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COVID-19 cases rise by 470 as Virginia rate keeps falling

Graphic courtesy: Virginia Department of Health
Graphic courtesy: Virginia Department of Health(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 9:17 AM EDT
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As of Thursday, June 11, Virginia has had 52,647 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That's a rise of 470 cases since Wednesday, out of 10,383 newly reported tests, which comes out to 4.5% of the newest tests coming back positive – a significantly lower proportion than the current total state average.

The numbers on the VDH dashboard this week also began reflecting thousands of additional tests in the Richmond area that had previously been backlogged. According to the department, a Richmond-area laboratory had previously been providing test results via fax, which then had to be entered manually by VDH staff, resulting in a backlog of around 13,000 tests.

But now, the lab is able to enter test results electronically. Health department staff had prioritized entering positive test results into the system, so most of the remaining 13,000 tests that will be entered into the system in the next few days will be negative tests. According to the VDH spokesperson, the change for that Richmond-area lab will alleviate the department's backlog by about half.

Virginia is several days into

of Governor Ralph Northam's

for reopening, allowing most of Virginia – excluding Northern Virginia and Richmond, which will join this Friday – to have indoor dining open again, gyms and fitness centers open to indoor classes with limited capacity, zoos and museums open again, and more outlined in

.

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

And 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.

Over the past week, there were 951 newly reported cases (at 7.6% positivity) from Wednesday to Thursday, 676 (at 5.7% positivity) from Thursday to Friday, 865 (at 10.1% positivity) from Friday to Saturday, 1,284 (at 12.9% positivity) from Saturday to Sunday, 570 (at 14.7% positivity) from Sunday to Monday, 487 (at 6.6% positivity) from Monday to Tuesday, and 439 from (at 5.5% positivity) from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Most tests are PCR tests that take several days to process, and the majority of people still only get tested when symptomatic and 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.

Virginia has been meeting the governor's benchmark of steady PPE supplies and open hospital capacity for more than a month now, with 3,882 hospital beds available and no Virginia hospitals reporting any supply problems – although

are reporting PPE supply problems. The governor has said in recent press conferences that those facilities need to reach out to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to request more supplies from the state's stockpile.

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

.

The

that went into effect across Virginia on May 29 will remain in effect for Phase 2 and indefinitely into the future.

Statewide case totals and testing numbers as of June 11

By June 11, the Virginia Department of Health had received reports of 50,275 confirmed and 2,372 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 453,869 total tests administered in Virginia, which included 405,025 PCR tests and 48,884 antibody tests (The Dept. of Health announced in May that

.)

This week, from Sunday to Monday, 3,736 new PCR tests and 130 new antibody tests were reported; from Monday to Tuesday, 7,260 new PCR tests and 133 new antibody tests were reported; from Tuesday to Wednesday, 7,492 new PCR tests and 419 new antibody tests were reported; and from Wednesday to Thursday, 9,053 new PCR tests and 1,370 new 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 11.6% 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, it's come down over time. However, some localities have higher percentages, as outlined in our "local cases" section below.

At this point, 5,360 Virginians have been hospitalized due to the disease caused by the virus, and at least 1,520 have died of causes related to the disease.

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

shows a lot of detail by locality, including hospitalizations and deaths for each city or county, and are

, if you want to track cases on a neighborhood level.

Where are our local cases?

Overall, according to the Virginia Department of Health's June 11 breakdown, 453,869 tests have been run for the virus in Virginia, with 52,647 positive results.

The department's breakdown and location map, available to the public

, 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 9 a.m. on June 11. 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

: 1,741 total cases

• Augusta County - 139

• Buena Vista - 12 (-1 from Wednesday)

• Harrisonburg - 846 (+4 from Wednesday)

• Highland County - 3

• Lexington - 8

• Rockbridge County - 19

• Rockingham County - 606 (+4 from Wednesday)

• Staunton - 55 (-3 from Wednesday)

• Waynesboro - 53 (+2 from Tuesday)

Outbreaks:

16, with 7 in long-term care facilities, 1 in a healthcare setting, 6 in congregate settings, 1 in a correctional facility, and 1 in an educational setting | 543 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests:

12,377

Local percent positive:

14.1%

Lord Fairfax

: 1,675 total cases

• Clarke County - 36 (+1 from Wednesday)

• Frederick County - 416 (+1 from Wednesday)

• Page County - 249 (+2 from Wednesday)

• Shenandoah County - 499 (+7 from Wednesday)

• Warren County - 225

• Winchester - 250 (+2 from Wednesday)

Outbreaks:

19, with 8 in long-term care facilities, 4 in healthcare settings, 6 in congregate settings, and 1 in a correctional facility | 558 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests:

14,927

Local percent positive:

11.2%

Thomas Jefferson

: 666 total cases

• Albemarle County - 269 (+6 from Wednesday)

• Charlottesville - 144 (+2 from Wednesday)

• Fluvanna County - 98

• Greene County - 45 (+1 from Wednesday)

• Louisa County - 95 (+1 from Wednesday)

• Nelson County - 18 (+1 from Wednesday)

Outbreaks:

13, with 4 in long-term care facilities, 2 in correctional facilities, 6 in congregate settings, and 1 in an educational setting | 176 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests:

13,695

Local percent positive:

4.9%

Rappahannock Rapidan

: 1,324 total cases

• Culpeper County - 774 (+1 from Wednesday)

• Fauquier County - 374 (+4 from Wednesday)

• Madison County - 41

• Orange County - 119

• Rappahannock County - 16

Outbreaks:

7, with 2 in long-term care facilities, 1 in a healthcare setting, and 4 in congregate settings | 114 cases associated with outbreaks

Total tests:

9,814

Local percent positive:

13.5%

Local outbreaks

As numbers have climbed in parts of the Shenandoah Valley, much of the increase has been attributable to outbreaks within particular facilities. By June 11, the Central Shenandoah Health District had identified 16 outbreaks and the Lord Fairfax Health District had 19.

Health department officials have not specified the majority of the locations of our outbreaks, because the Virginia Department of Health has interpreted Virginia code as treating facilities the same as "persons," meaning their anonymity has to be protected. So information about outbreaks is only released to the public if a facility grants permission for that to be released, and that has not been often.

Of the outbreaks in our area, several have been confirmed at long-term care centers, including at

;

" target="_blank">Skyview Springs, where there have been 16 confirmed deaths

;

, where Augusta Health has confirmed a "COVID situation" but no exact numbers have been provided;

, with at least 5 cases among residents and staff as of June 3; and three outbreaks in Shenandoah County, including one at an unnamed nursing home and two at unnamed assisted living facilities.

The largest of those outbreaks was the one at

, where 81 residents and 12 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in April. By Tuesday, May 5, the facility

due to coronavirus. By a little later in May,

.

In Page County, the outbreak at

resulted in 59 residents and 23 staff members testing positive for the virus. By May 13,

" target="_blank">16 people there had died of COVID-19-related causes

. The facility has 115 residents total.

Dr. Colin Greene, with the Lord Fairfax Health District, told WHSV in May that the Skyview Springs outbreak was the only major outbreak in the Page County area.

However, he said they were monitoring five active outbreaks in Shenandoah County. Due to Virginia code preventing the identification of facilities with outbreaks, he could not identify the exact locations, but said two were at businesses, two at assisted living facilities, and one at a nursing home.

Outbreaks have also been confirmed at

,

, with at least 25 positive cases, and

, which had at least six cases by the end of April but then stopped providing updates on their employee hotline so that media outlets would not have access to the information, which was not publicly provided.

On May 26,

for COVID-19, as the outbreak identified inside a correctional facility in the Lord Fairfax Health District. A day later, that number was up to 18 positive tests.

New Market Poultry Products, which has more than 100 employees working on a daily basis,

– though an exact number was not provided and no update has come since then.

None of the other Shenandoah Valley poultry plants have released any information about COVID-19 cases to the public, but

and Cargill in Dayton has confirmed the death of one employee due to COVID-19 – though never any information on the number of cases at the facility.

Poultry plants and other meat processing facilities have been hotspots for the virus across the country and a focus of Gov. Northam's in Virginia. State health commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver has also referenced the situation at poultry plants in Harrisonburg leading to a disproportionate number of cases among the Latino community in the Shenandoah Valley, though, again the facilities themselves have released no information publicly.

The only exact number for poultry workers that has been provided is that

had tested positive.

Many of the local outbreaks that do not have confirmed locations have been identified in congregate settings, which could include workplaces, apartment complexes, churches, gyms, or any setting with a group of people in one place. While WHSV has received reports from viewers about specific stores, for instance, if the business does not provide consent for their information to be shared, the health department cannot confirm any information about cases there.

Hospitalizations

Of the state's 5,360 total hospitalizations, at least 138 have been in the Central Shenandoah Health District. Of those, 5 have been in Augusta County, 1 in Buena Vista, 64 in Harrisonburg, 60 in Rockingham County, 6 in Staunton, and 2 in Waynesboro.

In the Lord Fairfax Health District, there have been at least 137 hospitalizations. Fifty-one of those have been in Shenandoah County and 27 in Page County.

Deaths

As far as deaths, there have been 25 reported in Shenandoah County, 24 in Page County, two in Augusta County, 23 in Harrisonburg, and seven in Rockingham County.

Deaths, like all health department data, are reported by a person's listed residence.

Dr. Norm Oliver, the state's health commissioner, has said that it often takes several days before local health districts are able to enter death information into the state database. Dr. Laura Kornegay, director of the Central Shenandoah Health District, told WHSV that deaths first have to be reported to them by medical facilities, which is a major cause for delays that have often been seen on the numbers reported for our area.

Dr. Kornegay also explained that if someone has tested positive for COVID-19, that's what goes on their death certificate. Those death certificates have a space to list secondary causes of death, and that's where ongoing health issues like heart disease and cancer are listed. Some people have accused medical facilities of artificially inflating death tolls by doing that, but it's the same process by which flu deaths are reported every year.

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. 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

indicates that, as of June 11, at least 6,895 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 1,069.

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

we cover, there have been 14 cases in Grant County, 40 cases in Hardy County, and 13 cases, along with one death, in Pendleton County.

Timing of VDH data

The

is updating with the latest statewide numbers somewhere between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day. In recent days, that has steadily creeped closer to 10 a.m.

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

Most of Virginia officially entered

on June 5. Richmond and Northern Virginia remain in

until the data trends in those areas better match the rest of the commonwealth, which has seen declining percent positivity and increasing test capacity.

will remain in effect throughout Phase 2, making it mandatory for almost all Virginians to wear face coverings when entering businesses. You can learn how that will be enforced

.

Under Phase 2,

has been modified extensively, with more and more non-essential businesses allowed to reopen and Virginia's 10-person gathering limit increased to a 50-person gathering limit.

That limit, like the original 10-person limit, is enforceable for indoor gatherings.

, 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

on Monday, May 18. But a few weeks later, on June 8, the Supreme Court of Virginia

through at least June 28.

DMV offices in Virginia began gradually reopening on Monday, May 18, and

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.

Virginia's

have been postponed by two weeks. Virginia officials are encouraging all voters to request absentee ballots.

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

and the

.

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