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Holsworth: Nov. 17, 2020, Virginia Covid-19 Update

By Dr. Bob Holsworth

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].


1. Hospitalizations Keep Going Up

In my last post 6 days ago, the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association (VHHA) reported 1265 COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Today, the number is 1392. This is the most COVID patients in hospitals since May 31.

The 272 patients in ICUs is the largest number since August 18th.

The Virginia hospitalization numbers do not include the hard-hit Southwest Virginia residents who utilize Northeast Tennessee hospitals.

2. Case Numbers Reach New Highs

In the last 6 days, the Virginia Department of Health has reported 1521, 1235, 1537, 1161, 2677, and 2125 cases, an average of 1709 cases per day.

This is far and away the highest number of cases in a 6-day period since the pandemic began.

The PCR 7-day test positivity percentage that was 4.6% about a month ago is now 7.4%. Taking into account all tests (which may be important since more Virginians are accessing rapid tests), the 7-day positivity percentage is 8.8%.

I am seeing case increases throughout the state – numbers have gone up in the 3 largest metros, large increases in the Roanoke region, and continued spread in multiple smaller localities.

3. But Denial Persists

From my perspective, the strategy should be relatively clear. We need to do everything reasonable to minimize the cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the next few months while we cross the bridge to the vaccines that appear to be safe and effective. At the same time, there should be additional support for the workers and businesses that are negatively impacted by the public health measures that get us to the vaccine. (The inability of Congress and states to target support for the workers and small businesses that have borne the brunt of the pandemic has been disgraceful.)

But I’m continually surprised by the denials, small and large, that suggest or imply that we’re not in a precarious moment. Don’t get me started on the customers in various retail establishments who have a mask but don’t bother to put it over their nose. (I understand that there may be a good medical reason for some people, but it can’t possibly be everyone that I see.) Even less warranted, however, are the commentators and legislators who are ignoring the statewide increase in cases and hospitalizations as if these are only impacting one region of the Commonwealth.

In one instance, I saw a criticism of the Governor for not exempting Lynchburg from his latest restrictions, though cases surge 40 miles up the road in Roanoke.

The remarkable news about the vaccines enables us to see a finish line for the pandemic. Our task in the next few months is to ensure that as many Virginians as possible get to cross it.