Holsworth: May 14, 2020, Virginia Covid-19 Update

Editor’s note: Bearing Drift is grateful to Dr. Bob Holsworth for permission to share his daily Virginia coronavirus updates. For more, follow him on Facebook.




1. Trends Continue

Today’s numbers basically continue the trend we’ve seen all week and, in reality, for far longer.

-Hospitalizations ticked up to 1533 and there were 131 net admissions over discharges, maintaining the 100+ average that has been evident for three weeks. No surge, no downward slope.

-Cases continue to rise. In fact, today’s increase of 1067 cases was the largest single day rise since the pandemic began. The three day moving average also ticked up from 903 to 914 cases per day.

– There were 5467 tests reported yesterday with a 20% test positivity rate. The 20% rate is higher than we’ve recently seen, but it has been almost impossible to compare the number of tests and the test positivity rate over time because decisions about who to test and what counts as a test has changed over time.

-Once again, the case rise in NOVA exceeded the state average, 4.5% compared to 3.8% statewide. RVA was also slightly over the state average at 4%. And, as we have seen for weeks, Hampton Roads had the lowest increase of major metros, 2.4%.

2. The Governor

– Public Opinion:

The two polls that we have seen, one from VCU a few weeks ago and this week from the Post, indicate that the general public has been very satisfied with the Governor’s response to date.

This is relatively consistent with national trends where the “reopen slowly” governors have been, at least to this point in time, receiving high marks.

Two major concerns that have been raised here- the speed of the response in addressing the dire situation in long-term care facilities and the continuing challenges with testing- do not appear to have influenced the public’s overall perception that Governor Northam is taking his responsibilities seriously and acting on behalf of Virginians.

The Governor’s professional background as a physician probably enhances the perception of his trustworthiness in a public health crisis.

– Emerging Challenges:

As Virginia and all states move (at varying paces) into the phase of living with the virus and restoring a greater level of economic activity, the challenges for the Governor and the administration will become more extensive and more complex.

-Yesterday, members of the Legislative Black Caucus took issue with the Governor’s decision to initiate a Phase One reopening on Friday. They’re concerned with the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on minority communities where Latinos have contracted the disease at 4 times their percentage in the population and where African Americans have experienced disproportionate percentage of deaths.

They want to know what specific steps will be taken to protect members of minority communities who are a significant proportion of the front-line workers and who will not be telecommuting as economic activity begins to revive.

-At the same time, members of the business community in Virginia Beach, the jurisdiction in the state most dependent on tourism, want to see the Governor move more quickly in enabling their establishments to reopen.

They believe that beaches are relatively safe havens from COVID-19. They have developed innovative plans to enforce social distancing by hiring “ambassadors” at the oceanfront and creating parking lot restaurants. And they can’t understand why their gatherings should be limited to 10 while church services can operate at 50% capacity.

– These are just the beginning of the questions that are going to emerge in the next 30-60 days if the virus doesn’t take a seasonal vacation itself.

-In RVA, for example, the restaurant community has been one of the region’s major selling points to families and companies considering relocating to he region. Will any steps be taken to keep it afloat as it copes with the devastating implications of the virus?

-Will K-12 schools open back up? everywhere? region by region?

-What about colleges and universities? The students want to come back and about 70% institutions nationally are planning for an on-site return. But the California State system isn’t. Nor Harvard. Nor Stanford.

-Live football or basketball in Virginia? Or just sports betting of wherever it might be played?

Everyone reading this could list 10 more questions of their own.

At almost every turn, the virus has been full of surprises- these are unlikely to go away as it plays out- medically, economically and politically.

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