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Coronavirus cases in Virginia rise to 12,970 on Sunday

Map of coronavirus cases in Virginia as of April 26, 2020. | Credit: WHSV
Map of coronavirus cases in Virginia as of April 26, 2020. | Credit: WHSV(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 26, 2020 at 10:18 AM EDT
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As of Sunday, April 26, the Virginia Department of Health has received 12,970 confirmed tests and clinical diagnoses for COVID-19 across the commonwealth.

New positive results submitted to the department have accelerated rapidly throughout April, with Virginia first 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; 6,000 by Tuesday, April 14; 7,000 by Friday, April 17; 8,000 by Saturday, April 18; 9,000 by Tuesday, April 22; 10,000 by Wednesday, April 23; and 11,000 by Friday, April 24.

This past Monday, there had been

, but that streak of lower daily totals was broken by

.

Wednesday's update was another jump of 636 cases. Thursday's update saw an increase of more than 730 cases. Friday saw 596 new cases. Then, Saturday brought 772 new cases, and Sunday brought 604.

Virginia's projected peak, according to UVA data modeling, should be in the coming days.

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. In long-term care facilities in Virginia where the full populations have been tested, large numbers of residents tested positive without displaying symptoms.

Case totals as of April 26

By April 26, the Virginia Department of Health had received reports of 12,488 confirmed and 482 probable cases of COVID-19 across the commonwealth.

Since Tuesday's update to the VDH system, the department now clarifies the difference in cases confirmed by lab tests and "probable" cases, which are cases that were diagnosed by a doctor based on symptoms and exposure without a test.

Those positive test results are out of 76,118 people that have been tested in Virginia.

At this point, 2,014 Virginians have been hospitalized due to the disease caused by the virus, and 448 have died of causes related to the disease, which marks an increase of 38 recorded deaths in a day.

In

, Dr. Norm Oliver, the state health commissioner, said the data on deaths displayed by the VDH is almost always delayed by a day or several from when the deaths actually occurred.

In the Central Shenandoah Health District, nine deaths have been reported in Harrisonburg, one in Augusta County, and one in Rockingham County.

Since April 21, the

has been updated to show a lot more detail by locality, including hospitalizations and deaths for each city or county.

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. For current hospitalization stats,

.

Local cases

In our area, as of April 26, there were at least 36 confirmed cases in Augusta County, 371 cases in Harrisonburg, 184 cases in Rockingham County, 84 cases in Page County, 74 cases in Shenandoah County, 10 cases in Staunton, 10 cases in Waynesboro, 1 case in Highland County, 93 cases in Frederick County, 33 cases in Winchester, and 5 cases in Rockbridge County, along with 3 in Lexington.

A significant portion, though not the majority, of the Harrisonburg number, which has the most confirmed cases in our region, comes from

, where the Virginia Department of Health and UVA Health collaborated to test every resident and staff member, finding 81 residents and 12 staff members positive by last weekend.

By Wednesday, April 22, the facility had

due to coronavirus.

It's one of several outbreaks across our area, but the one with the most severe effects.

The Central Shenandoah Health District has 8 identified outbreaks and the Lord Fairfax Health District has 11.

Health department officials have not specified the majority of the locations of those outbreaks, given that Virginia state code requires permission to be granted by a facility for their information to be released to the media.

The Lord Fairfax Health District is

, as of Wednesday afternoon, but at this point, the district has only confirmed one case there, though WHSV

with confirmed cases.

Of the state's total hospitalizations, at least 41 have been in the Central Shenandoah Health District. Of those, 2 are in Augusta County, 24 in Harrisonburg, 14 in Rockingham County, and 1 in Waynesboro.

In the Lord Fairfax Health District, there have been at least 35 hospitalizations. Ten of those have been in Shenandoah County and nine in Page County.

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

, three cases

, and one case in Grant County.

What about testing on a local level?

As of April 26, the Lord Fairfax Health District had reported 2,863 tests, and the Central Shenandoah Health District had reported 2,316 tests.

For context, on a state level, of the COVID-19 tests administered, a little more than 15% of people tested have received positive results. Of the tests administered in the Central Shenandoah Health District, more than 27% of people tested have received positive results.

According to Dr. Greene, with the Lord Fairfax Health District, those testing numbers reported by the Virginia Department of Health may not include all the tests that have actually been conducted. He said tests performed by private labs aren't always reported to the state if they came back negative, so advised that those numbers generally don't show the full picture.

Dr. Forlano, the state's deputy health commissioner, said in a Wednesday briefing that the state data is meant to give at look at overall trends more than it's meant to show every single case.

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 26, at least 1,815 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 1,436.

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.

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 Friday, April 24, Gov. Ralph Northam

, based on testing, PPE, and hospital capacity requirements. The governor also announced that he was delaying May's local elections by two weeks.

, but Tuesday saw an increase of more than 600 cases that quickly broke that trend.

On Thursday, April 23, Gov. Ralph Northam

, bringing the expiration dates of those orders more in line with other statewide orders.

Last Friday, Northam

to allow more medical providers to practice in Virginia during the state of emergency, and talked about the federal guidelines for reopening the state.

Last Wednesday, he

, which closed many non-essential businesses and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. That order is now set to run through at least May 8.

The previous Friday, he

, proposed the release of inmates with less than year left in their sentences, and emphasized a need for volunteers.

On April 8, he

to November by the General Assembly.

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 until at least May 9.

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

.

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

.