COVID roundup: Nearly 25% of Virginians vaccinated; fewer restrictions expected April 1
Total Va. COVID cases exceeds 600k
Nearly a quarter of Virginia’s population has now been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s update Monday, March 22, and counties in the Eastern Shore, Southern Virginia and northern Shenandoah Valley have expanded vaccination to include people in group 1c.
So far, 3.1 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide as of Monday, and 2 million people have been vaccinated with at least one dose — 24.2% of the state’s population. The state is averaging 49,912 administered doses daily, VDH reported.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce some loosening of public gathering restrictions that would take effect April 1, according to multiple news reports. The governor unveiled a tentative plan last week that would allow in-person graduations at schools, colleges and universities outdoors, with a limit of 5,000 people or 30% of the venue capacity. Indoor events will be capped at 500 people or 30%, and masks and social distancing will be required.
Also this week, the state’s cumulative number of cases has reached 605,967, up 10,102 from the previous week, a slight increase. The total number of deaths went up by 67 last week to 10,127, VDH reported Monday. The current seven-day positivity rate is 5.6%, up .2% from the previous week.
As for the state’s vaccination campaign, more doses are arriving weekly and more people are getting their shots, particularly in communities with mass vaccination clinics launched last week — Danville, Petersburg and Portsmouth. On Monday, Prince William County’s clinic opens. Although the clinics offer thousands of shots per day, they are still running by appointment only, as are other vaccination sites. Over the past week, local health departments received 382,990 vaccine doses, which don’t include the number of doses allocated to pharmacies directly by the federal government.
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. Depending on locality, people in groups 1b and 1c are now eligible for vaccination, and pharmacies now have started vaccinating people under the age of 65, including people with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers in group 1b.
Group 1c includes workers from sectors including energy, higher education, finance, legal and housing and construction. Others in group 1c include workers in water, waste removal, food service, transportation and logistics, information technology and communication, media and public safety as well as public health workers not included in earlier vaccination phases. According to VDH, all other localities across the state will move into phase 1c by mid-April.
The state now ranks eighth in the nation for its percentage of vaccine doses administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed by Becker’s Hospital Review.
With race and ethnicity information available for only 64.7% of people who have received shots in the state, the majority of shots have been received by white, non-Hispanic people — 69.2% as of Monday, according to VDH. Black Virginians have received 13.9% of shots, although they make up 19.9% of the state’s population, according to 2019 estimates by the U.S. Census; 6.3% of vaccines were given to Latino residents, who comprise about 9.8% of Virginians.
State health officials have focused attention on equitable vaccination, 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 in which ethnicity and race are recorded, 24.4% were Black, and 6.5% were Latino.
As of March 18, the following health districts have positivity rates of 10% or higher:
- Hampton — 13.9%, up from 13% on March 11
- Portsmouth — 11.1%, down from 12%
Globally, there are 123.3 million reported COVID-19 cases and 2,716,990 confirmed deaths, as of March 22. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 29.8 million confirmed cases so far, with 542,382 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February 2020.