By Randy Arrington
LURAY, May 20 — Shenandoah County had not even surpassed 100 cases of COVID-19 when it started recording double-digit increases on April 29.
On that date, the Virginia Department of Health reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 in Shenandoah County, bringing the total at that time to 95. Since then, 13 of the last 20 days have produced double-digit increases in new cases — including a peak of 48 new cases reported on May 7 (although this represents two days of results as VDH issued no report on May 6).
In the last nine days, Shenandoah County has seen 95 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to 345.
Health officials have given no specific reasons for the spike in the county that leads the Lord Fairfax Health District in most categories of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been no reported outbreaks in either longterm care facilities or correctional institutions in the county; however, some have speculated that at least a portion of the spread could be coming from meat processing facilities in the area.
The health district reported a total of 38 new cases on Wednesday, with the highest number (16) coming from Shenandoah County. Frederick County reported 11 new cases, while Winchester had eight. Despite the rise in new cases, there were only three new hospitalizations and no new deaths reported in the health district.
Page County only saw one new case surface on Wednesday morning, with no new hospitalizations and no new deaths related to the pandemic.
A breakdown by jurisdiction of total cases within the Lord Fairfax Health District is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):
- 345 — Shenandoah County (33-12)
- 234 — Frederick County (19-3)
- 166 — Page County (19-17)
- 105 — Warren County (11-2)
- 104 — City of Winchester (7-1)
- 19 — Clarke County (2-0)
New data provided by VDH over the last 12 days that breaks down new cases and testing by ZIP code provides a clearer picture in how COVID-19 cases are spreading in Page County. Here’s a look at the cumulative totals in the ZIP code breakdown for Page County as of May 19:
- ZIP code 22835 (Luray) — 100 cases, 231 tested;
- ZIP code 22851 (Stanley) — 49 cases, 108 tested;
- ZIP code 22849 (Shenandoah) — 11 cases, 88 tested.
VDH acknowledges that totals in the ZIP code breakdown may not match their daily reporting because not all forms contained that information.
Although the ZIP code breakdowns are not reported every day by VDH, tracking these reports does allow a deeper analysis of the local impact of the pandemic. The following shows the total number of new COVID-19 cases reported on the date given, followed by the ZIP code breakdown for those cases over the past 12 days:
- May 9 — 5 cases — 2 Luray, 2 Stanley, 1 Shenandoah;
- May 10 — 0 cases;
- May 11 — 1 new case — Stanley;
- May 12 — 0 cases;
- May 13 — 11 cases — 8 Luray, 2 Stanley, 1 Shenandoah;
- May 14 — 3 cases — 3 Stanley;
- May 15 — 2 cases — 2 Stanley;
- May 16 — 13 cases — 13 Luray;
- May 17 — 3 cases — 3 Luray;
- May 18 — 0 cases;
- May 19 — 4 cases — 4 Stanley;
- May 20 — 1 new case — Stanley.
It should be noted that ZIP codes spread well beyond town limits. Therefore, someone with a 22851 ZIP code may get mail in Stanley, but actually live closer to Luray or Shenandoah. However, the ZIP code data provided by VDH does give a slightly more focused area to track the spread of the virus.
Using that data, the area around the Town of Stanley now shows nearly 30 percent of the cases in Page County. By subtracting the 59 cases found in residents of one nursing home in Luray from the total, that would shift Stanley’s share of the COVID-19 cases in the county circulating within the community at 46 percent (49 of 107). By contrast, using those same metrics, Shenandoah has about 10 percent of the cases reported in Page (11 of 107), with Luray carrying about 38 percent (41 of 107).
It should be noted that Stanley is Page County’s least populated town, with about 25 percent of the population of the county seat in Luray.
Across the Massanutten Mountain, Harrisonburg saw 28 new cases of COVID-19 reported by VDH on Wednesday, while Rockingham County had 13. There were only two new hospitalizations between the two jurisdictions, with no new deaths.
In the hot bed of Northern Virginia, outbreaks in Fairfax County slowed slightly on Wednesday with 143 new cases reported — down from an average of well over 200 per day. Fairfax has a total of 8,163 reported cases — 1,133 people have been hospitalized and 302 have died from COVID-19. All of those figures lead Virginia by wide margins over the next highest jurisdiction.
Statewide, 763 new cases were reported Wednesday morning — the lowest figure in four days. Three of the last four days have been well below average for the daily increase of new cases in Virginia. However, it’s still too early to declare a definite downturn in the pandemic.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported on Wednesday morning that 1,536 people (up 39 from yesterday) are currently hospitalized that have either been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. Among those hospitalized, 370 are in intensive care (down seven from yesterday) and 199 are on ventilators (up three).
VHHA also reports that 4,523 have been discharged from state hospitals after being treated for COVID-19.
After reporting only 12 deaths statewide over the weekend, the state health department has now reported 60 new deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two days. That brings the total virus-related deaths in Virginia to 1,074. The first COVID-19 fatality in the state was reported on March 14.
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