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Virginia COVID-19 cases jump by 1,067 on Thursday

Graphic courtesy: Virginia Department of Health
Graphic courtesy: Virginia Department of Health(WHSV)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 9:21 AM EDT
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As of Thursday, May 14, Virginia has had 27,813 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That's a rise of 1,067 cases since Wednesday, alongside 5,467 new tests (down from high testing numbers earlier this week), which comes out to 19.5% of the newest tests coming back positive – a higher proportion than the current state average, meaning a day of accelerating cases.

However, just because the day's case numbers may be higher, all decisions made by the governor and state officials about reopening are based on overall trends, which aren't broken by a rise of statistics on one day, and the recent trends are still of declining case rates.

Previously, there were 946 cases reported from Tuesday to Wednesday, 730 from Monday to Tuesday, and 989 from Sunday to Monday, but each of those 900 numbers had come with higher testing than Thursday's.

So far in May, on an overall "trend" level, daily increases in COVID-19 cases confirmed in Virginia had dropped from highs over 1,000 around the start of the month.

That drop has happened even with a significant ramp-up in testing reflected on most days, so the moving 7-day average, which tracks the number of cases confirmed as a ratio of the amount of testing, has still fallen, showing what appears to be the top of "the curve" behind us.

Because of that, Governor Ralph Northam and his administration say the data metrics have been met to start the 'Forward Virginia' plan for gradual reopening this Friday, officially at 12:01 a.m.

Virginia had been ranked among states with the lowest per capita testing throughout the pandemic, but state health officials say their goal isn't to compete with cumulative testing numbers but to focus on getting tests to the people and areas in most need of them.

The May 15 start date for Phase 1 of reopening will allow a number of non-essential business to open back up, with continuing restrictions to prevent a potential new surge of cases. Northam

.

, he went into greater detail about the data metrics his team is using to make the calls on when to enter which phases, and discussed the current testing situation in Virginia.

Virginia has been meeting the benchmark of steady PPE supplies and open hospital capacity for around two weeks now, with 4,546 hospital beds available and no Virginia hospitals reporting any supply problems.

The commonwealth increased from around 2,000 tests a day to between 3,000 and 5,000 last week, and now seems to be more steadily hitting around 7,000 to 8,000. The governor has said the goal for

is around 10,000 tests a day, but the increased testing has been enough to meet the state's benchmarks on that as well.

As testing increases, the rate of tested Virginians who received positive results is slowly but surely dropping, and that percentage is being considered a major factor in Virginia plans, meeting yet another benchmark for reopening.

Statewide case totals and testing numbers as of May 13

By May 14, the Virginia Department of Health had received reports of 26,469 confirmed and 1,344 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 185,551 total tests administered in Virginia, which were between 165,486 unique people. (

that around 10% of people get tested more than once, so the state now reports both total tests and total people tested).

From Sunday to Monday, nearly 10,000 new tests were reported to the health department, which marked a massive increase in testing. Prior to that, there had been an increase of 7,732 tests from Friday to Saturday and 7,005 tests from Saturday to Sunday.

From Monday to Tuesday, tests fell back to 3,481 in the day. Then, from Tuesday to Wednesday, 8,845 new tests were reported. Now, from Wednesday to Thursday, 5,467 new tests were reported to the department, falling short of the benchmarks the state administration has called for.

Overall, considering testing numbers and positive results, about 14.99% of Virginians who have been tested have received positive results. The recent increase in testing brought that percentage point down from over 17%, where it stood a week and a half ago, but it bounced slightly back up Thursday.

That number is a key to reopening on schedule, Gov. Northam

.

At this point, 3,592 Virginians have been hospitalized due to the disease caused by the virus, and at least 955 have died of causes related to the disease.

The hospitalization and death numbers are the 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, when then report it to the state health department.

The

shows a lot of detail by locality, including hospitalizations and deaths for each city or county, and are broken down by zip code elsewhere on the health department website.

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,

.

Where are our local cases?

According to the Virginia Department of Health's May 14 breakdown, 185,551 tests have been run for the virus in Virginia, with 27,813 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, and demographic breakdowns, as well as breakdowns by health district.

Here's a breakdown of cases for our region as of 9 a.m. on May 14. You can find the breakdown for the entire state in the chart at the bottom of this article.

Central Shenandoah

• Augusta County - 70

• Buena Vista - 8

• Harrisonburg - 615

• Highland County - 2

• Lexington - 5

• Rockbridge County - 11

• Rockingham County - 381

• Staunton - 23

• Waynesboro - 21

Outbreaks:

11, with 2 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

Lord Fairfax

• Clarke County - 16

• Frederick County - 191

• Page County - 143

• Shenandoah County - 278

• Warren County - 90

• Winchester - 75

Outbreaks:

15, with 7 in long-term care facilities, 3 in healthcare settings, and 5 in congregate settings

Thomas Jefferson

• Albemarle County - 130

• Charlottesville - 68

• Fluvanna County - 79

• Greene County - 16

• Louisa County - 59

• Nelson County - 12

Outbreaks:

5, with 3 in long-term care facilities, 1 in a correctional facility, and 1 in a congregate setting

Rappahannock Rapidan

• Culpeper County - 329

• Fauquier County - 200

• Madison County - 23

• Orange County - 50

• Rappahannock - 10

Outbreaks:

3, with 1 in a healthcare setting and 2 in congregate settings

Local outbreaks

As numbers have soared in parts of the Shenandoah Valley, much of the increase has been attributable to outbreaks. By May 14, the Central Shenandoah Health District had identified 11 outbreaks and the Lord Fairfax Health District had 15.

In the Central Shenandoah Health District, the largest confirmed outbreak has been in Harrisonburg, which has the most confirmed cases in our region.

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

By Tuesday, May 5, the facility had

due to coronavirus. By this week, though,

.

A separate outbreak in Harrisonburg,

, resulted in at least 25 positive cases, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Another involves

as of April 30. The health district has not publicly identified LCS as an outbreak site, but the number of cases they confirmed to employees meets the VDH definition of a congregate setting outbreak. Since that date, the company ceased providing updates on their employee hotline so that media outlets would not have access to the information.

Moving north to the Lord Fairfax Health District, in Page County, which went from 30 cases on April 23 to 100 by April 30, a large part was due to an outbreak at

, where 59 residents and 23 staff members tested positive for the virus.

As of May 13,

" target="_blank">Skyview Springs confirmed to WHSV

that 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 on May 11 that the Skyview Springs outbreak is 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 are at businesses and three are at long-term care facilities.

Of the long-term care outbreaks, one is at a nursing home and two are at assisted living facilities.

There's no sure way to confirm if it's among the outbreaks under investigation now, but 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.

No other facilities have publicly shared information about COVID-19 outbreaks in Shenandoah County, but Blue Ridge Hospice, while announcing a "Heroes Parade" for long-term care facilities on May 13, said that several facilities in Woodstock specifically have outbreaks of COVID-19.

Dr. Greene said the health district is working to increase the number of tests available to the overall community, as well as in the facilities with known outbreaks, with help from Gov. Northam's nursing home task force and testing task force.

By the end of this week, he hopes to have community testing events scheduled and announced. He also said the health district will be working with teams deployed to the Shenandoah Valley in the coming days to assist with testing at poultry plants.

In the past two weeks, since April 27, cases in Page County have climbed from 87 to 129 and in Shenandoah County, from 78 to 250.

Health department officials have not specified the majority of the locations of our outbreaks, given that Virginia state code requires permission to be granted by a facility for their information to be released to the media. That;s because Virginia code treats facilities the same as "persons," meaning their anonymity has to be protected.

Many of the local outbreaks 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.

Hospitalizations

Of the state's 3,592 total hospitalizations, at least 78 have been in the Central Shenandoah Health District. Of those, 3 have been in Augusta County, 41 in Harrisonburg, 30 in Rockingham County, 3 in Staunton, and 1 in Waynesboro.

In the Lord Fairfax Health District, there have been at least 74 hospitalizations. Twenty-four of those have been in Shenandoah County and 19 in Page County.

Deaths

As far as deaths, there have been 9 reported in Shenandoah County, 16 in Page County, one in Augusta County, 21 in Harrisonburg, and two in Rockingham County.

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

WHSV confirmed with Cargill, in Rockingham County,

of COVID-19. The company did not provide further details on if any outbreaks are investigation, though the situation at poultry facilities across Virginia has been a

.

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 the delay 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 – the same process is how flu deaths are reported.

West Virginia updates

In the part of West Virginia we cover, there have been 6 confirmed cases in Grant County, 23 confirmed cases in Hardy County, and 5 confirmed cases in Pendleton County.

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 May 14, at least 3,678 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 1,533.

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 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

As Virginia prepares to enter

on May 15, the commonwealth remains under a series of public health orders and executive orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

, which closed many non-essential businesses across Virginia and established Virginia's 10-person gathering limit, is set to run until May 14, but will be amended, because Gov. Northam says the 10-person limit will continue through Phase 1.

, the 'Stay at Home' order signed by Northam on March 30, is currently set to run through at least June 10, as it has been since its signing. It instructs all Virginians to stay home except for essential needs. However, Gov. Northam has said that will be adjusted to a 'Safer at Home' order as Phase 1 begins on May 15.

Virginia remains under a state of emergency until June 10.

The Virginia Supreme Court has declared a judicial emergency, which suspends all non-essential, non-emergency court hearings, and that

.

All DMV offices in Virginia remain closed until May 18, at which point

. During the closure, Virginia State Police have not been enforcing inspections and extensions have been granted to people with expiring credentials for themselves or their vehicles.

Elective procedures and related offices, like dentists, were able to resume on May 1 after Gov. Northam

.

Of the orders in place, Executive Order 53 is enforceable by law, so someone who hosts a gathering of more than 10 people can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. And that will continue to be the case in Phase 1. You can learn more about what police enforcement of Northam's executive orders looks like

.

Virginia's

and the

have each been postponed by two weeks.

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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