By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Feb. 23 — While the number of new COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations being reported continues to decrease across the region and the state, the number of deaths being reported has increased dramatically.
The Virginia Department of Health has reported 560 COVID-related deaths across the state in just the last four days. That represents 7.3 percent of the 7,658 pandemic deaths reported in Virginia since March 14, 2020.
The state health department says the influx — which climbed from 10 straight days of less than 40 deaths per day, to ranging from 99 to 172 per day since Saturday — stems from the agency’s current processing of death certificates related to the post-holiday surge in cases.
The Lord Fairfax Health District has also reported a higher number of COVID deaths with 25 over the past week, while reporting only 16 hospitalizations. Frederick County reported nine of those fatalities, while Shenandoah County had seven, Winchester saw four, and both Clarke and Warren counties reported two deaths. Page County reported its 42nd pandemic death on Saturday.
Page County has only reported three new cases of COVID-19 in the last two days. That’s a significant drop-off from the 29 cases of the virus reported in the previous four days.
According to ZIP code data provided by VDH, the new cases of COVID-19 reported over the past week in Page County surfaced in the following areas:
• 18 cases — Stanley area (22851);
• 11 cases — Luray area (22835);
• 6 cases — Shenandoah area (22849).
Page County’s seven-day positivity rate has reversed course and climbed back to 11.6 percent — by far, the highest within the health district.
The county’s positivity rate stood between 17 to 23 percent for about six weeks from mid-December to late January. However, it dropped from 17.6 percent on Jan. 27, to 8.2 percent by Feb. 9 — a decrease of nearly 10 points in less than two weeks. Page’s positivity rate has been fluctuating between 8 to 12 percent since Feb. 9, and has now been rising again over the last three days.
Here’s a comparison of seven-day positivity rates across the health district as of Tuesday morning:
• 11.6% — Page County;
• 8.4% — Frederick County;
• 6.1% — Warren County;
• 5.7% — Clarke County and the City of Winchester;
• 4.3% — Shenandoah County.
Just over 20 percent of those living in Page County have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On Tuesday, VDH reported that 4,940 people in Page had received at least the first dose, with 1,535 county residents fully vaccinated.
Below is a breakdown of vaccine doses administered and those who have been fully vaccinated (two doses) across the health district as of Tuesday’s report:
• 13,139 doses administered, 4,882 fully vaccinated — Frederick County;
• 11,020 doses administered, 4,064 fully vaccinated — Shenandoah County;
• 7,606 doses administered, 2,806 fully vaccinated — Warren County;
• 7,534 doses administered, 5,865 fully vaccinated — City of Winchester;
• 4,940 doses administered, 1,535 fully vaccinated — Page County;
• 4,245 doses administered, 1,687 fully vaccinated — Clarke County.
Harrisonburg and Rockingham County continue to see a dramatic slow down in COVID-19 cases, with only one case between the two jurisdictions reported on Tuesday. However, the city reported two new deaths related to the pandemic, while the county reported four fatalities.
Statewide, 1,769 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday, after seeing 1,155 cases on Monday. That represents only the second time since mid-November that Virginia has reported less than 2,000 cases for two consecutive days.
As of Tuesday, Virginia’s seven-day positivity rate stands at 8.3 percent. The rate had not increased for more than 40 days until Sunday, when it increased by one-tenth of one percent. It has remained steady over the last three days.
Statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 have also stalled after a steady three-week decline and are currently at 1,621, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — a decrease of 228 from a week ago, but up 81 from yesterday.
Among those patients, 315 are being treated in intensive care units — down 86 over the past week. Among those, 196 are currently on ventilators — down 45 in the last seven days. As of Tuesday, 76 percent of all ICU beds in the state are occupied, while 31 percent of all ventilators are in use.
As of Tuesday morning, Virginia had administered more than 1.6 million vaccines for COVID-19, with more than 1.1 million people statewide being vaccinated with at least one dose — about 13.3 percent of the state’s overall population. A total of 497,401 people in Virginia have been fully vaccinated.
Currently, an average of 29,735 doses of the vaccine are being administered each day in Virginia.
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