By Randy Arrington
LURAY, May 7 — The death toll related to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rise in Page County.
On Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health reported six new deaths over the past two days — bringing the total in the county to 11. The report also showed nine new cases of the novel coronavirus in Page for a total of 122. One new hospitalization was added as well, increasing the county’s total to 13.
For unknown reasons, VDH did not update data related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday. Therefore, Thursday’s numbers represent two-day increases. VDH has been making changes to its recording and distribution of data due to numerous complaints about what those numbers really mean. Those changes continue, as do issues with the data.
At least eight of the virus-related deaths reported in Page County have been confirmed to be residents of Skyview Springs Rehab and Nursing Center in Luray. Two weeks ago, an outbreak was discovered in which 59 of 109 residents and 18 of 115 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, at least 11 residents had been treated and returned to the facility since the first case was discovered on April 21. Two of the 18 staff members had returned to work earlier this week as well.
With the addition of six new fatalities over the last two days, Page County has now reached a local COVID-19 fatality rate of 9 percent. Per capita, the county’s death rate related to the pandemic is one of the highest in the state, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Here’s a breakdown of the top five localities in the state, as reported by VPAP, based on COVID-19 related deaths per 100,000 residents:
- 61.8 — Greenville County (44 cases – 7 deaths – 15.9%)
- 56.1 — City of Emporia (47 cases – 3 deaths – 6.4%)
- 46 — Page County (122 cases – 11 deaths – 9%)
- 37.7 — City of Harrisonburg (552 cases – 20 deaths – 3.6%)
- 34.5 — City of Colonial Heights (64 cases – 6 deaths – 9.4%)
As a point of comparison, here is the same breakdown (deaths per 100,000 residents) for the five localities reporting the highest number of COVID-19 cases:
- 18.4 — Fairfax County (5,045 cases – 211 deaths – 4.2%)
- 8.3 — Prince William County (2,398 cases – 39 deaths – 1.6%)
- 22 — Arlington County (1,248 cases – 52 deaths – 4.2%)
- 18.2 — City of Alexandria (1,060 cases – 29 deaths – 2.7%)
- 6.3 — Loudoun County (1,043 cases – 26 deaths – 2.5%)
Across the Lord Fairfax Health District, Shenandoah County is clearly the “hot spot” in the region, with 48 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the last two days, along with four new hospitalizations. Shenandoah now has a total of 213 cases, by far, the most within the health district. There were 10 new hospitalizations reported in the district Thursday, with the majority in Shenandoah (4) and Warren (3). Six new deaths were reported by VDH — all in Page County.
A breakdown by jurisdiction of total cases within the health district is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):
- 213 — Shenandoah County (17-3)
- 147 — Frederick County (13-1)
- 122 — Page County (13-11)
- 75 — Warren County (7-0)
- 61 — City of Winchester (2-0)
- 16 — Clarke County (2-0)
Statewide, 1,314 new cases of COVID-19 were reported by VDH on Thursday morning. The two-day total reflects a slight downward trend over the past several days. Virginia reported its highest one-day total for new cases of 1,055 on May 1 — the only day that the figure topped 1,000. The cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in Virginia stands at 21,570.
Thursday’s report also showed a two-day increase of 56 deaths across the state, bringing the total to 769. Virginia reported its first death from COVID-19 on March 14 — seven days after the first case of the new virus was reported by VDH.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported Thursday that 1,613 patients are currently hospitalized across the state who have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. Among them, 371 are in intensive care and 203 are on ventilators. Those figures represent a slight increase in the last few days.
VHHA also reports that 2,825 people in Virginia, who were confirmed to have COVID-19 and were hospitalized, have been discharged.
Testing remains a key focus among state officials with more than 5,000 per day being tested over the last two days. A total of 136,558 tests have been administered since early March to 122,119 unique individuals, according to VDH.
In the last 30 days, testing for COVID-19 has increased and improved across the state. The increase has largely been focused at longterm healthcare facilities, where the majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are occurring. The governor formed a task force in early April focused specifically on longterm care facilities.
Over the last few weeks, VDH has teamed up with the National Guard to conduct point prevalence testing at dozens of longterm care facilities to better understand the spread of the novel coronavirus in these high-risk environments. When this testing is done, all residents and staff are included, thus driving up overall testing numbers in the state over the past two weeks in particular.
There are more than 160 sites where people can receive a COVID-19 test in Virginia, but there is still no dedicated testing site in Page County. Specific criteria is being used by health professionals to determine who should be tested.