By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Dec. 4 — After falling below 5 percent as recent as mid-October, the positivity rates for COVID-19 cases at the state and local level have now doubled in the last six weeks and climbed back to the 10-percent threshold that worry public health officials about larger community transmission.
On Friday, the Virginia Department of Health reported the state’s seven-day positivity rate at 9.5 percent — on Oct. 12 it stood at 4.5 percent. When COVID-19 numbers were mounting in April and May, Governor Ralph Northam made it a key goal to get the state’s positivity rate under 10 percent. At times in the early stages of the pandemic, sections of the state saw positivity rates well above 20 percent.
According to School Metrics data on the VDH website, Page County currently has a 14-day positivity rate of 10.4 percent. That figure dipped as low as 3.4 percent as recent as Nov. 16.
Using a scale of 100,000 persons, that same set of data shows Page County has seen a 65.2-percent increase in new cases over the past seven days as compared to the previous seven days, and a 254.9-percent increase in new cases within the last 14 days.
While Page County is not seeing the spikes it witnessed in April and May — like the peak of 52 cases of COVID-19 reported on April 25 due to an outbreak at a longterm care facility in Luray — the county is experiencing a more sustained and steady flow of new cases on a daily basis.
With 43 new cases of the coronavirus reported in the last eight days, Page County has averaged more than five cases per day for more than a week, including a peak of 10 cases reported last Saturday. With 83 cases in the last 17 days — marking a 15.7-percent increase in total cases — Page averaged just under five cases per day. For the vast majority of the pandemic that began in March, Page County often saw three cases or less reported in a single day and several times had five or less cases surface within a week — now it’s surpassing that mark on a daily basis.
Over the past five days, ZIP code data provided by VDH shows that the new cases of COVID-19 reported in Page County surfaced in the following areas:
- 12 — Luray area (22835)
- 5 — Shenandoah area (22849)
- 4 — Rileyville area (22650)
- 2 — Stanley area (22851)
Page County has not reported a new hospitalization since the day before Thanksgiving, but the county did report its 33rd death due to the pandemic on Wednesday.
The Lord Fairfax Health District reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That marks the lowest daily total since Nov. 22, and a significant decrease from the 112 cases reported on Thursday.
Frederick County continues to lead the health district with 71 new cases reported in the past three days, while Winchester added another 44. Warren County has reported 62 new cases of the virus in the last three days, with 27 on Wednesday and 30 on Thursday. Shenandoah County has seen 56 new cases since Wednesday.
The district has reported six hospitalizations in the past three days, with three each in Shenandoah County and the City of Winchester.
Clarke County reported its fourth fatality from COVID-19 on Thursday.
A cumulative breakdown by jurisdiction of the health district’s 6,691 reported cases, 455 hospitalizations and 150 deaths is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):
- 2,337 — Frederick County (125-19)
- 1,476 — Shenandoah County (123-63)
- 1,125 — City of Winchester (64-4)
- 930 — Warren County (62-27)
- 610 — Page County (62-33)
- 213 — Clarke County (19-4)
Harrisonburg reported 31 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, after only seeing 16 new cases in the two previous days combined. Rockingham County reported 60 new cases on Friday and 50 cases on Wednesday. Harrisonburg gas seen only one new hospitalization in the past three days, while Rockingham had four. Harrisonburg also reported its 38th fatality from the virus on Thursday.
Statewide, 2,877 new cases of the coronavirus were reported on Friday — a 42-percent increase over the previous day’s total of 2,023. New hospitalizations across the state remained above 100 for the ninth time in the last two weeks.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported on Friday that 1,854 people are currently hospitalized that have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. That figure sets a new state record and continues an upward trend. The state had not seen total hospitalizations surpass 1,500 since April and May, but Virginia has now exceeded that level for 14 of the last 16 days.
Among those hospitalized statewide, 413 are currently in intensive care being treated for COVID-19, according to VHHA — the highest level since May 28, and up 40 over the past week. Currently, there are 187 COVID-19 patients statewide on ventilators — the most since June 1.
Since the pandemic hit Virginia, VHHA reports that 24,998 people who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and were hospitalized, have been discharged.
The state health department reported 13 new deaths related to the pandemic on Friday, and 102 over the past five days. Thursday’s 34 deaths was one of the highest daily totals in the state over the past eight months. Virginia surpassed the 4,000-death mark the day before Thanksgiving and currently reports a total of 4,160 people have died from COVID-19 since March 14.