Holsworth: Feb. 12, 2021, 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.

February 12- COVID-19 UPDATE

1. Hospitalizations Trend Down

In my last post 14 days ago, there were 2691 COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Today, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported 2117 hospitalized COVID patients.

There has also been a steady decline in ICU patients, declining from 511 to 430 in the same period while the number of patients on ventilators declined from 309 to 268.

2. Cases and Test Positivity Trend Down

Since January 29, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has reported a daily low of 1700 confirmed cases and a high of 5059, averaging 3306 per day for the last 2 weeks. This is down from the 4900 cases per day in my last report.

The 7-day test positivity percentage has also declined from 12.2% to 10%.

3. Deaths from Post-Holiday Spike Remain High but Starting to Decline

The tragic post-holiday spike in deaths (the worst of the pandemic) remained high with 587 COVID-19 deaths in the past 14 days. There are signs that this is abating as, in the last 7 days, there were 234 reported deaths compared to 353 in the previous 7 days.

4. Vaccine Numbers Improve though Confusion and Frustration Remain

The vaccine trackers I’ve been following contain small data variations, but are showing that Virginia is no longer near the bottom of states in the percentage of the population that has received at least one shot or in the percentage of doses that have been administered.

According to Bloomberg.com, 10.9% of the U.S. population has received the first dose and 70.3% of the vaccine supply has been administered nationwide.

In Virginia, 11.1% of the population has received the first dose and 76.9% of the doses have been administered. This is a noticeable increase in performance.

At the same time, there remains significant confusion and frustration. Some of this is due to the inevitable consequence of a scarcity situation in which demand exceeds supply.

But it is also the result of a state plan that included far more people in the eligibility pool than the number of vaccines that could reasonably be expected to be available. And this has been compounded by technical glitches and poor communication that just increased the frustration level of those hoping to get vaccinated.

Almost everyone seems to have a story either about a lucky find (I have a friend who walked into Kroger, stopped at the pharmacy aisle to ask about a shot, and got vaccinated) or, more frequently, a cancelled appointment, an inability to find one for their elderly parents, or an attempt to chase a rumored availability that ultimately doesn’t pan out.

5. Vaccines v. Variants

Many commentators have framed the current situation as a life or death race to get people vaccinated before more transmissible variants become prevalent.

I tend to think that the vaccine situation is likely to become significantly better in April when the Johnson and Johnson one-dose measure becomes widely available. Former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb believes that, at that time, vaccine hesitancy may become a more significant issue than vaccine supply.

I’m also hopeful that current progress in vaccinating residents in long-term facilities and individuals of advanced age will reduce the level of deaths and severe disease even when the variants become more prevalent.

It does seem to me, however, that choking off the variants will ultimately become the major task in a return to something resembling normality.

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