Holsworth: May 15, 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. Hospitalizations Tick Down

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association’s (VHHA) daily report showed that the total number of hospitalizations ticked down from 1533 to 1511. There were 127 discharged patients yesterday and 105 estimated new admissions.

In the last seven days, the number of patients in hospitals declined from 1625, which was the highest number during the entire pandemic. But given that hospitalizations have ranged between 1413 and 1625 this month, we will look at next week’s data before we assert that the downward trend has arrived.

2. Case Rise Steady, Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Addresses Criticism of Test Reporting

There were 859 new cases yesterday. The three day moving average ticked upward from 914 cases to 957. It was, however, the first day in weeks that the percentage rise in NOVA (2.7%) was not the largest in the three major metros.

Hampton Roads had a 2.4% increase, but RVA increased by 4%, driven by a 8.8% day over day increase in the City of Richmond. Outside of the large metros, cases continued to climb on the Eastern Shore where about 2% of the residents have confirmed cases.

In today’s report, VDH addressed mounting criticism of its inclusion of antibody tests in its daily report of tests given, The agency now has a separate category for the number of diagnostic tests given that does not incorporate antibody testing.

VDH reports that the 7 day moving average for the positivity rate of these tests is 15%and this represents a downward trend. This was a useful response to the criticisms and gets us closer to testing percentages that may be genuine comparisons of apples to apples. The length of time it has taken to get to this point was unexpected.

3. City of Richmond Given an 11th Hour Exemption

Mayor Levar Stoney’s request to have Richmond exempted from the Governor’s Phase One reopening order was granted yesterday.

The timing of the order certainly wasn’t ideal, especially for businesses such as restaurants with large patios that had begun replenishing inventory and hiring back employees. There’s plenty of grumbling about this.

And the county administrators in Chesterfield and Henrico made it perfectly clear that they disagreed with the Mayor and are more than happy to begin Phase One, even if the City is not.

Still, the Mayor has an argument and it should be acknowledged that it is one he’s made from the get go. Stoney has consistently said that there was a lack of accessible testing in the city, especially in the most vulnerable black and brown communities.

In Richmond, more than 85% of the cases are concentrated in these communities. And the state’s latest reporting data showed that test positivity in these populations was hovering around 25%, a percentage that most experts suggest implies a large number of unidentified cases. In fact, just this morning VDH’s reporting showed a day-to-day increase of over 8% in Richmond city cases.

All of us would like to see the patios open on Richmond’s wonderful restaurants. But Stoney’s insistence that we really know what’s happening with Richmond’s numbers makes sense to me.

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