COVID roundup: Most of Va. is now in vaccine phase 2
NoVa, Peninsula, Hampton still in first phase, but will progress by Sunday
Update, April 13: Virginia Department of Health pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration advise halt due to rare blood clot issue.
The majority of the state has entered the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination as of Monday, opening eligibility to anyone age 16 and older who wants a shot. Still in phase 1c are Northern Virginia and parts of Hampton Roads, among other regions, but the entire state is expected to be in phase 2 by Sunday, the governor has announced.
Meanwhile, the state recorded 10,691 new COVID-19 cases last week and 126 deaths related to the coronavirus, reflecting rising numbers seen elsewhere in the nation. Two weeks ago, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky issued a warning of another deadly surge of the virus, following a similar surge in European cases. Although Virginia has not, some states have dropped masking mandates and loosened other restrictions. As of Monday, the state has reported 636,862 total cases and 10,486 total deaths, and the current seven-day positivity rate is 6.1%, down 0.3% from last week.
Vaccination continues apace, although the number of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses received this week by the state is down significantly due to the mix-up at the Baltimore-based pharmaceutical plant Emergent BioSolutions. Fifteen million doses had to be tossed out, and Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s vaccine coordinator, said the incident might delay efforts to vaccinate college students. As of Monday, 4.7 million doses have been administered statewide, and 36.6% of the population has gotten at least one dose, while 21.3% is fully vaccinated. The state is administering an average of 74,909 shots per day, the Virginia Department of Health reports.
The following counties are in phase 1c, which prioritizes vaccinations for people working in energy, higher education, finance, legal and housing and construction sectors, as well as water, waste removal, food service, transportation and logistics, information technology and communication, media and public safety, and public health workers not included in earlier vaccination phases: Amelia, Arlington, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Fairfax, Greensville, James City, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Prince Edward, Prince George, Prince William, Surry, Sussex and York.
The following cities are in phase 1c: Emporia, Fairfax, Falls Church, Hampton, Hopewell, Manassas and Williamsburg.
Full information on health districts’ phases is available here.
Although there are exceptions in which communities are allowing walk-in vaccination, appointments are still required at most places, even for localities in phase 2. All adult residents of Virginia can now register to get vaccinated at vaccinate.virginia.gov or call (877) VAX-IN-VA, or (877) 829-4682.
The state now ranks 12th in the nation for percentage of vaccine doses administered, according to CDC data analyzed by Becker’s Hospital Review.
As of Sunday, Virginia has seen 349 cases of the U.K. variant, an increase of 159 over the past week. Public health officials, including scientists tracking COVID-19 at the University of Virginia, have warned about the B.1.1.7 variant, which is highly contagious and likely the dominant strain in Virginia. In last week’s report, U.Va. researchers said that the Mount Rogers Health District in Southwest Virginia is experiencing a surge in cases. In addition to the variants, “vaccine hesitancy is the largest long-term risk to containing the impact of the pandemic,” the U.Va. report says.
With race and ethnicity information available for only 60.5% of people who have received shots in the state, the majority of shots have been received by white, non-Hispanic people — 65.2% as of Monday, according to VDH. Black Virginians have received 14.2% of shots, although they make up 19.9% of the state’s population, according to 2019 estimates by the U.S. Census; 9.1% of vaccines were given to Latino residents, who comprise about 9.8% of Virginians.
State health officials have focused attention on equitable administration of vaccinations, especially as Latino and Black residents are heavily represented among people who have been infected, hospitalized and died from the coronavirus. Among Virginia’s COVID deaths for which ethnicity and race were recorded, 24.8% were Black, and 6.4% were Latino.
As of April 8, the following health districts have positivity rates of 10% or higher:
- Mount Rogers — 14.2%, up from 11.4%
- Hampton — 10.9%, down from 13.4% on April 1
Globally, there are 136.2 million reported COVID-19 cases and 2,940,670 confirmed deaths, as of April 12. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 31.2 million confirmed cases so far, with 562,360 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February 2020. According to the CDC, 120 million U.S. residents have received at least one vaccine dose, or 36.4% of the nation’s population, and 74 million people, or 22.3% of the U.S. population, are fully vaccinated.