Virginia sees significant uptick in COVID-19 cases, deaths
State nears 4,000 deaths as U.S. passes 250,000 fatalities
As the coronavirus spreads dramatically across the nation, Virginia recorded 16,401 new COVID-19 cases and 136 deaths last week, a significant increase in both statistics compared with recent weeks. The previous week brought 11,160 new cases and 93 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
Due to increased testing, though, the seven-day positivity rate remained steady across the state at 7.2%, down from 7.3% last week. As of VDH’s Nov. 23 update, the state has seen 221,038 total cases and 3,942 deaths since March.
More than 250,000 people have died from the virus across the country, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that more than 470,000 U.S. residents could die from COVID-related causes by March 1. The country passed 12 million cases over the past week, an increase of more than 1 million over the past seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The past week also has brought welcome news about three COVID-19 vaccines under development. The British-Swedish corporation AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, announced Monday that its vaccine showed up to 90% efficacy in clinical trials in Britain and Brazil, and unlike two other vaccines developed by Pfizer Corp. and Moderna, it does not have to be stored at subzero temperatures. Pfizer announced last week that its vaccine showed up to 90% efficacy and Moderna’s tested at 95%. If one or more vaccines are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2020, officials say vaccines may be widely available by summer 2021.
Meanwhile, public health experts across the country have pleaded with Americans to prevent further spread of the virus by avoiding Thanksgiving travel. Nonetheless, AAA estimated 50 million people plan to travel by road and by air during the holiday weekend, and airports estimate that this will be the biggest travel period since the start of the pandemic. Gov. Ralph Northam, in his COVID-19 update last week, asked Virginians to “do the right thing” and consider during the holidays that “this year, staying home is an act of love, too.” A week ago, Northam put in place new restrictions, including limiting gatherings to 25 people.
The following health districts reported positivity rates above 10% as of Nov. 19:
- Alleghany (cities of Covington and Salem and the counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke) — 10.9%, down from 11.2% on Nov. 12
- Central Virginia (Lynchburg and the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell) — 10.6%, up from 8.2%
- Chesapeake — 11.7%, up from 7.8%
- Cumberland Plateau (Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties) — 18.7%, up from 16.5%
- Lenowisco (Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the city of Norton) — 19.5%, up from 15.0%
- Mount Rogers (cities of Bristol and Galax and counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe) — 14.2%, down from 15.9%
- Prince William — 10.7%, up from 10.3%
- West Piedmont (Franklin, Henry and Patrick counties and the city of Martinsville) — 13.8%, down from 16.7%
Several Virginia universities report COVID-19 rates among students, faculty and staff members, although some universities use different reporting metrics and methods. Most will not resume classes in person until January, and dashboards will likely not be updated regularly until then.
Here are the most current university stats:
- James Madison University: 1,660 total cases since July 1. The overall positivity rate of student tests at the university’s health center was 1.5% as of Nov. 23.
- Virginia Tech: 1,715 positive tests since Aug. 3, with 54 new cases from Nov. 16-22. The seven-day positivity rate as of Nov. 22 is 1.1%.
- University of Virginia: 1,254 positive cases among students and employees reported since Aug. 17. The university recorded 60 new cases from Nov. 13-19, according to its tracker.
- Virginia Commonwealth University: 462 total positive tests, including 403 student cases, as of Nov. 23. According to prevalence testing, the positivity rate is 0.16% as of Nov. 23.
- Old Dominion University: 187 positive cases out of 7,046 tests performed as of Nov. 16, when its dashboard was last updated. From Nov. 8-14, there were 14 new positive tests.
- George Mason University: 191 positive cases among students and employees between Aug. 17 and Nov. 20, including 26 positive tests in the past week.
- Radford University: 567 total positive cases among students and employees as of Nov. 20, with 24 new cases between Nov. 10-20. Cumulative positivity rate is 9% as of Nov. 20.
- Liberty University: 40 positive cases from Nov. 8-17 among students and staff, out of a total 906 cases between Aug. 16-Nov. 17.
These are the 10 Virginia localities that have seen the most cases in the state, as of Nov. 23:
- Fairfax County: 28,798
- Prince William County: 16,962
- Virginia Beach: 10,168
- Loudoun County: 9,345
- Chesterfield County: 8,698
- Henrico County: 7,844
- Richmond: 6,384
- Norfolk: 6,297
- Chesapeake: 6,080
- Arlington County: 5,856
Globally, there are 58.8 million reported COVID-19 cases and 1,390,516 confirmed deaths as of Nov. 23. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 12.2 million confirmed cases so far, with 256,830 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February.
Below is the latest data from VDH: