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COVID-19 cases across Virginia hit 6,500, deaths rise to 195

Graphic provided by the Virginia Dept. of Health
Graphic provided by the Virginia Dept. of Health(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 15, 2020 at 9:07 AM EDT
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As of Wednesday, April 15, the Virginia Department of Health has received 6,500 positive or presumptive positive tests for COVID-19 across the commonwealth.

New positive test results have accelerated rapidly in the past week, with Virginia crossing 2,000 cases on Friday, April 3; 3,000 cases by Tuesday, April 7; 4,000 cases by Thursday, April 9; 5,000 by Saturday, April 11; and 6,000 by Tuesday, April 14.

This past weekend saw Virginia's largest one-day increases in cases two days in a row.

It is important to remember that many tests still take days to process – up to a week and a half for some commercial labs – and then sometimes a day or two for the results to be submitted to the Department of Health, so the official tally of cases always reflects where testing was several days before. As testing capacity increases in Virginia, the confirmed cases increase too.

But researchers are also extremely confident there are many more people with positive cases who have not been tested because they didn't show symptoms, but can still pass the virus on to others.

Case totals as of April 15

By April 15, the Virginia Department of Health had confirmed 6,500 cases of COVID-19 across the commonwealth.

Those positive test results are out of 44,169 people that have been tested in Virginia, which comes out to about 14.7% of Virginians tested for the coronavirus receiving positive results.

At this point, 1,048 Virginians have been hospitalized due to the disease caused by the virus, and 195 have died of causes related to the disease. That's a jump of 41 deaths from the day before.

The hospitalization numbers are cumulative — they represent the total number of people hospitalized due to the disease throughout the outbreak and not the total number currently in the hospital.

Recovery

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.

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

indicates that, as of April 15, at least 752 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from the hospital. Their data on hospitals is more current than VDH data, though, so they also show 1,298 patients currently hospitalized due to the virus.

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.

Timing of VDH data

The

is updating with the latest statewide numbers at 9 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.

Local cases

In our area, as of April 15, there were at least 18 confirmed cases in Augusta County, 101 cases in Harrisonburg, 67 cases in Rockingham County, 6 cases in Page County, 27 cases in Shenandoah County, 2 cases in Staunton, 6 cases in Waynesboro, 73 cases in Frederick County, 21 cases in Winchester, and 3 cases in Rockbridge County, along with 3 in Lexington.

The Central Shenandoah Health District has 4 identified outbreaks and the Lord Fairfax Health District has 7.

While health department officials have not specified the locations of those outbreaks, WHSV

is the location of the Central Shenandoah Health District's outbreak in a long-term care center. We're working to identify the locations of the other noted outbreaks as well.

Of the state's total hospitalizations, at least six have been in the Central Shenandoah Health District, which

, but would not identify the exact location of that death.

Just to the east, there have been at least 53 cases in Albemarle County, 38 in Charlottesville, 5 in Greene County, and 5 in Nelson County. There have been 15 hospitalizations there.

In the part of West Virginia we cover, one case has been confirmed

, two cases

, and one case in Grant County.

The numbers provided here are a blend of the data provided by the Virginia Department of Health and case updates provided directly by our local health districts.

Why do some cases that have been confirmed in my area not appear on the state map?

The VDH numbers always lag behind the numbers reported by local health districts because of multiple factors.

First, they're based on the test results that healthcare providers and laboratories submitted to the department by 5 p.m. the previous day, so any positive cases announced in the late afternoon or evening, as well as on the day of the case count update, cannot appear on the department's list.

In addition, representatives for local health districts have told us their first priority when a new case is confirmed in their district is to

to let anyone who may have potentially been exposed to the virus know. With that as the priority, sometimes reporting of local cases to the Virginia Department of Health falls lower on the ladder and those results may not show up on the state tally for another day or two.

Plus, the exact locations of cases can sometimes appear differently on the state map than they do for local health districts that know their localities better.

Considering all of those factors, as an example, the April 2 state website update did not show one case in Staunton that the Central Shenandoah Health District

, though it had updated to show two cases confirmed in Augusta County at the same time.

There was also, for the first few weeks as cases began to rise in Virginia, a glitch in the system for updates from the Lord Fairfax Health District being sent to the Department of Health that caused some of their numbers to not display correctly. However, as of April 6, Dr. Greene, representing the district, said that issue had been resolved.

With those lapses between local case reporting and the VDH, while we report every morning on the latest statewide totals, we're also reporting local case numbers based on results directly confirmed to us by local health districts.

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.

Where are all the confirmed cases?

According to the Virginia Department of Health's April 15 breakdown, 44,169 people in Virginia had been tested for the virus, with 6,500 positive results.

Their breakdown and location map, available to the public

, shows the number of cases confirmed each day, number of people tested, total hospitalizations, total deaths, and demographic breakdowns, as well as breakdowns by health district.

Here's the full breakdown of cases as of 9:15 a.m. on April 15, starting with our most local cases and then broken down by health districts across the state (Note that not all cases confirmed by local districts yet appear on the statewide list):

Central Shenandoah

• Augusta County - 18

• Buena Vista - 4

• Harrisonburg - 101

• Lexington - 3

• Rockbridge County - 3

• Rockingham County - 67

• Staunton - 2

• Waynesboro - 6

Outbreaks:

4, with 1 in a long-term care facility, 1 in a healthcare setting, 1 in a congregate setting, and 1 in an educational setting

Lord Fairfax

• Clarke County - 6

• Frederick County - 73

• Page County - 6

• Shenandoah County - 27

• Warren County - 20

• Winchester - 21

Outbreaks:

7, with 2 in long-term care facilities, 3 in healthcare settings, and 2 in congregate settings

Thomas Jefferson

• Albemarle County - 53

• Charlottesville - 38

• Fluvanna County - 62

• Greene County - 5

• Louisa County - 29

• Nelson County - 5

Outbreaks:

2, with 1 in a long-term care facility and 1 in a correctional facility

Rappahannock Rapidan

• Culpeper County - 25

• Fauquier County - 29

• Madison County - 8

• Orange County - 17

• Rappahannock - 1

Outbreaks:

1 in a healthcare setting

Alexandria

• Alexandria City - 254

Alleghany

• Alleghany County - 4

• Botetourt County - 23

• Covington - 1

• Craig County - 2

• Roanoke County - 17

• Salem - 3

Arlington

• Arlington County - 420

Central Virginia

• Amherst County - 10

• Appomattox - 7

• Bedford County - 16

• Campbell County - 11

• Lynchburg - 34

Cheseapeake

• Chesapeake City - 140

Chesterfield

• Chesterfield County - 254

• Colonial Heights - 17

• Powhatan County - 5

Chickahominy

• Charles City County - 9

• Goochland County - 40

• Hanover County - 53

• New Kent - 16

Crater

• Dinwiddie - 7

• Emporia - 7

• Greensville - 16

• Hopewell - 14

• Petersburg - 19

• Prince George County - 27

• Surry - 3

• Sussex - 10

Cumberland Plateau

• Buchanan - 12

• Russell - 2

• Tazewell - 4

Eastern Shore

• Accomack County - 15

• Northampton - 4

Fairfax

• Fairfax County/City - 1,298

Hampton

• Hampton City - 75

Henrico

• Henrico County - 453

Lenowisco

• Lee County - 6

• Scott County - 3

• Wise County - 15

Loudoun

• Loudoun County - 367

Mount Rogers

• Bristol - 1

• Carroll County - 3

• Galax - 1

• Smyth County - 11

• Washington County - 27

• Wythe County - 7

New River

• Floyd County - 1

• Giles County - 4

• Montgomery County - 34

• Pulaski County - 4

• Radford City - 1

Norfolk

• Norfolk - 99

Peninsula

• James City County - 132

• Newport News - 95

• Poquoson - 6

• Williamsburg - 19

• York County - 35

Piedmont

• Amelia County - 9

• Buckingham County - 18

• Charlotte County - 4

• Cumberland County - 8

• Lunenburg - 3

• Nottoway - 5

• Prince Edward County - 13

Pittsylvania-Danville

• Danville - 22

• Pittsylvania County - 4

Portsmouth

• Portsmouth - 59

Prince William

• Manassas City - 53

• Manassas Park - 14

• Prince William County - 536

Rappahannock

• Caroline County - 9

• Fredericksburg - 15

• King Georrge County - 17

• Spotsylvania County - 60

• Stafford County - 108

Richmond

• Richmond - 177

Roanoke

• Roanoke City - 22

Southside

• Brunswick County - 9

• Halifax County - 7

• Mecklenburg County - 57

Three Rivers

• Gloucester County - 20

• King and Queen - 2

• King William County - 2

• Lancaster County - 1

• Matthews - 3

• Middlesex - 3

• Northumberland - 4

• Richmond County - 7

• Westmoreland - 8

Virginia Beach

• Virginia Beach - 256

West Piedmont

• Franklin County - 15

• Henry County - 8

Western Tidewater

• Franklin City - 7

• Isle of Wight County - 60

• Southampton - 6

• Suffolk - 59

The statewide situation in Virginia

On April 10, Governor Ralph Northam

, allow releases of inmates with less than year left in their sentences, and emphasized a need for volunteers.

On April 8, in Northam's daily coronavirus briefing,

that he was postponing statewide June primaries by two weeks, which moves them past the end date of the Stay at Home order, and recommending that the General Assembly postpone May's local elections until November, to be held at the same time as national elections.

On March 30, Gov. Northam

by signing

, effectively instructing all Virginians to stay home except for essential needs.

Virginia remains under a state of emergency until June 10, and Northam's order that closed many non-essential businesses,

, remains in place for that length of time as well.

That order is enforceable by law, so someone who hosts a gathering of more than 10 people can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. You can learn more about what police enforcement of Northam's executive orders looks like

.

All elective surgeries have also been postponed in Virginia hospitals through a public health order signed by Northam on March 25, designed to help preserve critical equipment like ventilators and personal protective gear.

The latest updates from Gov. Northam's April 13 briefing
Severe weather

Governor Northam started out Monday's briefing by addressing the severe weather that rolled through much of the state Sunday night into Monday morning, hitting southwest Virginia especially hard.

According to Northam, as of noon, there were more than 166,000 households that remained without power across the state due to the storms.

He advised that, with high winds continuing throughout the afternoon, any Virginians facing tornado warnings should take shelter immediately.

Northam noted that shelter from life-threatening severe weather takes precedence over social distancing.

The latest modeling

Northam said that he and his staff have been watching national models throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to make key decisions like closing schools for the rest of the school year, issuing a Stay at Home order, and closing non-essential businesses.

Those models included the University of Washington and CHIME models, which have been heavily relied upon.

The governor noted how those models change on a daily basis and said that Virginia leadership wanted to take into account Virginia-specific data, including data on how Virginians have responded to the coronavirus.

In response, researchers with the University of Virginia have developed a specific model for the commonwealth.

It will change each day based on behavior in Virginia, but the modeling has been designed as of April 13 and was demonstrated to many reporters just before the governor's 2 p.m. briefing.

The new UVA model shows that social distancing measures are working to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Northam said, and also show that Virginia hospitals have sufficient capacity to handle the expected surge in patients.

However, the model also shows that if the Stay at Home order and other restrictions are lifted too soon, cases across Virginia would surge and threaten the available capacity at medical facilities.

Specifically, the models suggest another wave of illness in mid-July or August if we don’t slowly ease back into normal life.

"And we can't afford that," Northam said.

He reiterated that modeling data shows that the key is for "us to keep doing what we're doing" and stopping any time soon would put Virginians in danger.

Continuing education

As K-12 schools remain closed throughout Virginia until the end of the school year, teachers and school division leaders have been working hard to adapt to the situation to keep providing educational opportunities for their students.

Gov. Northam said they're all doing their best to address inequities in education to ensure all students are able to keep learning, but to help them, the state is making additional education resources available.

That includes expanding "Virtual Virginia," which is a statewide online learning system, to allow every public school teacher in Virginia to host line classes through June 30.

For students who don't have internet access, Virtual Virginia content can be loaded onto devices and used offline as well.

In addition, Northam highlighted the new

program, through which four public media TV stations have partnered with the Virginia Dept. of Education to provide education over the air.

The department also convened a task force on continuity of education to develop guidance on how to ensure that there are no gaps between who gets an education as the pandemic wears on.

Long-term care facilities

The governor said, along with budget amendments he approved by the state constitutional deadline over the weekend, was an amendment to increase rates given to long-term care facilities by $20 per Medicaid recipient per day to assist the facilities' responses to COVID-19.

The governor also said that they are looking into using Virginia's reserve corps of volunteers to help provide more staffing at nursing homes and long-term care centers facing staffing shortages, as many across the country have in the face of coronavirus.

According to the task force established last Friday on long-term care facilities across Virginia, there have been at least 554 COVID-19 cases and 34 deaths identified across the state.

Data on the number of identified outbreaks, including if they were in these especially vulnerable facilities, is now available on the

.

Dr. Laurie Forlano, the deputy commissioner for public health at the Virginia Department of Health who's been heading the task force, said that, over the weekend, when a new outbreak was identified at one long-term care center, which she did not identify, the health district reported it immediately and worked hand-in-hand with the task force to respond to the situation. She said UVA offered testing kits and increased testing capacity to test residents at the center.

She said they will continue to work with their local partners across the state to sustain that kind of response in the future.

While Dr. Forlano did not identify the specific facility or health district, the Central Shenandoah Health District reported a new outbreak in a long-term care facility this past weekend. They have declined to identify the facility to WHSV or other media outlets.

Budget amendments

Governor Northam said, among the bills he signed by the state constitutional deadline Saturday night, was the state budget, to which he and his team proposed more than 100 amendments.

According to the governor, 49 of those amendments are language amendments that would give agencies greater flexibility as to how they conduct business during the pandemic. Another 83 of the amendments, he said, would unlock new discretionary spending for state agencies to continue their response.

Easter

The governor thanked everyone who found a way to celebrate Easter on Sunday while maintaining safe social distancing measures.

When can businesses reopen?

With data changing every day and state officials monitoring the latest models, including the new Virginia-specific model, Gov. Northam said there are no known answers at this point on when Virginians' lives will be able to return to the way that they knew them before.

He said we have to get people's lives back to normal, but we have to do it safely rather than as soon as possible.

On that topic, the governor was asked when arts and recreation businesses, as well as non-essential businesses that can not provide social distancing – like barber shops – can reopen.

As of right now, the original executive order that closed those businesses is in effect until April 23.

The governor said he and his staff are looking at extending that date because modeling projects Virginia not hitting its COVID-19 peak until late April or early May, so reopening businesses in the midst of the peak would worsen the situation substantially.

Northam said he will have an announcement in Wednesday's briefing on a new date to which that order will be extended.

Challenges

When asked about a statement by President Donald Trump on hospitals doing well amid the crisis, Gov. Northam said we're nowhere near where we want to be in supplies. While Virginia hospitals remain prepared in terms of bed capacity, when looking at modeling on surge data, he said they're facing challenges on staffing, PPE, and ventilator supplies, like many hospitals across the country, and that those challenges need to be addressed in terms of reality.

Relevant updates from Gov. Northam's April 10 briefing
Task force to respond to outbreaks at nursing homes

The governor announced in his briefing that he has appointed Dr. Laurie Forlano, currently the deputy commissioner for public health at the Virginia Department of Health, to head up a task force on responding to outbreaks at nursing homes and long-term care centers across Virginia.

The move was especially prompted by the

, where dozens of people have died in recent weeks.

Northam said Dr. Forlano will head up a coalition of public health officials that will work to make sure all facilities have access to testing, PPE, and the cleaning supplies they need to respond to the pandemic.

Dr. Forlano said as staff at all these facilities are dedicated to protecting the people that live there, she and the task force will ensure long-term care facilities are prioritized and get the funding they need, as well as needed information.

The task force will also track data specific to long-term care facilities in Virginia.

For instance, on Friday, Dr. Forlano said the state has identified 45 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the state, which makes up about 55% of all outbreaks identified in the state.

They've also identified 525 cases among those facilities.

Proposed amendment to make inmates eligible for release

The governor also announced on Friday that he is proposing a state budget amendment to give the Virginia Department of Corrections the authority to release inmates who have one year or less remaining in their sentences.

That's because most correctional facilities across Virginia face serious overcrowding

The authority granted to the department would allow them to release inmates who don't pose a threat to the safety of themselves or anyone else and also meet good behavior standards.

Under the amendment, the Dept. of Corrections would handle re-entry planning for about 2,000 inmates who meet the standard of having a year or less in their sentence.

The department, which has never before had the authority to release inmates, would need to plan for inmates to have somewhere to go upon their release and have necessary medications for at least three months.

The authority would last for the duration of Gov. Northam's executive orders, which are currently set until June 10.

However, for it to happen, the General Assembly will need to approve the amendment at their special session on April 22.

Unemployment changes

According to Governor Northam, more than 191,000 payments went out through the Virginia Employment Commission over the past week.

Next week, through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Virginia's unemployment insurance will offer payments boosted by about $600 a week to everyone who qualifies.

Through the CARES Act, people who previously did not qualify, like gig workers, can also now apply through the VEC and get benefits.

You can learn more about the coming unemployment insurance changes

.

What about hope?

Governor Northam was asked why, while President Donald Trump says "he's a glass half full kind of guy" and hopes to reopen the country soon, he instead provides somber updates.

Northam said while he wants everyone to get life back to normal as soon as possible, "we have to face reality."

The governor, who was a doctor before taking office, said his leadership style comes from his time in the medical field, so he's "a big believer in telling people the truth."

He said he looks at the data every day, looks at admissions to Virginia hospitals, looks at the number of patients now on ventilators, and bases public health decisions on the data and the recommendations of his staff.

"My job as your governor is to keep Virginians safe," Northam said.

He used an analogy of doctors making a treatment plan with a cancer patient, letting them know guidelines to follow and medicines to take. In a situation like that, we know that stopping the plan early just because it seems to be working is not the right course of action, because the cancer returns.

The governor said ending the Stay at Home order or social distancing guidelines because models appear to project peaks earlier would be largely the same, and people need to keep staying home and staying safe to get through this.

"This is a biologic war that we're fighting," the governor said, and Virginians all need to follow the guidelines set based on data.

The governor said we have to get through the health crisis before he sees a path to fully address the economic crisis.

General info on COVID-19
Who gets tested for the virus?

Currently, there are two main reasons someone would be tested for the coronavirus: having symptoms or exposure to an infected person. In our area, requirements for testing include both symptoms and either travel to an affected area or exposure to someone with a confirmed case.

The main symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. These look a lot like the flu and the common cold, so it takes a physician to determine if testing for the virus is necessary.

How does the coronavirus test work?

For a patient, the process of being tested for the virus is easy and can potentially be done almost anywhere. It typically involves taking a swab from deep in a patient’s nasal cavity to collect cells from the back of the nose.

The sample is then sent to a lab, where it will be tested to determine if the patient’s cells are infected with the virus. The same process is used to collect a sample from a patient who is tested for flu.

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.

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. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

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.

For the latest factual information on COVID-19, you're encouraged to check both the

and the

.