Page County ranks No.1 in Virginia in pandemic deaths per capita

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

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, May 14 — In a statistical breakdown created by the Virginia Public Access Project that compares COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents, Page County currently leads the Commonwealth.

With 16 deaths reported within the county in the last 16 days, Page’s fatality rate related to the current pandemic has reached 11.2 percent (based on deaths as a percentage of total cases).

Using the VPAP model of deaths per 100,000 residents — which experts are using to get a true reading on the spread and effects of COVID-19 — the top five spots in Virginia are:

  • 66.9 — Page County
  • 61.8 — Greenville County
  • 56.1 — City of Emporia
  • 51.2 — Northampton County
  • 44.3 — Richmond County

Fairfax County still leads the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases at 6,951. Fairfax was also the first locality in Virginia to break 1,000 hospitalizations with Thursday’s report showing 1,019. The “hot spot” also leads in deaths related to the pandemic at 267 (28 percent of all COVID-19 deaths statewide).

However, as experts try to track outbreaks, trace sources and determine the true spread of the virus throughout the state, it’s difficult to compare Fairfax’s figures (where there are more than 1 million residents) with the data provided for Page County (where there are less than 24,000 residents). That’s why experts are using the new criteria to analyze pandemic data across various jurisdictions.

While Page County statistically leads the state in COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents, due to strict privacy laws it remains unclear if all of the fatalities being reported by the state can be attributed to the deaths reported by a Luray nursing home.

On Tuesday, Skyview Springs Rehab and Nursing Center reported that 16 of its 59 residents that tested positive for COVID-19 have died. After lagging behind in reporting the fatalities, the Virginia Department of Health reported a cumulative total of 16 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

A quick timeline of the last three weeks at Skyview Springs shows the lag in reporting time:

  • April 21 — first case of COVID-19 detected;
  • April 22 — all 109 residents and 117 staff tested;
  • April 24 — results show 59 residents and 18 staff test positive;
  • April 25 — VDH report shows a dramatic jump in cases;
  • April 27 — first COVID-19 death occurs at the facility;
  • April 29 — VDH reports first death in county;
  • May 2 — VDH reports second death, and Skyview acknowledges first confirmed death at the facility;
  • May 5 — VDH reports five deaths in Page, and Skyview reports eight deaths;
  • May 7 — six more deaths reported by VDH for a total of 11, and Skyview reports 12 deaths;
  • May 8 — Skyview reports 14 deaths;
  • May 9 — VDH reports 12 deaths;
  • May 12 — Skyview reports 16 deaths;
  • May 13 — VDH reports 16 deaths.

On Thursday morning, VDH reported three new cases of COVID-19 in Page County, bringing the cumulative total to 143. A total of 19 people in the county have been hospitalized since the first case was reported on March 31.

VDH also provided an update to its ZIP code breakdown of cases across the state on Thursday. However, the state health department notes that not all of the data they have can be broken down by ZIP code because that information was not provided on all reports, so totals may not match the VDH report. Here’s a look at that breakdown through May 13 for Page County:

  • ZIP code 22835 (Luray) — 84 cases, 197 tested
  • ZIP code 22851 (Stanley) — 40 cases, 93 tested
  • ZIP code 22849 (Shenandoah) — 11 cases, 77 tested

ZIP code data is not provided every day by VDH. The last data provided was through May 11. For the two days between the two reports, the above figures represent eight new cases in Luray, two new cases in Stanley and one in Shenandoah.

The Lord Fairfax Health District saw 23 new cases reported on Thursday, with only two new hospitalizations. However, three new deaths were reported by VDH, with one each in Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties. The bulk of the new cases surfaced in Frederick (9) and Shenandoah (7). A breakdown by jurisdiction of total cases within the health district is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):

  • 278 — Shenandoah County (24-9)
  • 191 — Frederick County (15-3)
  • 143 — Page County (19-16)
  • 90 — Warren County (11-2)
  • 75 — City of Winchester (3-1)
  • 16 — Clarke County (2-0)

Both Harrisonburg and Rockingham County each reported eight new cases overnight, with four new hospitalizations and no new deaths.

Statewide, 1,067 new cases were reported on Thursday — the highest one-day increase in new cases since the first case was reported in Virginia on March 7. That total also marks the third-straight day of increases in new cases in the state.

An increase in testing has driven up the number of new cases in recent weeks; however, yesterday’s testing totals were a little more than half of the number of tests administered the previous day. While Governor Ralph Northam had previously stated a goal of reaching 10,000 tests per day in Virginia, daily totals have ranged from nearly 15,000 tested on April 30 to less than 3,000 on May 3. The average daily testing in May has been between 6,000 to 7,000 statewide.

On Thursday, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported that 1,533 people are currently hospitalized in the state that have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. That figure has fluctuated over the last week, from 1,555 four days ago to 1,526 yesterday.

Among those hospitalized, VHHA reports that 355 are in intensive care (down 19 from yesterday) and 201 are on ventilators (down one).

VDH reported 28 new deaths related to the pandemic on Thursday, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in Virginia to 955.

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