By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Dec. 9 — In the last five days, Virginia has set three new state records for new cases of COVID-19. The state had not surpassed 3,000 cases in a single day until Nov. 23, when 3,242 statewide cases were reported. The last five days have all surpassed 3,700 new cases, including Wednesday’s report, which set another state record and surpassed yet another milestone — 4,398 new cases of COVID-19 reported in a single 24-hour period.
If that figure had been reported anytime before Nov. 16, it would have been more than double the previous state record. To put the current statewide surge of new COVID-19 cases in perspective, consider the fact that Virginia did not reach even 2,000 cases per day during the worst days of April and May when the virus swept through the Eastern U.S. The high water mark during that time came on May 26, when 1,615 cases were reported in the Commonwealth.
Virginia first broke the 2,000-mark on Aug. 7, when the Virginia Department of Health reported 2,015 cases due to a “data backlog” that generated a wave of new cases. It didn’t happen again until Nov. 7. The “backlog” disclaimer accompanied some, but not all of the seven VDH daily reports that surpassed 2,000 cases between Nov. 7 and Nov. 22. Now, over the past two weeks, Virginia has surpassed 3,000 cases on seven days, including the last five straight.
In just five days, Virginia has reported a total of 19,748 cases of COVID-19. Currently, the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 10.9 percent — same as Tuesday, but up from 8.3 percent a week ago.
Page County saw its second-highest total for new cases on Wednesday as the state health department reported 19, as well as one new hospitalization. The county has reported 62 cases in the last five days, including 15 on Sunday. Page’s 14-day positivity rate stands at 10.9 percent — down one point from Sunday’s peak of 11.9 percent, according to School Metrics data on the VDH website.
Page County’s highest case count came on April 25 when 52 new cases were reported after an outbreak in a longterm care facility in Luray. While the nursing home outbreak drove COVID numbers in April, the current surge is coming from community transmission and is spread throughout the county.
According to ZIP code data provided by VDH, below is a breakdown of new cases that have surfaced in Page County during the first nine days of December:
• 37 — Luray area (22835)
• 25 — Shenandoah area (22849)
• 15 — Stanley area (22851)
• 5 — Rileyville area (22650)
Across the Lord Fairfax Health District, 167 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. The health district had not surpassed 100 cases in a single day until Nov. 17, when 113 cases were reported. Since then, the district has surpassed 100 cases on 12 of the past 22 days, including the last five days straight. The health district’s new one-day record was set Tuesday at 180 new cases of the coronavirus.
Frederick County continues to lead the district with 314 new cases of COVID-19 over the past five days, including 82 reported on Tuesday and 72 on Sunday. Frederick County has only seen one hospitalization in the past five days, and has not reported a death in seven days. The county seat of Winchester added 34 new cases Wednesday and has seen 109 cases over five days, with four hospitalizations. The city reported its fifth pandemic death on Sunday.
Shenandoah County reported 29 new cases on Wednesday, after seeing 35 on Tuesday and 28 Monday. The county has reported three hospitalizations since Sunday and three deaths. Shenandoah County, at 66 fatalities, has now reported more COVID-19 deaths than Frederick County, the City of Winchester and the City of Harrisonburg combined.
Warren County saw 15 new coronavirus cases surface on Wednesday, after reporting 21 on Tuesday and a total of 63 over the last five days. Warren has not reported a new hospitalization since Friday, but the county did report its 28 fatality from the virus on Tuesday.
A cumulative breakdown by jurisdiction of the health district’s 7,399 reported cases, 467 hospitalizations and 155 deaths is as follows (hospitalizations – deaths):
- 2,651 — Frederick County (128-19)
- 1,606 — Shenandoah County (126-66)
- 1,234 — City of Winchester (68-5)
- 993 — Warren County (63-28)
- 672 — Page County (63-33)
- 243 — Clarke County (19-4)
Harrisonburg added only 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while Rockingham had 35. The surge in the two localities slowed over the last two days, after hitting highs on Sunday of 48 new cases in Harrisonburg and 87 new cases in Rockingham. While Harrisonburg has only reported one hospitalization in the past six days, the Friendly City did reports its 39th pandemic death on Tuesday. Rockinghm has seen a half dozen hospitalizations in the last five days, but no deaths.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported on Wednesday that 2,035 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 marks the first time statewide hospitalizations for the coronavirus have surpassed 2,000. It’s also up 117 from just yesterday.
Among those hospitalized statewide, 436 are currently in intensive care being treated for COVID-19, according to VHHA — an increase of one from yesterday, and still the highest level of the pandemic. Before December, the total number of ICU patients being treated for COVID-19 had only surpassed 400 one time — on May 28 with 416 patients. Now, ICU patients being treated for COVID-19 have totaled more than 400 for seven of the last eight days, and 78 percent of the ICU beds in the state are currently occupied.
There are 200 COVID-19 patients statewide on ventilators — up four from yesterday, and the highest level since May 27.
Since the pandemic hit Virginia, VHHA reports that 25,862 people who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and were hospitalized, have been discharged.
The state health department reported 21 new deaths related to the pandemic on Wednesday, down from a peak of 52 on Tuesday — 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 4,281 people have died from COVID-19 since March 14.