.1%
- Cumberland Plateau (Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties) — 19.6%, down from 20.8%
- Eastern Shore (Accomack and Northampton counties) — 10.4%, down from 10.7%
- Fairfax — 10.8%, up from 10.6%
- Hampton — 13.7%, up from 12.3%
- Lenowisco (Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the city of Norton) — 23.3%, up from 21.6%
- Lord Fairfax (Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties and Winchester) — 11.9%, down from 13.2%
- Loudoun — 11.6%, down from 12.1%
- Mount Rogers (cities of Bristol and Galax and counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe) — 22.3%, up from 21.9%
- New River (Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski counties and Radford) — 10.6%, down from 12.0%
- Norfolk — 12.3%, up from 11.5%
- Peninsula (Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City and York counties) — 11.7%, up from 10.8%
- Piedmont (Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties) — 17.5%, up from 8.7%
- Pittsylvania-Danville — 13,0%, up from 12.4%
- Portsmouth — 14.2%, up from 11.7%
- Prince William — 16.4%, up from 15.4%
- Rappahannock (Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties and Fredericksburg) — 12.3%, up from 11.3%
- Roanoke — 13.8%, up from 12.6%
- Virginia Beach — 14.3%, up from 10.7%
- West Piedmont (Franklin, Henry and Patrick counties and the city of Martinsville) — 16.2%, down from 16.4%
- Western Tidewater (Isle of Wight and Southampton counties and cities of Franklin and Suffolk) — 12.8%, up from 10.3%
These are the 10 Virginia localities that have seen the most cases in the state, as of Dec. 21:
- Fairfax County: 40,121
- Prince William County: 22,734
- Virginia Beach: 14,436
- Loudoun County: 12,861
- Chesterfield County: 11,678
- Henrico County: 10,924
- Chesapeake: 8,435
- Richmond: 8,349
- Arlington County: 8,054
- Norfolk: 7,823
Globally, there are 76.9 million reported COVID-19 cases and 1,695,846 confirmed deaths, as of Dec. 21. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 17.8 million confirmed cases so far, with 317,729 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February.