Holsworth: Sept. 15, 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 Moderately Down

Hospitalizations continue to show a steady and moderate downward trend. One week ago, there were 1051 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, today 1015.

On September 8, there were 240 patients in ICUs and 118 patients on ventilators, today these numbers are 228 and 104.

2. Data Backlog Impacts Interpretation of Death Information

Until this morning, it appeared that I would also be reporting a continued decline in COVID-19 deaths. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 96 additional deaths this morning, with a 7-day total of 153.

VDH posted the following message on its website. “Regarding the death data for Tuesday, September 15, 2020, there is an existing data backlog. VDH is working diligently to identify COVID-19 related deaths using vital record death certificate information.”

Given the likely persistence of a backlog from how VDH obtains death information, we might have to look at month over month data rather than week over week data to see accurate trends.

3. Cases Remain Near 1000 Per Day, Continuing Impact in College Towns

Since my last report on September 10, VDH has reported 1115, 1300, 874, 757, and 943 cases, averaging 998 cases per day.

In terms of the major metros, I’m seeing 200-300 cases per day in the NOVA communities, 100-170 cases per day in RVA (driven by increases in the Tri-Cities), and between 80-160 per day in Hampton Roads (with the recent spike apparently dissipated).

Continued increases in college towns, especially Montgomery County (VT) and Harrisonburg (JMU) are keeping the case count relatively high. With the JMU students sent home, we should expect a decrease in Harrisonburg, though it is an open question whether they will bring the virus back home.

4. Voter Registration Rebounds to 2016 Levels

It had been thought by many observers that the virus would clearly impact voter registration in 2020 and that we would see fewer new registrants than we did in 2016. But the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) reported last week that registration in Virginia has rebounded to 2016 levels. On-site registration at DMV is still the most popular venue, but VPAP reports that internet “apps” have replaced registration campaigns outside grocery stores with “clipboards.” I’m glad to see this level of voter interest and I’ll be interested in learning if replacing clipboards with apps results in any discernible change in voter demographics.

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