Va. nears 10k COVID cases in single day
Meanwhile, public health officials deal with expected U.S. vaccine shortfall
The state hit a new one-day record of nearly 10,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday. The rise in coronavirus infections comes amid a significant increase in coronavirus-related deaths, with approximately 49 fatalities a day, or two deaths per hour, occurring in the commonwealth last week.
Meanwhile, Virginia public health officials said they expect a decrease in the number of COVID vaccine doses in coming weeks, with the news that the federal government does not possess the vaccine reserves it had said were being held back for second shots.
Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccine coordinator, said that Virginia will continue vaccinating as many people as possible in priority groups 1a and 1b — which include health care workers, long-term care facility residents and employees, “essential workers,” people age 65 and older, and younger people with health issues.
Avula said that the state will not receive as many doses as it has since December — averaging between 100,000 and 110,000 first-shot doses per week — but he didn’t know yet how large the decrease will be, in part because federal officials, including Alex Azar, the Trump administration’s health and human services secretary, had said just days ago that the government would begin releasing doses.
“There’s definitely no planning three weeks from now,” Avula added, but he said that the state will not scale back the expansion of group 1b announced by Gov. Ralph Northam last week.
As of Monday, 324,965 vaccine doses have been administered out of 943,400 received, at an average of 16,432 shots per day. The state’s short-term goal is to reach 25,000 shots per day, and ultimately offer 50,000 shots per day, but that will not be able to happen until at least March, when pharmaceutical companies are able to produce enough doses.
Virginia’s apparent vaccination lag is related to data entry delays, Avula said Saturday. Hospitals, health districts, long-term care facilities and other facilities offering COVID shots are not entering their information promptly in the VDH vaccine database, which provides daily updates on vaccination numbers. He has assigned a 10-member team to address the problem starting Monday, and Avula said he expects vaccination data to change fairly dramatically in coming days as reported stats catch up with how many shots have been given.
About 6,000 people in the Richmond area mistakenly received a sign-up link in an email from Henrico County last week. A technological error led to the mistake, and people in the city of Richmond and Goochland, Hanover and Henrico counties flooded a website to sign up for the shots, which were only supposed to go to school and public safety workers. The residents who weren’t supposed to sign up will not be able to receive the vaccine, according to Henrico officials, but they do not expect the same error to occur again.
Beginning this week, more of the state’s health districts have entered phase 1b, including all of Northern and Southwest Virginia, as well as the Richmond region, Roanoke and New River valleys, Chesapeake and most of Southern Virginia. Central Shenandoah, Central Virginia, Crater, Hampton, Norfolk, Peninsula, Piedmont, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, West Piedmont and Western Tidewater districts are still in phase 1a, according to VDH.
The state saw 43,164 new COVID-19 cases since Jan. 11 — including a one-day record of 9,914 cases on Sunday — and 346 deaths last week, bringing totals to 446,550 cases and 5,739 deaths. Virginia’s current seven-day positivity rate is 14%, as of Jan. 14.
According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, 3,151 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 or have tests pending, and 35% of all ventilators and 55% of ICU beds are in use for COVID and non-COVID patients. Hospitals have administered 175,987 vaccine doses as of Jan. 12, VHHA reported.
As of Jan. 14, most of the state’s health districts have positivity rates above 10%. The state’s highest rates and/or sharpest one-week spikes are in the following districts:
- Chesapeake — 22.8%, down from 23.3% on Jan. 7
- West Piedmont (Franklin, Henry and Patrick counties and the city of Martinsville) — 19.7%, down from 21.0%
- Portsmouth — 19.6%, down from 23.0%
- Lenowisco (Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the city of Norton) — 19.1%, down from 22.9%
- Mount Rogers (cities of Bristol and Galax and counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe) — 18.9%, down from 24.3%
- Western Tidewater (Isle of Wight and Southampton counties and the cities of Franklin and Suffolk) — 18.7%, down from 21.4%
- Eastern Shore (Accomack and Northampton counties) — 18.3%, down from 23.8%
- Peninsula (Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City and York counties) — 17.8%, down from 21.6%
- Virginia Beach — 17.8%, down from 20.9%
- Norfolk— 17.4%, up from 17.1%
- Hampton — 17.0%, down from 25.2%
These are the 10 Virginia localities that have seen the most cases in the state, as of Jan. 18:
- Fairfax County: 54,605
- Prince William County: 31,927
- Virginia Beach: 22,857
- Loudoun County: 17,014
- Chesterfield County: 16,641
- Henrico County: 16,163
- Chesapeake: 12,807
- Richmond: 11,416
- Norfolk: 11,294
- Arlington County: 10,790
Globally, there are 95.3 million reported COVID-19 cases and 2,035,605 confirmed deaths, as of Jan. 18. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 23.9 million confirmed cases so far, with 398,142 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February.