Holsworth: May 22, 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.


May 22, COVID-19 Update

A Stubborn Virus; Saving RVA’s Restaurants: Calling Jack Berry?

1. Today’s Numbers: Stubborness

-The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association’s (VHHA) showed a decrease in the number of COVID patients hospitalized from 1491 to 1459. At the same time, the number of patients in ICUs increased from 351 to 366 as did the number of patients on ventilators from 191 to 207.

The reported trend this week has had a bit of a new twist inasmuch as we have seen more discharges than in any previous week – at the same time, the estimated number of daily new admissions has gone up as well. Thankfully, we’ve had more discharges than admissions and the overall count of patients in hospitals has modestly decreased.

– The Virginia Department of Health reported 813 new cases today and the 3 day moving average declined from 999 to 935. There have been some reports that case numbers are declining. It’s not so clear. From May 9-15, we averaged 904 cases per day. And, for the last 7 days, we averaged 896 cases.

After a couple of days in which the death toll had decreased, we’ve had 95 COVID-19 deaths in the last three days to bring the statewide total to 1136.

Overall, COVID-19 has been pretty stubborn in Virginia. To be sure, it has impacted us very unevenly. Hampton Roads is far better off than NOVA and a good portion of western Virginia has so far escaped its brunt. But its crept out of the metros to the Valley, the Eastern Shore, Culpeper-Fauquier, and to rural jurisdictions where jails and prisons are located.

In recent days, I’ve heard more experts express optimism that a season of heat and humidity could promote viral hibernation. I hope they’re right – we could use the respite.

2. Saving RVA’s Restaurants: Calling Jack Berry?

Richmond’s restaurants have been an integral part of the region’s revival over the last decade. The nation’s food critics are in love with the city. Our visitors are always impressed. And businesses find them to be a great recruiting tool for luring talent to the region. I can’t believe how much the restaurant scene has changed since I moved here in the late 70s.

The region’s small, locally-owned businesses have, in general, been hammered by the COVID-19 induced lockdown while the Home Depots and Walmarts have flourished. And restaurants face an even greater challenge as polls indicate that a significant majority of the public isn’t presently comfortable eating inside with strangers as a respiratory virus circulates.

There has been a back and forth the past few weeks between the Stoney administration and the city’s restaurateurs about the timing and rules governing the reopening. While it’s obvious that better communication would be helpful, I don’t think that this will solve the problems that COVID-19 has wrought.

My sense is that we need a much more deliberate and focused effort on saving a community treasure. We need to bring together a diverse group of restaurant owners, the city, neighborhood associations, academics who study public spaces, traffic planners, creatives in the ad community, leaders in the corporate sector, and surrounding local governments to develop short term and long term answers that can preserve (and in some ways enhance) the viability of the region’s food scene and small business owners.

What if Mayor Stoney reached out to an individual who helped to make the Richmond Folk Festival into one of the most innovative, diverse, enjoyable and successful activities that we’ve had in this region? The Mayor could pick up the phone, call one of his former opponents, and ask Jack Berry to lead a mayoral task force.

I don’t know how he could refuse the request.

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