Holsworth: July 31, 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 Continue Upward Movement

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has moved moderately upward since my last report three days ago. On Tuesday, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported 1294 patients in hospitals, today the number is 1334.

This is lower than the pandemic high of 1625, but considerably above the 783 patients on July 6.

The number of reported deaths in the last 3 days – 30-16-33 – is the highest 3-day total since the beginning of the month.

All patient ICU occupancy remains at 78% statewide, higher than last year’s 67% average, though if surge capability is taken into account, ICU occupancy goes down to 52%.

2. Daily Cases Remain Between 900-1000.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) daily reports for the last three days had 999, 911, and 984 new confirmed cases statewide. The test positivity percentage inched down from 7.3% to 7.2%.

Of the largest metros, Hampton Roads continues to have the largest number of new confirmed cases – 403, 340, 360. NOVA communities, the largest population region of the state, had 182, 74, and 223 new confirmed cases. New cases in RVA, were 115, 144, and 156 over the 3-day period.

We’ve now seen multiple weeks without significant case rise in NOVA, which I consider the most encouraging sign we can find statewide. It appears that the growth in cases in Hampton Roads may have stabilized, albeit at a relatively high level. RVA has averaged more than 140 cases per day over the past week and I think we need to keep a watch on what is happening here.

Outside the major metros, cases continue to spike in several regions. Increases in Lynchburg-Bedford, Farmville-Prince Edward (which has a major situation in the ICE detention facility in Farmville), Danville-Pittsylvania, Henry County, and Washington County are all points of concern.

3. Schools and Colleges

The momentum toward a fully virtual reopening continues to build for K-12 schools as more superintendents are recommending a more cautious approach to starting school as the virus extends into areas outside the major metros. At the same time, several school boards have decided (on divided votes) to proceed with hybrid reopenings. We’re likely to see further changes as we get closer to the start date.

Old Dominion University in Norfolk announced this week that it was delaying the start of classes for two weeks as COVID-19 cases have risen in Hampton Roads.

While I remain a proponent of independent college boards and local school boards, I think the administration’s relative hands-off position during a pandemic leaves much to be desired. Education is a key responsibility of the state and I would prefer to see more explicit guidance, more active coordination with all the relevant stakeholders, and better communication about what will occur. I worry that confidence in Virginia education will be reduced through a patchwork response that the Governor has not publicly explained and communicated.

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