By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Aug. 9 — The Delta variant has now become the dominant strain of COVID-19 across Virginia as new cases continue to rise as an escalating rate. Around July 4, the state was averaging only 182 new cases of the virus per day (over a seven-day average). This past week, Virginia averaged 1,626 new cases per day.
“The Delta variant is here in Virginia, and it is hitting our unvaccinated population especially hard,” State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D, M.A. said in a statement released by the Virginia Department of Health on Friday.
The Delta variant spreads more than twice as easily as earlier strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the VDH press release. Eighty percent of infections that occurred during the week ending July 10 that were caused by a variant of concern and reported to VDH were the Delta variant. This is an increase of 45 percent since the week of June 19. The more infectious delta variant is contributing to a surge of cases in Virginia, and it has been identified in all of Virginia’s five health regions.
Page County reported 36 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week, compared to 22 cases during the two previous weeks. The county also saw one hospitalization due to the virus over the last seven days, but no related deaths were reported.
Page’s positivity rate currently stands at 9.3 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) — up from 7.7 percent last Monday. The county’s positivity rate reached a weekly high of 11.2 percent on Thursday.
The Lord Fairfax Health District reported 382 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week, up from 184 the previous week and 121 the week prior. Frederick County again lead the district with 151 new cases reported over the past week, with another 34 in Winchester. Below is a breakdown of new cases reported in the last week and each locality’s current positivity rate within the health district:
• 151 — Frederick County — 6.9%
• 84 — Warren County — 7.4%
• 67 — Shenandoah County — 8.4%
• 36 — Page County — 9.3%
• 34 — City of Winchester — 9.6%
• 10 — Clarke County — 0.7%
The CDC currently lists Page, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties as HIGH transmission areas for COVID-19, while listing Clarke County and the City of Winchester as SUBSTANTIAL transmission areas.
A total of 244 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered in Page County over the past week — up from 199 the previous week. The number of local residents receiving at least one dose climbed by 165 in the last seven days (up from 130 the previous week), and the number of fully vaccinated residents increased by 96 (up from 78 the previous week). As of Monday’s report by VDH, a cumulative total of 17,748 vaccinations have been given locally, with 9,689 people in the county receiving at least one dose (40.5 percent of the population and 48.8 percent of adults) and 8,808 fully vaccinated (36.9 percent of the population and 44.6 percent of adults).
Statewide, Virginia has administered nearly 9.6 million doses of vaccine, with more than 5.2 million receiving at least one dose and more than 4.6 million individuals, or 65.7 percent of the adult population, being fully vaccinated.
Virginia’s seven-day positivity rate is currently 7.3 percent, up from 6 percent last Monday and 4.3 percent the week prior.
Statewide hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have risen as well over the past week totaling 785 as of Monday — the highest total since early May — with 187 patients in ICU, 50 more than last Monday. The state reported 37 deaths related to the virus over the past seven days — up from 28 the previous week — and a total of 11,571 since March 14, 2020.
“We have a very effective tool to stop transmission of COVID-19: vaccination,” the state health commissioner said in Friday’s press release. “There is no question that COVID-19 vaccination is saving lives and preventing and reducing illness. I urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Do it for your families, your friends, your neighbors, yourself, and join the millions of others who are protected.”
According to the CDC, infections in fully vaccinated people, also known as breakthrough infections, happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated. Moreover, when these infections occur among vaccinated people, they tend to be mild. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant may be infectious and might spread the virus to others.
Unvaccinated individuals and those who are not fully vaccinated should continue wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces in accordance with federal CDC guidance.
Vaccines are available by pre-registration and appointment. To pre-register, or to update your pre-registration record, visit www.vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682). English- and Spanish-speaking operators are available. Translation services also are available, in more than 100 languages. For TTY, dial 7-1-1.