Holsworth: July 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.



1. Hospitalizations Remain Steady

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association’s (VHHA) daily report has 1157 COVID-19 patients in hospitals today. There were 1158 patients in my last report on Monday. One week ago, there were 1086 COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

There were 253 patients in ICUs compared to 265 patients Monday and 136 patients on ventilators compared to 125 Monday.

2. Cases at 1000 per Day

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 1022 confirmed cases yesterday. Over the last 4 days, cases are at slightly above 1000 per day and, over the last week, slightly below 1000 per day. At the beginning of the month, we were at 500-600 cases per day.

On one hand, testing has ramped upwards. But the test positivity percentage continues to inch upwards as well. The pandemic low for the 7-day moving average was 5.8%, today it was 7.9%.

There were 59 COVID-19 deaths the last week, down from 87 the previous 7 days. At the same time, there are more patients on ventilators today than on any day since June 14.

Virginia’s 2051 total deaths are, in absolute numbers, the 17th highest in the nation and our death rate per 100K population is 24th in the nation according to Johns Hopkins.

3. Virus Moves to Southern and Southwest Virginia

Hampton Roads (HR) continues to have the most daily cases among the 3 largest metros, HR, NOVA and RVA. The growth in HR has slowed over the past few days and has appeared to stabilize in the 350-400 range. In the NOVA core communities, we are seeing 150-225 cases per day and approximately 70-150 day in RVA.

I am also seeing new increases in COVID-19 cases across southern Virginia and southwest Virginia communities. Danville/Pittsylvania, Martinsville/Henry, Patrick, Tazewell, and Washington are all now coping with more cases. What might be seen as a relatively small number compared to the major metros is experienced as what is described as a “spectacular surge” locally.

4. Superintendents Increasingly Calling for Virtual Reopenings

What a difference two days make!

The momentum in Virginia K-12 public schools this week has moved decisively toward a virtual reopening in September as some of the state’s largest systems have abandoned plans to begin the school year on-site or with hybrid plans.

What appeared to be a diverse, patchwork quilt-like approach to reopening is increasingly appearing to be a virtual reopening, often of undetermined length. Superintendents that recommended hybrid approaches a few weeks ago are this week calling for virtual reopenings.

In the 8 largest jurisdictions in Virginia (Fairfax, Virginia Beach, Prince William, Loudoun, Chesterfield, Henrico, Arlington, and Richmond), 7 superintendents have now called for virtual reopenings. Virginia Beach has yet to make a recommendation, but given the case numbers in Hampton Roads, it’s hard to imagine that reopening there won’t be virtual as well.

It is now apparent that the vast majority of public K-12 students in the Commonwealth will begin the 2020-2021 school year virtually.

The big open question is whether the Trump administration actually moves to act upon its threat to withdraw federal funding from systems that will not begin fully on-site.

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