Va. COVID-19 rate now exceeds 10%
SW region sees large surges, while NoVa and Eastern Va. report increases
Virginia’s coronavirus rates continue to rise, with 21,035 new cases and 146 deaths in the past week, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s Dec. 7 update. As of Dec. 3, the state’s seven-day positivity rate was at 10.8%, a jump of more than 3% over the previous week.
In parts of Southwest Virginia, positivity rates have surpassed 20%, and Ballad Health, which runs most health care facilities in the region, has indefinitely suspended all elective surgery starting this week. Across the state, most health districts are reporting rates above 10%, including areas that haven’t seen surges since early spring and summer, such as Fairfax County and the Eastern Shore.
As of Monday, the state has recorded 258,870 total COVID-19 cases and 4,208 deaths. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association reports that 1,885 people are currently hospitalized with COVID, and 75% of ICU beds are currently in use among virus and non-COVID patients. The state has averaged 3,005 new cases a day over the past week, with 35.3 cases per 100,000, according to VDH.
Nationally, the country recorded 173,457 new cases and 1,111 deaths on Sunday, as the U.S. approaches 15 million total COVID-19 cases since February. Over the past week, the national average has been 196,826 cases per day, with numbers climbing since Thanksgiving.
In light of higher virus rates, Gov. Ralph Northam warned Virginians last week to avoid unnecessary travel and social gatherings, as well as reminding them to wear masks and washing hands consistently, but he did not enact new restrictions. Before Thanksgiving, Northam issued an executive order limiting gatherings to 25 people and requiring masks in public, indoor spaces for everyone aged 5 and older.
On Monday, VDH announced that it would prioritize certain segments of the population for contact tracing because of high levels of community transmission, including people diagnosed with COVID in the past six days and their households, people living or working in congregate living facilities, people involved in known clusters or outbreaks, and people at increased risk of severe illness.
Also, following new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, VDH says that people who were exposed to COVID but do not show symptoms can end quarantine after 10 days without testing, or after day seven following a negative PCR or antigen test performed after day five. Both VDH and the CDC continue to recommend 14 days of quarantine after last exposure as the safest option, however.
Last week brought some positive news, as COVID vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna work their way through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency approval process. VDH announced Friday that the state expects to receive 480,000 vaccine doses by the end of the month, starting with 72,000 doses mid-month from Pfizer, which may see its vaccine approved by the end of the week. The first wave of doses will go to frontline health care providers and residents of long-term care facilities, the two most vulnerable groups in the state. The U.K. announced it will launch a national vaccine drive Tuesday, aiming to vaccinate 20 million people in the next few months. It is the first Western country to start such a campaign.
The following health districts reported positivity rates above 10% as of Dec. 3:
- Alleghany (Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke counties and the cities of Covington and Salem) — 10.4%, up from 8.7% as of Nov. 26
- Central Shenandoah (Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge and Rockingham counties and the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro) — 14.5%, up from 7.8%
- Central Virginia (Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell counties and Lynchburg) — 15.1%, up from 9.0%
- Chesapeake — 11.5%, up from 9.6%
- Chickahominy (Charles City, Goochland, Hanover and New Kent counties) — 10.1%, up from 7.4%
- Cumberland Plateau (Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties) — 24.0%, up from 13.3%
- Eastern Shore (Accomack and Northampton counties) — 11.7%, up from 7.3%
- Fairfax — 11.5%, up from 7.6%
- Hampton — 11.9%, up from 7.4%
- Lenowisco (Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the city of Norton) — 22.4%, up from 14.3%
- Lord Fairfax (Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties and Winchester) — 11.8%, up from 9.5%
- Loudoun — 11.8%, up from 8.1%
- Mount Rogers (cities of Bristol and Galax and counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe) — 23.2%, up from 17.1%
- New River (Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski counties and Radford) — 12.7%, up from 7.3%
- Norfolk — 10.1%, up from 7.4%
- Piedmont (Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties) — 12.9%, up from 6.6%
- Pittsylvania-Danville — 14.3%, up from 10.6%
- Prince William — 15.6%, up from 10.9%
- Rappahannock (Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties and Fredericksburg) — 11.8%, up from 8.2%
- Roanoke — 12.2%, up from 11.0%
- Virginia Beach — 10.7%, up from 7.8%
- West Piedmont (Franklin, Henry and Patrick counties and the city of Martinsville) — 18.3%, up from 15.1%
Several Virginia universities report COVID-19 rates among students, faculty and staff members, although some universities use different reporting metrics and methods. Most closed for Thanksgiving break and will not resume classes in person until January. Virginia Business will share newly reported data as received, but some universities will not update dashboards regularly until next semester.
Here are the most current university stats:
- James Madison University: 1,681 total cases since July 1, with 15 reported last week as of Dec. 6.
- Virginia Tech: 1,745 positive tests since Aug. 3, with 19 new cases from Nov. 30-Dec. 6.
- University of Virginia: 1,332 positive cases among students and employees reported since Aug. 17. The university recorded 57 new cases from Nov. 25-Dec. 4.
- Virginia Commonwealth University: 521 total positive tests, including 451 student cases, as of Dec. 7.
- Old Dominion University: 243 positive cases out of 8,502 tests performed as of Dec. 7. From Nov. 29-Dec. 5, there were 36 new positive tests.
- George Mason University: 284 positive cases among students and employees between Aug. 17 and Dec. 6, including 73 positive tests in the past two weeks.
- Liberty University: 51 positive cases from Nov. 22-Dec. 1 among students and staff, out of a total 996 cases between Aug. 16-Dec. 1.
These are the 10 Virginia localities that have seen the most cases in the state, as of Dec. 7:
- Fairfax County: 33,762
- Prince William County: 19,498
- Virginia Beach: 11,965
- Loudoun County: 10,832
- Chesterfield County: 10,056
- Henrico County: 9,137
- Richmond: 7,176
- Chesapeake: 7,017
- Arlington County: 6,904
- Norfolk: 6,894
Globally, there are 67.2 million reported COVID-19 cases and 1,539,559 confirmed deaths as of Dec. 7. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 14.7 million confirmed cases so far, with 282,436 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February.