Holsworth: May 18, 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. Today’s Numbers

Monday reports are always dependent on weekend reporting from hospitals and health districts and are not always as consistent as the information received as the week proceeds.

The daily report from the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association (VHHA) showed that the number of patients in hospitals ticked down from 1524 to 1502. Over the last 7 days, this indicator has remained in a very tight range between 1502 and 1533.

The daily case report from the Virginia Department of Health showed that there were 752 new confirmed cases, a 2.5% day over day increase, raising the statewide total to 31,140. The three day moving average declined from 858 to 823.

Perhaps the most hopeful sign that we’ve seen going into the week is that the growth rate in the number of deaths reported has slowed considerably over the past few days. Over the last two days, the number of reported deaths increased from 1002 to 1014, a number far lower than the 30 person daily average than we had been seeing over the previous two weeks. Let’s hope that this is not just a reporting lapse

2. Social Distancing 2.0

It seems to me that social distancing has had three major benefits.

– It clearly reduced the level of broad community spread among individuals, neighborhoods and communities that are in circumstances where it is easily practiced.

– It bought time for us to understand at least a little more about both the science and the actual experience of COVID-19 transmission. We know a lot more today about where it is easy to transmit the virus (in confined indoor quarters for an extended period of time) and where we may not have to worry that much. (I don’t know of anyone in my neighborhood who has caught the virus opening an Amazon package.)

– While we were social distancing, institutions (workplaces, retailers, schools, colleges, professional sports organizations, etc.) could think through the conditions under which they might more safely operate. What kind of testing, tracing and isolating will be necessary? Will masks be required to worn? How will close contact be eliminated?

Almost every state is now entering a version of Social Distancing 2.0. More of us (who are fortunate enough to have maintained a job) will be heading back to work; more people will be frequenting retail stores, hair and nail salons and gyms; and child care centers; others will head to the beach for a vacation they really need; and schools and colleges are likely to reopen, even if with a vastly different look.

If we’re lucky, summer will have a bigger impact on the virus that most scientists appear to expect. Under any condition, however, the level of interaction in Social Distancing 2.0 will be far greater than in the original. More people, more movement, more choices, and maybe more disease among people who had not been previously susceptible.

In Social Distancing 1.0, the rule for those who were in circumstances in which it could be practiced was clear: Stay Home. In Social Distancing 2.0, the rules won’t be so clear. We’ll all be making daily assessments about the risks we’re willing to take and how much we’re willing to trust our health and that of our families to other people and other organizations.

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