Virginia COVID-19 cases rise by 1,002 on Friday

964,222 tests have been run for the virus in Virginia, with 75,433 positive cases.
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 10:34 AM EDT
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As of Friday, July 17, Virginia has had 75,433 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That’s a rise of 1,002 positive cases since Wednesday, out of 17,605 tests newly added to the system, which comes out to 5.7% of the newest tests coming back positive.

On Tuesday, July 14, Gov. Northam held a COVID-19 briefing on his Facebook page urging the commonwealth to keep practicing social distancing and to follow the mask mandate. Gov. Northam said that the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia’s ABC teams will begin to conduct random visits to businesses and restaurants throughout the state to ensure that these organizations are following the latest COVID-19 guidelines. Licenses for these businesses can be revoked if they are not following the guidelines.

On Wednesday, July 1, the commonwealth moved into Phase 3 of Governor Ralph Northam’s ‘Forward Virginia’ plan for reopening, which allowed nonessential retail businesses to fully open, restaurants to fully open without bar seating, gyms to open at 75% capacity, entertainment venues to open at 50% capacity and gatherings of up to 250 people.

State officials are basing any decisions about moving into each phase, as well as any potential fallback to previous restrictions if spikes happen, on 7-day and 14-day trends in the data.

For the past several weeks, those trends have been good news: with increasing test capacity, decreasing percentage positivity (the number of cases confirmed as a ratio of the amount of testing), and decreasing hospitalizations — though other states around the country have seen new spikes.

This week, there were 801 newly reported cases (at 4.6% positivity) from Monday to Tuesday, 1,084 newly reported cases (at 7% positivity) from Tuesday to Wednesday, 904 newly reported cases (at 5.1% positivity) from Wednesday to Thursday and 1,002 newly reported cases (at 5.7% positivity) from Thursday to Friday.

Most tests are PCR tests that take several days to process, and the majority of people still only get tested when symptomatic. Symptoms can take up to two weeks to develop, so test results reported each day reflect what the situation in Virginia looked like several days before. Antibody tests process results faster, but test whether someone has had the virus in the past: not necessarily if they currently have it, and their reliability is lower.

Virginia has been meeting the governor’s benchmark of steady PPE supplies and open hospital capacity for more than a month now, with 3,534 hospital beds available and no Virginia hospitals reporting any supply problems – although 2 licensed nursing facilities are reporting PPE supply problems.

The commonwealth increased from around 2,000 tests a day in late April to the 5,000 range in the start of May, and was steadily hitting around 10,000 a day by the end of May, which Dr. Karen Remley, head of Virginia’s testing task force, said was the goal for Phase 1. Over the most recent weeks, testing has stayed in the range of around 8,000 to 15,000 a day.

The executive order requiring Virginians to wear face coverings when entering indoor businesses that went into effect across Virginia on May 29 will remain in effect indefinitely into the future.

Statewide case totals and testing numbers as of July 17

By July 17, the Virginia Department of Health had received reports of 72,516 confirmed cases and 2,917 probable cases of COVID-19 across the commonwealth.

"Probable" cases are cases that were diagnosed by a doctor based on symptoms and exposure without a test – also known as clinical diagnoses.

Those positive test results are out of total tests administered in Virginia, which included 873,787 PCR tests and 90,435 antibody tests (The Dept. of Health announced in May that they would break testing data down by diagnostic and antibody tests.)

A lot of the testing has been conducted through health department-sponsored community testing events around the commonwealth, through which state health officials have said the goal is to get tests into areas in the most need, and those events do not turn anyone away, regardless of symptoms.

Overall, considering testing numbers and positive results, about 7.8% of Virginians who have been tested have received positive results. At the start of May, that percentage was standing steadily around 17%, but with increased testing and decreased case rates, it’s come down over time. However, some localities have higher percentages, as outlined in our “local cases” section below.

At this point, 7,087 Virginians have been hospitalized due to the disease caused by the virus, and at least 2,013 have died of causes related to the disease (an additional six deaths since Wednesday).

The hospitalization and death numbers are totals confirmed by the Virginia Department of Health, which are always delayed by several days due to the logistics of medical facilities reporting information to local health districts, which then report it to the state health department.

The hospitalization numbers are cumulative — they represent the total number of people hospitalized due to the disease throughout the pandemic and not the total number currently in the hospital. For current hospitalization stats, the VHHA offers more helpful data.

The state website shows a lot of detail by locality, including hospitalizations and deaths for each city or county, and are broken down by zip code here, if you want to track cases on a neighborhood level.

Where are our local cases?

The department’s breakdown and location map, available to the public here, shows the number of cases confirmed each day, number of people tested, total hospitalizations, total deaths, demographic breakdowns, and testing numbers, as well as breakdowns by health district.

Here’s a breakdown of cases for our region as of 10:00 a.m. July 17. You can find the breakdown for the entire state in the chart at the bottom of this article.

Numbers sometimes decrease day to day when the health department determines that a test initially reported in one locality was actually for a resident of another city, county, or state.

Central Shenandoah Health District: 2,381 total cases

• Augusta County - 221 (+2 from Thursday)

• Bath County - 2

• Buena Vista - 26 (+1 from Thursday)

• Harrisonburg - 1,001 (+2 from Thursday)

• Highland County - 3

• Lexington - 23 (+3 from Thursday)

• Rockbridge County - 42 (+1 from Thursday)

• Rockingham County - 814 (+6 from Thursday)

• Staunton - 112 (+4 from Thursday)

• Waynesboro - 137 (+4 from Thursday)

Outbreaks: 21, with 7 in long-term care facilities, 1 in a healthcare setting, 1q in congregate settings, 1 in a correctional facility, and 1 in an educational setting | 685 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests: 26,188

Local percent positive: 9.1%

Lord Fairfax Health District: 2,273 total cases

• Clarke County - 61

• Frederick County - 575 (+5 from Thursday)

• Page County - 312 (+3 from Thursday)

• Shenandoah County - 637 (+4 from Thursday)

• Warren County - 322 (+4 from Thursday)

• Winchester - 366 (+5 from Thursday)

Outbreaks: 29, with 11 in long-term care facilities, 7 in healthcare settings, 10 in congregate settings, and 1 in a correctional facility | 754 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests: 28,025

Local percent positive: 8.1%

Thomas Jefferson Health District: 1,335 total cases

• Albemarle County - 593 (+10 from Thursday)

• Charlottesville - 333 (+5 from Thursday)

• Fluvanna County - 142 (+3 from Thursday)

• Greene County - 92 (+4 from Thursday)

• Louisa County - 147 (+4 from Thursday)

• Nelson County - 28 (+1 from Thursday)

Outbreaks: 19, with 8 in long-term care facilities, 7 in congregate settings, 2 in correctional facilities, and 2 in educational settings | 260 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests: 29,577

Local percent positive: 4.5%

Rappahannock Rapidan: 1,653 total cases

• Culpeper County - 885 (+12 from Thursday)

• Fauquier County - 511 (+7 from Thursday)

• Madison County - 51 (+2 from Thursday)

• Orange County - 171 (+2 from Thursday)

• Rappahannock County - 35 (+3 from Thursday)

Outbreaks: 9, with 3 in long-term care facilities, 1 in healthcare settings, and 5 in congregate settings | 142 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests: 18,460

Local percent positive: 9%


Wondering about the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Virginia? Recovery information is not required to be sent to the Department of Health, so there is no accurate way to track that data for every single confirmed case. Individual health districts may track cases as "active" and "non-active," but that data is not published anywhere in aggregate.

But there is a way to track the number of patients who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 and have since been discharged – effectively tracking how many people have recovered from the most severe cases.

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association updates their own dashboard of data each day on hospital-specific statistics, including bed availability, ventilator usage, and more. Their online dashboard indicates that, as of July 17, at least 9,883 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from the hospital.

Unlike the VDH data that reports cumulative hospitalizations, their data on hospitalizations reflects people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 (whether with confirmed or pending cases), and that number is at 1,171.

The data used by the VDH to report cumulative hospitalizations is based on information reported in hospital claims. On the other hand, the numbers reported by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association are based on a current census from hospitals, which provides a separate data set.

West Virginia updates

In the part of West Virginia we cover, there have been 21 cases in Grant County, 49 cases in Hardy County, and 18 cases, along with one death, in Pendleton County.

Timing of VDH data

The Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 website is updating with the latest statewide numbers somewhere between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day.

The numbers that appear on that list are based on the cases that had been submitted to the department by 5 p.m. the previous day, so there is always some lag between when local health districts announce positive test results and when the department’s numbers reflect those new results.

Reporting by local health districts

Our Virginia counties are primarily served by the Central Shenandoah Health District, which covers Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge and Rockingham counties, as well as the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro; and the Lord Fairfax Health District, which covers Shenandoah, Page, Frederick, Warren, and Clarke counties, as well as the city of Winchester.

The statewide situation in Virginia

On Tuesday, July 14, Gov. Northam held a COVID-19 briefing on his Facebook page urging the commonwealth to keep practicing social distancing and to follow the mask mandate. Northam said that the eastern region of the commonwealth has seen an increase in the percent positivity rate of COVID-19 cases. The Virginia Department of Health and Virginia’s ABC teams will begin to conduct random visits to businesses and restaurants throughout the state to ensure that these organizations are following the latest COVID-19 guidelines.

Virginia officially entered Phase 3 on Wednesday, July 1. Nonessential retail businesses are permitted to fully open, along with restaurants, as long as there is no bar seating. Gyms can be open at 75% capacity, and entertainment venues can be open at 50% capacity. There is a 250-person gathering limit.

Executive Order 63 will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, making it mandatory for almost all Virginians to wear face coverings when entering businesses. You can learn how that can be enforced here.

Executive Order 55, the ‘Stay at Home’ order first signed by Northam on March 30, is now a ‘Safer at Home’ order, encouraging Virginians to continue staying home whenever possible as the safest way to prevent COVID-19′s spread and specifically telling Virginians vulnerable to the virus to stay home except for essential needs.

Virginia's state of emergency, which was originally set until June 10, was extended by Governor Northam on May 26 to run indefinitely.

The Virginia Supreme Court’s judicial emergency, which suspended all non-essential, non-emergency court hearings, expired on May 17 and court hearings across most of Virginia resumed on Monday, May 18. But a few weeks later, on June 8, the Supreme Court of Virginia acted on Gov. Northam’s request to halt all eviction proceedings through at least June 28.

DMV offices in Virginia began gradually reopening on Monday, May 18, and continue to open up more customer service centers around the state for appointments to handle business that can only be carried out in-person.

Extensions have been granted to people with expiring credentials for themselves or their vehicles, like licenses and registrations, and Virginia State Police have not been enforcing inspections.

More information on Virginia entering Phase 3 can be found here.

What to know about preventing the virus

Most people don't suffer much from COVID-19, but it can cause severe illness in the elderly and people with existing health problems.

It spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract the virus by touching those objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. In a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can cause death, particularly among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Avoid contact with sick people.

• Avoid non-essential travel.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent or antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. The best way to avoid illness is preventing exposure, which is why governments around the world have implemented Stay at Home orders.

For the latest factual information on COVID-19, you’re encouraged to check both the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC.

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