Holsworth: September 1, 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.


A mixed bag today. Good on hospitalizations, but cases and test positivity up and a major university sends the students home.

1. Hospitalizations and Deaths

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported 1039 COVID-19 patients in hospitals today. This is down from 1101 in my report 4 days ago and down from 1174 at this time last week. 3 weeks ago the number was 1293. Obviously an encouraging sign.

The number of Virginians who have died from COVID-19, after decreasing to less than 75 a few weeks ago, is back to more than 100 per week. In the last 7 days, 118 Virginians have passed away from the disease.

2. Cases

In the 4 days since my last report, the Virginia Department of Health has reported 1217, 938, 847, and 1021 confirmed cases, an average of 1006 cases per day.

Notable increases in Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Radford and Charlottesville- all places with significant university populations.

The test positivity percentage that had declined to 6.3% last week has gone back up to 7.7%.

3. JMU Sends Students Home

James Madison, one of Virginia’s premier universities, has gone fully virtual after more than 500 students tested positive for COVID-19 less than a week after classes started. The administration informed students to leave campus by September 7. JMU will let students know by September 25 whether it will be possible to return to campus and on-site instruction after October 5.

Unlike several Virginia public universities. JMU did not require students to be tested prior to returning to campus.

I’ve remarked numerous times about my uneasiness with the lack of explicit statewide guidelines regarding school reopening at both the college and K-12 levels.

The JMU situation is a perfect example. Why should students at some public universities have to be tested while others do not – it is hard for me to imagine that the public health situation is all that different. I’m not claiming that prior testing would prevent case spread if students are going to bars and partying, but pointing out how odd the situation is when we can’t establish uniform public health guidelines for our institutions of higher education.

Let’s hope that the reopening of K-12 is more successful.

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