COVID roundup: Va. to receive more weekly vaccine doses immediately
State expects about 18,000 extra doses from federal government
Virginia expects to receive about 18,000 more weekly COVID-19 vaccine doses starting immediately, as the federal government’s pledge to increase distribution by about 16% kicks in Monday. That will raise the commonwealth’s vaccine supply from 118,000 doses to 128,000 doses per week, said Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccine coordinator.
Meanwhile, the number of virus-related deaths in Virginia rose last week as of Feb. 1, with 393 recorded, an average of 56 deaths per day, or one fatality every 25 minutes. The previous week saw 342 fatalities.
Gov. Ralph Northam last week pledged to accelerate the state’s efforts “to get more shots in more arms more quickly” and also to be more transparent about the process. The governor came under fire from local officials and residents for the state’s apparent lag in vaccination, as Virginia ranked in the bottom of the nation for administering shots per capita — about a week ago, Virginia was administering just below 50% of its available supply of vaccine doses. Neighboring West Virginia, by comparison, has been at or near the top of the nation, administering 85% to 90% of available shots.
However, Virginia has seen a large improvement in recent days and is now 14th in the nation in percentage of distributed vaccines administered, according to a Feb. 1 update by Becker’s Hospital Review, which analyzes data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. As of Monday, 67.61% of 1.2 million doses sent to the state have been administered, the CDC reports.
According to the Virginia Health Department’s most recent information, 8.4% of the state’s population — or 718,823 people — have received at least one dose, and 124,407 Virginians have received two shots and are fully vaccinated.
Although race and ethnicity information was available only for 51.4% of patients, the numbers show the vast majority of shots were received by white, non-Hispanic people, to the tune of 72.5% of patients whose race and ethnicity was given, VDH reports. Women outnumber men 65% to 35%, and the number of recipients by age is spread broadly, with people age 50-59 the top group.
The number of new COVID cases across the state declined last week, with a seven-day positivity rate at 11.7% as of Jan. 28, down nearly 1% from the previous week. There were 29,021 cases recorded, bringing the state’s total to 507,640, and the number of deaths statewide is now at 6,474.
According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, 2,446 people are currently hospitalized with COVID or with test results pending, and 35% of the state’s ventilators are in use for coronavirus patients and others. Also, 53% of ICU beds, including surge beds, are occupied as of Feb. 1. Hospitals have administered 317,837 vaccine doses as of Jan. 26, the most current information available.
Virginia also announced last week that a more contagious variant of the coronavirus — first identified in December in the United Kingdom — had turned up in Northern Virginia. As of Monday, the CDC identifies two cases in Virginia. It is not clear whether the B.1.1.7 strain, which has been recorded in 32 U.S. states in 467 cases, is more deadly than the earlier version. There are two other variants from South Africa and Brazil that have been reported in the U.S. but not in the commonwealth.
Nationally, President Joe Biden is meeting with 10 Republican senators Monday to discuss the COP’s $600 billion coronavirus relief proposal to counter the president’s $1.9 trillion plan, which would offer $1,400 checks to Americans. The GOP proposal would reduce the amount to $1,000. Biden’s administration also is working to purchase more vaccine doses and increase the pace of vaccination, as more than 25 million Americans, or 7.7% of the population have received a first dose.
There was also news regarding new vaccines by AstraZeneca, which has been approved by the European Union for all adults, and Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine, which reported an efficacy rate of 72% in the United States but only 57% in South Africa, where a highly contagious variant strain has developed. Both vaccines are still in the federal approval process in the U.S.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said more people need to be vaccinated quickly to avoid broader spread of the three variants in the U.S.
As of Jan. 28, many of the state’s health districts have positivity rates above 10%. The state’s highest rates and/or sharpest one-week spikes are in the following districts:
- Chesapeake — 19.5%, down from 21.6% on Jan. 21
- Portsmouth — 19.3%, down from 22.3%
- West Piedmont (Franklin, Henry and Patrick counties and the city of Martinsville) — 18.3%, up from 16.3%
- Hampton — 18.0%, down from 18.3%
- Pittsylvania-Danville — 17.9%, up from 16.7%
- Virginia Beach — 16.2%, down from 16.9%
- Central Virginia (Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell counties and Lynchburg) — 15.8%, down from 18.3%
- Rappahannock (city of Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties) — 15.8%, up from 14.2%
- Lenowisco (Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the city of Norton) — 15.7%, down from 18.7%
- Norfolk — 15.7%, down from 17.4%
- Peninsula (Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City and York counties) — 15.0%, down from 16.2%
- Western Tidewater (cities of Franklin and Suffolk and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties) — 14.4%, down from 16.4%
- Mount Rogers (cities of Bristol and Galax and counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe) — 13.8%, down from 17.1%
- Prince William — 13.8%, down from 14.7%
Globally, there are 103.1 million reported COVID-19 cases and 2,231,324 confirmed deaths, as of Feb. 1. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 26.2 million confirmed cases so far, with 441,454 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February 2020.