Richmond Times-Dispatch

Va. sees 2nd- highest daily rise in new cases

- BY SABRINA MORENO

The Virginia Department of Health on Thursday reported 3,915 new COVID-19 cases — the second-highest daily increase recorded in the state. On Wednesday, the state had reported 4,398 new cases.

Virginia is now averaging nearly 3,800 new cases per day over the last week, more than three times higher than the previous peak in August. Virginia’s six highest days of reported COVID-19 cases were all in the past six days.

In a December study from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplex­ity

Institute, which has analyzed pandemic responses from more than 20 years, the situation is changing rapidly, with most health districts in the state reporting their highest rates of new cases.

Starting Thursday, the study predicts Virginia has three possible trajectori­es:

1) No change

2) A 15% decrease in spread with more restrictio­ns

3) A 15% increase in spread with less restrictio­ns

“Societal changes in the past month have led to an increase in transmissi­on rates,” the study said, citing more interactio­ns in schools, holiday travel, family gatherings and fatigue with COVID restrictio­ns. “Population’s behaviors determine the level of control of transmissi­on we can achieve.”

Of the 271,043 total cases reported by the

VDH on Thursday, 235,720 have been classified as confirmed and 35,323 have been deemed probable, meaning people were symptomati­c with a known exposure to COVID-19 but had not yet received a positive test result.

As of Wednesday, there have been 4,335 total deaths. The state’s death toll could reach nearly 5,000 deaths by the end of the year, according to a

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecastin­g model.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Associatio­n COVID-19 dashboard— which presents data back to March 28 — shows a total of 26,016 people have been hospitaliz­ed for COVID-19 and released throughout the pandemic and 2,051 people are currently hospitaliz­ed with the virus or have test results pending.

This marks the highest number of hospitaliz­ations recorded in a single day. The current sevenday moving average is 1,919 people hospitaliz­ed.

According to the VDH’s COVID-19 dashboard, 15,723 people have been hospitaliz­ed statewide for the coronaviru­s, though the VDH website notes this figure under-represents the total number of hospitaliz­ations.

The percentage of positive results from COVID testing is now 11%, the highest percentage since May.

When the state was entering Phase 1 on May 15, the positivity rate was 14.4%.

More than 36,500 cases are associated with the state’s 1,651 outbreaks. The VDH classifies an outbreak as at least two lab-confirmed cases.

Richmond has had 7,406 cases, 515 hospitaliz­ations, 84 deaths and 97 outbreaks.

The Chesterfie­ld Health District, which includes Chesterfie­ld County, Powhatan County and Colonial Heights, has had 11,523 cases, 595 hospitaliz­ations, 175 deaths and 77 outbreaks.

Henrico County has had 9,597 cases, 628 hospitaliz­ations, 266 deaths and 88 outbreaks. Hanover County has had 2,864 cases, 168 hospitaliz­ations and 59 deaths.

The VDH dashboard operates on a roughly 17hour delay in the reporting of statewide numbers. Figures on the website might not include cases or deaths reported by localities or local health districts.

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