By Randy Arrington
LURAY, May 16 — On Saturday morning, both Page County and the Lord Fairfax Health District saw its biggest one-day jump in new cases of COVID-19 since April 25.
Saturday also marked the second-highest day of reported new cases for both the county and the district since the pandemic began.
The Virginia Department of Health reported 13 new cases in Page, and 44 within the health district on Saturday. The highest one-day gain since the pandemic hit the region in late March was set three weeks ago, when 52 new cases were reported in Page County and 73 in the district.
While the county’s and the district’s April 25 peak can be explained by an outbreak at Skyview Springs Rehab and Nursing Center in Luray, this morning’s spike has no direct explanation at this time.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Page County on March 31, there have only been three days in which the county saw a double-digit increase in new cases. Two of those instances have occurred in the last four days, with 11 new cases reported on Wednesday and 13 this morning.
According to the ZIP code breakdown for cases and testing provided by VDH, the majority (if not all) of the new cases reported this morning seem to have come from the Luray area. While the new data for this particular report covered two days, it shows 13 new cases in Luray, one new case in Stanley and no new case in Shenandoah. Here’s what that report looks like as of May 16:
- ZIP code 22835 (Luray) — 97 cases, 233 tested;
- ZIP code 22851 (Stanley) — 44 cases, 103 tested;
- ZIP code 22849 (Shenandoah) — 11 cases, 85 tested.
This report indicates that 54 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Page County in the last two days.
The majority of the 44 new cases reported today in the health district were spread among three counties — Frederick (14), Page (13) and Shenandoah (12). There were no new hospitalizations reported in the district on Saturday.
Shenandoah County continues to lead the health district with 297 total cases and was the only jurisdiction in the district to report a fatality related to COVID-19 on Saturday. That brings that county’s total deaths during the pandemic to 11. Shenandoah County has now reported a new death from the virus on each of the last five consecutive days.
A breakdown by jurisdiction of the total COVID-19 cases within the health district is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):
- 297 — Shenandoah County (24-11)
- 209 — Frederick County (15-3)
- 158 — Page County (19-16)
- 96 — Warren County (11-2)
- 80 — City of Winchester (4-1)
- 19 — Clarke County (2-0)
Harrisonburg reported 11 new cases, while Rockingham County actually dropped one case overnight (probably a data correction, filing error or reclassification of the illness). Each locality reported two new hospitalizations and no new deaths related to COVID-19.
Statewide, 1,011 new cases were reported Saturday morning, along with 25 new deaths. Virginia’s death toll has now surpassed a significant milestone at 1,002 deaths since the first fatality was reported in the state on March 14. New cases of COVID-19 across the state were averaging about 845 per day over a two-week period near the beginning of the week. However, over the last week, the daily increase of new cases statewide has been as follows: 885, 989, 730, 946, 1,067, 859 and 1,011.
An increase in testing statewide has fueled the slight rise in new cases being reported. The increase in testing has been focused in part on longterm care facilities, where high numbers of tests are being given by state health officials and members of the National Guard.
As part of its efforts to ramp up testing, the state health department on Thursday started advertising hundreds of openings for “contact tracers” to provide additional data to fight the pandemic. The job listings placed on an orange backdrop may be found on the left side of the VDH page that tracts COVID-19 cases. Among the 1,300 openings listed are:
- 200 positions — COVID-19 case investigator (district);
- 1,000 positions — COVID-19 contact tracer (district);
- 10 positions — COVID-19 testing coordinator (regional);
- 10 positions — COVID-19 contact tracing supervisor (regional);
- 70 positions — COVID-19 data manager (district);
- 5 positions — COVID-19 analytics coordinator (regional).
Those interested in any of these positions may click a link on the VDH coronavirus page at the bottom of the orange block for a list of staffing agencies where they may apply.
On Saturday morning, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported that 1,505 people were hospitalized who either have been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. Among those, 381 are in intensive care (up 19 from the day before) and 189 are on ventilators (down six).
VHHA also reports that 3,909 people who were confirmed to have COVID-19 and were hospitalized, have now been discharged.
Fairfax County continues to lead the state with 7,386 cases of COVID-19 reported, along with 1,061 hospitalizations and 278 related deaths. Fairfax is the only locality in Virginia that has seen more than 1,000 of its residents hospitalized from the pandemic. The next highest figure is 340 in Prince William County (where the first COVID-19 case was discovered in the state on March 7).
The only other locality in the state with more than 100 deaths related to the pandemic is Henrico County with 113. The high death rate there came from an outbreak in early April at the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.