Holsworth: July 13, 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 Spike Again

One week ago there were 783 COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Today, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported 1129 patients in hospitals.

This is below the 1625 patient high on May 8. But the 346 one-week patient increase is the largest 7-day jump since VVHA began reporting on April 8.

2. Hampton Roads Surging? Test Positivity Percentage Up, Concern in Southwest VA

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 851-888-972 confirmed cases during the last 3 days. This compares to 716-639-354 for the same period one week ago.

VDH reported the 7-day test positivity average at 6.8%, up from 5.8% a little more than a week ago.

What remains most striking about the recent increases is that NOVA communities are not leading the case increase. Yesterday, for example, there were 181 new cases in the NOVA communities I follow and 484 in the Hampton Roads communities. For weeks, the Hampton Roads communities were seeing 25-75 new cases per day, yesterday it was close to 500.

The communities in Southwest Virginia typically have smaller populations, but we continue to see case growth in this part of the state as well. Washington County, for example, has officially moved from 60 cases to 80 cases in the last week. But I also received a message from a health care provider who informed me that Washington County residents are often being treated in hospitals located in Bristol, Tennessee, and Johnson City, Tennessee, places that are nearing capacity with COVID-19 patients.

3. Three Big Decisions

-Phase 3 Reopening:

Governor Northam had noted that he expected a measure of case rise to accompany the Phase 3 reopening. Is the increase in cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations and the spread of the virus into regions that had not been seriously impacted within this expected range? Or does it require further adjustments or scaling back of Phase 3.

– Colleges and Universities

Several public university leaders have said that they expect to have students back on campus within a “new normal” environment (I call it the “new abnormal) for the fall semester, starting in mid-August. Given the nationwide trends and the reversal that we are now seeing in the Commonwealth, should these decisions be reconsidered. Are colleges and universities a relative bubble environment or a petri dish? Recent stories about the spread of infection in fraternity and sorority houses indicate the challenge that institutions will face in containing the virus.


I had previously noted that the dialogue about reopening K-12 schools would gear up in earnest after the July 4th holiday. I didn’t know that Fairfax County and its decision to likely pursue a hybrid model would become a specific target for Secretary of Education Devos’ criticism of school systems reluctant to institute a full scale on-site reopening. Everyone seems to agree about the importance of reopening schools, but how to do this safely is as far from settled as possible.

In the fog of war, lots of bad things happen. But having private schools with huge endowments receive millions of PPP money while some public systems don’t know how they’ll have the resources to make facilities safer is hard to swallow.

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