RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) – As of Friday, May 15, Virginia had 28,672 total COVID-19 cases, including confirmed laboratory tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Photo: Virginia Department of Health
That’s an increase of 859 cases since Thursday, in addition to 10,131 newly reported tests (down from the high test numbers earlier this week), which came out to 8.5% of the latest tests that returned positive – a proportion that is much lower than the current state this.
At 12:01 am on Friday, most of the Virginia area (not included Northern Virginia, as well Richmond and Accomack County after their local leaders requested a delay approved by the governor) entering Phase 1 of the ‘Forward Virginia’ plan to reopen, allowing restaurants to open outside seating with a capacity of 50%, personal care services to open with many safety restrictions in place, houses of worship to operate at 50% capacity, and more business changes are described here.
All decisions made by governors and state officials regarding reopening, for Phase 1 and all future phases, are based on overall trends, which are not undermined by a one-day statistical increase.
So far this week, 989 cases have been reported from Sunday to Monday, 730 from Monday to Tuesday, 946 from Tuesday to Wednesday, and then 1,076 from Wednesday to Thursday. Most of those days came with increased testing and lower ‘positive percent’ rates, but Thursday brought a spike.
So far in May, at an overall “trend” level, the daily increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Virginia has dropped from highs above 1,000 around the beginning of the month.
The decline occurred at the same time as a significant increase in testing reflected on most days, so the 7-day moving average, which tracks the number of cases confirmed as a ratio of the number of tests, has fallen, indicating what appears to be a “curve” behind we.
Therefore, Governor Ralph Northam and his administration determine the metric data met for the reopening phase on May 15.
Virginia is ranked among the states with the lowest per capita tests throughout the pandemic, but state health officials say their aim is not to compete with cumulative testing figures but to focus on getting tests to the people and regions that need them the most.
The reopening of Phase 1, which according to Northam is likely to last two to four weeks, allows a number of non-essential businesses to be reopened, with ongoing restrictions to prevent a potential increase in new cases. He outlining plans for Phase 1 at a press conference last week.
On Monday, he goes into greater detail about the data metrics that his team uses to make calls when to enter which phase, and discusses the current testing situation in Virginia.
Virginia has met the benchmark PPE supply that is stable and the capacity of hospitals open for about two weeks now, with 4,546 hospital beds available and no Virginia hospitals reporting supply problems.
The Commonwealth increased from around 2,000 tests a day to between 3,000 and 5,000 last week, and now it seems more stable about 7,000 to 8,000. The Governor has said his purpose the plan is gradually reopening about 10,000 tests a day, but increased testing is enough to meet the country’s benchmarks on that too.
With increasing testing, the rate of Virginians being tested that receives positive results is slowly but surely decreasing, and that percentage is being considered as a major factor in Virginia’s plans, meeting other benchmarks for reopening.
Number of cases in all states and number of tests as of May 15
On May 15, the Virginia Department of Health received reports of 27,293 confirmed and 1.39 cases of COVID-19 in the whole Commonwealth.
“Possible” cases are cases diagnosed by doctors based on symptoms and exposure without testing – also known as clinical diagnosis.
The positive test results came out of 195,682 total tests conducted in Virginia, which included around 19,000 antibody tests (the Department of Health announced on Thursday that they would separate they will begin to break test data with diagnostic and antibody tests.)
From Sunday to Monday, nearly 10,000 new tests were reported to the health department, which marked a huge increase in testing. Previously, there were an increase of 7,732 tests from Friday to Saturday and 7,005 tests from Saturday to Sunday.
From Monday to Tuesday, the test dropped back to 3,481 on that day. Then, from Tuesday to Wednesday, 8,845 new tests were reported. Now, from Wednesday to Thursday, 5,467 new tests are reported to the department, failing to meet the benchmarks requested by the state administration.
Overall, taking into account the testing rates and positive results, around 14.7% of Virgin citizens who have been tested have received positive results. The recent increase in testing has brought the percentage point down from more than 17%, where it stood a week and a half ago, but slightly bounced back on Thursday.
That number is the key to reopening on schedule, Governor Northam said.
At this point, 3,657 Virginians had been hospitalized due to a disease caused by a virus, and at least 977 had died from causes related to this disease.
The number of hospitalizations and deaths is a total confirmed by the Virginia Department of Health, which is always delayed several days due to logistics from medical facilities that report information to the local health district, when it is then reported to the state health department.
That country website shows many details by region, including hospitalization and death for each city or district, and broken down by zip codes elsewhere on the health department’s website.
The number of hospitalizations is cumulative – they represent the total number of people hospitalized due to illness during a pandemic and not the total number currently in the hospital. For current inpatient statistics, VHHA offers more useful data.
Where is our local case?
According to Virginia Health Department details May 15, 195,682 tests have been run for the virus in Virginia, with 28,672 positive results.
Department location details and maps, publicly available here, shows the number of confirmed cases every day, the number of people tested, total hospitalizations, total deaths and demographic damage, and damage by health district.
Following are the case details for our area at 9 a.m. on May 15. You can find details for the entire state in the chart at the bottom of this article.
• Augusta County – 74 (+4 from Thursday)
• Buena Vista – 8
• Harrisonburg – 620 (+5 from Thursday)
• Highland County – 2
• Lexington – 5
• Rockbridge County – 10
• Rockingham County – 388 (+7 from Thursday)
• Staunton – 34 (+11 from Thursday)
• Waynesboro – 22 (+1 from Thursday)
The plague: 11, with 2 in long-term care facilities, 1 in health care settings, 6 in congregation settings, 1 in correctional facilities, and 1 in education settings
Test total: 4,381
Percent positive local: 26.5%
• Clarke District – 17 (+1 from Thursday)
• Frederick County – 195 (+4 from Thursday)
• County Pages – 145 (+2 from Thursday)
• Shenandoah County – 285 (+4 from Thursday)
• Warren County – 94 (+4 from Thursday)
• Winchester – 79 (+4 from Thursday)
The plague: 15, with 7 in long-term care facilities, 3 in health care settings, and 5 in gathering settings
Test total: 2,161
Percent positive local: 37.7%
• Albemarle County – 133 (+3 from Thursday)
• Charlottesville – 71 (+3 from Thursday)
• Fluvanna Area – 79
• Greene District – 16
• Louisa Regency – 59
• Nelson Territory – 12
The plague: 5, with 3 in long-term care facilities, 1 in correctional facilities, and 1 in congregational settings
Test total: 5,801
Percent positive local: 6.4%
• Culpeper County – 343 (+14 from Thursday)
• Fauquier Regency – 205 (+5 from Thursday)
• Madison County – 23
• Orange County – 51 (+1 from Thursday)
• Rappahannock – 11 (+1 from Thursday)
The plague: 5, with 1 in health care settings and 4 in congregation settings
Test total: 3,848
Percent positive local: 16.5%
Because the number has jumped in some parts of the Shenandoah Valley, many increases have been caused by the plague. On May 15, the Central Shenandoah Health District identified 11 outbreaks and the Lord Fairfax Health District had 15 outbreaks.
In the Central Shenandoah Health District, the largest confirmed outbreak was in Harrisonburg, which has the most confirmed cases in our region. At Accordius Health Harrisonburg, The Virginia Department of Health and UVA Health collaborated to test each resident and staff member, finding 81 residents and 12 positive staff members last month.
On Tuesday, May 5, the facility was completed confirmed 22 deaths because of the corona virus. But this week, no new active infections and 75 patients have recovered.
A separate outbreak in Harrisonburg, at the Harrisonburg Men’s Diversion Center, resulting in at least 25 positive cases, according to the Virginia Penitentiary Department.
The others involve LSC Communications, which confirmed six cases on April 30th. The health district has not publicly identified LCS as the location of the outbreak, but the number of cases they confirmed to employees fulfilled VDH’s definition of the overall outbreak of church congregation. From that date, companies stopped providing updates to their employee hotlines so that media outlets would not have access to information.
Moving north to Lord Fairfax Health District, in Page County, which changed from 30 cases on April 23 to 100 on April 30, most of them were caused by an outbreak in Skyview Springs Rehab, where 59 residents and 23 staff members tested positive for the virus.
On May 13,
This facility has a total of 115 residents.
Colin Greene, with Lord Fairfax Health District, told the WHSV on May 11 that the Skyview Springs outbreak was the only major outbreak in the Page County area.
However, he said they were monitoring five active outbreaks in Shenandoah District. Because the Virginia code prevents identification of facilities with outbreaks, it cannot identify the exact location, but says two in business and three in long-term care facilities.
Of the long-term care outbreaks, one is in a nursing home and two in a residential facility.
There is no sure way to confirm whether it includes the plague being investigated now, but the New Market Poultry Product, which has more than 100 employees working every day, it was confirmed at the end of April that they had positive employees – although exact numbers were not given and there have been no updates since.
No other facility publicly shared information about the COVID-19 outbreak in Shenandoah County, but Blue Ridge Hospice, when announcing the “Heroes’ Parade” for long-term care facilities on May 13, said that several facilities in Woodstock specifically had a COVID outbreak- 19
Greene said the health district was working to increase the number of tests available to the community as a whole, as well as at facilities with known outbreaks, with the assistance of the Northam Governor Care Home Orphanage and Testing Task Force.
At the end of this week, he hopes that the community testing event will be scheduled and announced. He also said the health district would work with a team deployed to the Shenandoah Valley in the coming days to help with testing at the poultry factory.
In the past two weeks, since April 27, cases in Page County have increased from 87 to 129 and in Shenandoah District, from 78 to 250.
Department of health officials have not detailed the majority of our outbreak locations, bearing in mind the Virginia state code requires permission to be given by the facility so that their information can be broadcast to the media. That’s because the Virginia code treats facilities the same as “people,” meaning their anonymity must be protected.
Many local outbreaks have been identified in gathering arrangements, which can include workplaces, apartment complexes, churches, fitness centers, or any arrangement with a group of people in one place.
Of a total of 3,592 inpatients in the state, at least 82 of them are in the Central Shenandoah Health District. Of them, 3 in Augusta County, 43 in Harrisonburg, 32 in Rockingham County, 3 in Staunton, and 1 in Waynesboro.
In the Lord Fairfax Health District, there are at least 75 hospitalizations. Twenty-four of them are in Shenandoah County and 19 in Page County.
As far as deaths, there are 10 reported in Shenandoah County, 16 in Page County, one in Augusta County, 21 in Harrisonburg, and two in Rockingham County.
Death, like all health department data, is reported by the registered person’s residence.
WHSV was confirmed with Cargill, in Rockingham County, that an employee of their Dayton factory died from COVID-19. The company did not provide further details about whether an outbreak was being investigated, even though the situation at the poultry facility in Virginia had been a the governor’s main focus.
Norm Oliver, a state health commissioner, has said that it often takes several days before the local health district can enter death information into the state database. Laura Kornegay, director of the Central Shenandoah Health District, told the WHSV that deaths must first be reported to them by medical facilities, which is the main cause of the delay in the number reported for our area.
Kornegay also explained that if someone tested positive for COVID-19, that was what happened to their death certificate. The death certificate has room to register secondary causes of death, and that’s where ongoing health problems such as heart disease and cancer are registered – the same process is how flu deaths are reported.
West Virginia Update
In the part of West Virginia that we discussed, there were 6 confirmed cases in Grant County, 27 confirmed cases in Hardy County, and 5 confirmed cases in Pendleton County.
Want to know about the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Virginia? Recovery information does not need to be sent to the Department of Health, so there is no accurate way to track that data for every confirmed case.
But there are ways to track the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and have since been discharged – effectively tracking how many people have recovered from the most severe cases.
The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association updates their own data dash every day on hospital-specific statistics, including bed availability, ventilator use, and more. They online dashboard showed that, on May 15, at least 3,805 COVID-19 patients had been discharged from the hospital.
Unlike VDH data that report cumulative hospitalizations, their data on hospitalizations reflect people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 (whether confirmed or pending cases), and the number stands at 1,511.
Data used by VDH to be reported cumulative hospitalization is based on information reported in hospital claims. On the other hand, figures reported by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association are based on the current census of hospitals, which provide separate data sets.
VDH data time
That Virginia Department of Health website COVID-19 update with the latest statewide number somewhere between 9 am and 10 am every day. In the past few days, it continues to spread towards 10am.
The numbers that appear on the list are based on cases that have been submitted to the department by 5 p.m. the previous day, so there was always a time lag between when the local health department announced positive test results and when departmental figures reflected the new results.
Reporting by the local health district
Our Virginia area is served mostly by the Central Shenandoah Health District, which includes the Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, and Rockingham areas, as well as cities in Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro; and Lord Fairfax Health District, which includes the counties of Shenandoah, Page, Frederick, Warren, and Clarke, and the city of Winchester.
Situation throughout the state of Virginia
When Virginia enters Phase 1 of Governor Northam’s plan to gradually reopen the country on May 15, the Commonwealth remained under a series of public health and executive orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Executive Order 53, which closes many non-essential businesses in Virginia and sets Virginia’s 10-person collection threshold, is set to run until May 14, but will be changed, because Governor Northam said the 10-person limit will continue until Phase 1.
Executive Order 55The ‘Stay at Home’ order, signed by Northam on March 30, is currently set to run at least June 10, as it has been since its signing. This instructs all Virginians to stay at home except for important needs. However, Northam Governor said that it would be adjusted to the ‘Safe at Home’ order because Phase 1 began on May 15.
Virginia remained in a state of emergency until June 10.
The Virginia High Court has declared a judicial emergency, which adjournes all non-essential, non-emergency, and such trials currently set to run until May 17.
All DMV offices in Virginia remained closed until May 18, at that time they will begin opening gradually, starting with 11 customer service centers in 7 of 8 Virginia regions (excluding northern Virginia). During the closure, Virginia State Police have not enforced inspections and extensions have been given to people with expired credentials for themselves or their vehicles.
Elective procedures and related offices, such as dentists, can be continued on May 1 after Governor Northam lift up the public health order that initially shut them down.
From the existing orders, Executive Order 53 can be enforced legally, so that someone holding a meeting of more than 10 people can be charged with Class 1 violations. And that will continue to be the case in Phase 1. You can learn more about what the form of enforcing orders is like. Northam’s executive in the police force here.
Most people don’t suffer much of COVID-19, but can cause severe illness in the elderly and people with existing health problems.
It spreads mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people can get the virus by touching objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. In a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can cause death, especially among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear 14 days after exposure to an infectious person.
To reduce the risk of spreading respiratory germs, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers only if soap and water are not available.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hand) when coughing or sneezing.
• Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Avoid contact with sick people.
• Avoid unnecessary trips.
At present there is no vaccine to prevent or antiviral treatment to treat COVID-19. The best way to avoid disease is to prevent exposure, which is why governments around the world have implemented the Stay at Home command.