As the winter months, colder weather and the holiday season are approaching, the coronavirus numbers, encompassing a number of different metrics, have been increasing throughout Virginia over the last month or so, according to government officials.
At a televised briefing Tuesday afternoon, Governor Ralph Northam said the state is seeing a rise in cases, percent positivity – now at 6.2 percent – and hospitalizations.
The governor stressed the need for Virginians to continue following general health and safety practices like wearing masks or face coverings, washing hands frequently, physical distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings when possible.
“My message today is for every Virginian because we are one state, one Commonwealth and no region is an island,” Northam said. “We all need to step up our vigilance and our precautions, especially as we head toward the Thanksgiving holiday.”
The Virginia Department of Health reported 1,435 new cases on Tuesday, but it is not known how many of those cases are confirmed versus probable. The total number of confirmed cases is now at 178,432 out of 8.5 million Virginians.
As of Tuesday, the daily case incidence rate per 100,000 people is at 17.2, well above the high threshold of 10.0. Three weeks ago, the state’s daily case incidence rate per 100,00 was at 11.8, according to the VDH pandemic metrics dashboard.
In a weekly report from the VDH and the University of Virginia (UVA) Biocomplexity institute, the statewide coronavirus reproduction rate is slightly above one (1.087), which means the virus is spreading quickly. The report also found that the reproduction rate is above one in all six regions of the Commonwealth and is especially high in the far southwest region (1.366).
The current number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in state hospitals is 885. Since the beginning of October confirmed hospitalizations have been slowly increasing, but nearly 22,000 of those patients have been discharged, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association COVID-19 dashboard.
Still, Virginia is faring better than almost all Midwestern states, neighbors Kentucky and Tennessee and the nation as a whole, according to the Biocomplexity Institute report.
Northam also announced contracts with three new labs to participate in the One Lab Network, the state’s coordinated lab testing system, which is expected to allow for 7,000 additional tests per day by the end of 2020.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver also spoke at Tuesday’s briefing to provide information about a potential COVID vaccine.
“We can expect to have a vaccine from one of the many that are in play right now by the end of the year, and I want to let you know that we are ready to get that vaccine and administer it to citizens here in the Commonwealth,” Oliver said. “A COVID-19 vaccine is especially important because in order to stop a pandemic we really have to do our best to increase the immunity that exists in the population.”
Oliver said a state plan for the delivery and distribution of vaccines has already been submitted to and approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but warned that it will take months for the VDH to vaccinate millions of Virginians and take a while to develop that immunity.
The health commissioner emphasized that the number one priority is distributing a coronavirus vaccine that is both safe and effective.
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