As Virginia trends down, health district sets new record for COVID-19 cases

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COVID-19 Coronavirus in Page County, Virginia
Page Valley News will have continuing coverage of the Coronavirus' impact on Page County.

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, Jan. 22 — While the statewide positivity rate has consistently fallen over the past 12 days and Virginia has seen its daily case count significantly decrease since Monday, the Lord Fairfax Health District reported a record-high 364 cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

Prior to Friday, the health district’s one-day record stood at 240 cases reported on Jan. 2. Just three days ago, the district saw 224 new cases.

Friday’s regional surge was fueled in large part by huge spikes in Frederick County, and its county seat of Winchester. The city went through most of the pandemic with daily case counts in the single digits. On Nov. 18, it surpassed 20 cases in a single day for the first time, with 29. Twelve days later, Winchester reported 47 cases of the virus on Nov. 30. That represented the city’s high-water mark for new cases, until Friday, when the Virginia Department of Health reported 151 new cases of COVID-19 in Winchester.

Frederick County reported more than 100 cases of the novel coronavirus for only the second time during the pandemic, with 118 cases on Friday. On Nov. 30, Frederick County reported 119 cases.

Friday’s pandemic report across the health district showed much higher case counts than Thursday, when Frederick County and Winchester only reported 40 and 19 cases, respectively. Shenandoah County, who reported 20 new cases on Thursday, had 42 on Friday. Warren County jumped from 15 to 26 cases, while Page County went from six cases reported Thursday to 19 on Friday. Clarke County reported eight new cases both days.

Page County continues to have the highest positivity rates across the health district. Here’s a comparison of seven-day positivity rates as of Friday, according to Daily Locality Metrics data provided on the VDH website:

• 17.8% — Page County;

• 16.7% — City of Winchester;

• 16.2% — Clarke County;

• 13.4% — Frederick County;

• 12.4% — Shenandoah County;

• 8.9% — Warren County.

While being the highest in the district, Page’s seven-day positivity rate did drop more than three points from 20.9 percent on Thursday. On Nov. 16, the rate stood at only 3.4 percent before increasing steadily to a high of 22.5 percent on Dec. 31. After fluctuating around 20 percent for the past month, the county’s positivity rate has shown signs of starting a downward trend over the past week. Friday’s rate of 17.8 percent was the lowest since Dec. 20.

Page County also holds the top spot for 14-day positivity rates across the six jurisdictions within the health district, according to CDC School Metrics provided by VDH. Here’s a comparison:

• 19.2% — Page County;

• 18.5% — City of Winchester;

• 16.7 — Clarke County;

• 12.6% — Shenandoah County;

• 11.2% — Frederick County;

• 8.9% — Warren County.

Page County’s 14-day positivity rate has remained fairly steady over the past six days. The county has had no hospitalizations or deaths reported over the last two days, but Page did report two COVID-related deaths this week — its 37th of the pandemic on Tuesday and its 38th on Wednesday.

According to ZIP code data provided by VDH, the new cases of COVID-19 reported over the last two days in Page County surfaced in the following areas (ZIP code data totals do not always match the county’s daily reports – see details on the VDH ZIP code page link above):

• 8 cases — Luray area (22835);

• 8 cases — Stanley area (22851);

• 7 cases — Shenandoah area (22849);

• 1 case — Rilleyville area (22650).

The Lord Fairfax Health District has reported eight hospitalizations over the past two days, with four of those in Shenandoah County, and two each in Frederick and Clarke counties. Six of the eight hospitalizations were reported on Thursday.

The health district also reported four deaths in the last two days, with two in Shenandoah County (its 85th and 86th pandemic fatalities) and one each in Clarke (its eighth) and Frederick (its 40th). Three of the four deaths were reported on Thursday.

A cumulative breakdown by jurisdiction of the health district’s 14,235 reported cases, 583 hospitalizations and 228 deaths is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):

  • 5,195 — Frederick County (160-40)
  • 3,034 — Shenandoah County (159-86)
  • 2,211 — City of Winchester (83-20)
  • 1,781 — Warren County (73-36)
  • 1,445 — Page County (83-38)
  • 569 — Clarke County (25-8) 

On Friday, Harrisonburg only reported eight new cases of COVID-19, while Rockingham County had 27. Both figures represent big drops from the previous day, when the city reported 20 new cases and the county had 71. Over the last two days, Harrisonburg has reported one new death related to the pandemic, while Rockingham has had seven hospitalizations and four deaths.

Statewide, 4,147 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Friday, marking the fourth-straight day of lower case counts after the three-day surge (Saturday through Monday, Jan. 16-18) that produced 23,916 new cases — by far, the highest three-day count of the pandemic.

Virginia’s seven-day positivity rate continued to drop for a 12th-straight day on Friday and now sits at 13 percent. That’s the lowest the state’s positivity rate has been since Dec. 30.

Statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at 2,972, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — down 126 from Wednesday, and marking a third-straight day of declines.

Among those patients, 509 are being treated in intensive care units — down 45 from Wednesday. Among those, 332 are currently on ventilators — down six from Wednesday.

As of Friday morning, 376,823 people in Virginia had been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, among the more than 1 million doses (including Moderna and Pfizer vaccines) that have been distributed to facilities and agencies across the state. A total of 48,034 people in Virginia have been fully vaccinated. Currently, an average of 19,405 doses of the vaccine are being administered each day in Virginia.

Emergency legislation is being proposed in the General Assembly by a bipartisan group of legislators in Richmond aiming to accelerate the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Virginia. The commonwealth lags behind many states in the percentage of residents vaccinated. The legislation will make hundreds of thousands eligible to serve as volunteer distributors of the vaccine. A lack of manpower has slowed the process, according to health officials.

Here’s a breakdown of vaccine doses administered and those who have been fully vaccinated (two doses) across the Lord Fairfax Health District as of Wednesday’s report:

• 5,502 doses administered, 859 fully vaccinated — City of Winchester;

• 4,661 doses administered, 717 fully vaccinated — Frederick County;

• 3,533 doses administered, 267 fully vaccinated — Shenandoah County;

• 2,551 doses administered, 214 fully vaccinated — Warren County;

• 1,495 doses administered, 101 fully vaccinated — Clarke County;

• 1,295 doses administered, 98 fully vaccinated — Page County.

The state health department reported 62 new deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday, after reporting 79 on Thursday. A total of 6,002 people statewide have died from COVID-19 since March 14 — 1,182 since Christmas.

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