Virginia Dec. 23 COVID-19 update: Case levels spiking, 12,445 new infections reported in last two days

COVID-19 Vaccine

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia reported more than 6,473 new coronavirus cases Thursday as the omicron-fueled wave appears poised to blow past the 2020-21 winter surge’s peak in cases.

Those 6,473 cases come a day after the Virginia Department of Health reported 5,972 on Wednesday.

Many people are likely to get infected over the holidays because the omicron it’s at least twice as contagious as delta, but most of those cases should only result in “mild” or asymptomatic cases due to so many people being fully vaccinated/previously infected and because initial data shows the variant appears to be inherently milder than delta.

The bottom line: If you’re considered fully vaccinated (two doses of Pfizer and Moderna or 1 shot of Johnson & Johnson), you’ve still got protection against severe symptoms, but a booster shot increases that protection even further and gives you some protection too against getting infected in the first place (remember that getting a “mild” case of COVID can be enough to make you feel wiped out for a significant amount of time, and infections also bring the potential for long COVID).

You’ll particularly want to get the booster if you had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, because data has shown the single-dose J&J shot alone doesn’t do much against warding off the infection itself. VDH is still offering J&J shots because some people may be allergic to the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) and health experts say any vaccine is better than no vaccine.

Still with the signs that the omicron wave should result in less severe symptoms on an individual basis, the sheer number of new infections could lead to hospitals being overwhelmed even further. Hospitals nationwide are already dealing with burnout and staffing issues, and even small increases in patient levels can have big impacts.

“We are bursting at the seams,” Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief of clinical operation at a West Coast hospital system, told NPR. Virginia currently still has about 2,700 inpatient beds and 444 ICU beds statewide, and hospitalization levels are still about 700 patients below the delta wave and less than half the winter 2020 surge.

Deaths are also still well below the delta summer wave. They’re at about 29 per day, but rising some.

This graph from VDH shows deaths over the last 180 days (the top left description did not update).

*While you’re here, some people have asked about VDH reporting negative hospitalization numbers on certain days. VDH’s chart on the “locality” page is cumulative and not the same as real-time hospitalization numbers (VHHA hospitalizations) so that can result in negative numbers after VDH goes back and reviews its data for errors.

Numbers for a town/city/county or at the state level can be due to several factors. For example, a person may live in a different area than previously reported, or what was once considered a COVID hospitalization based on preliminary data may be corrected after a test comes back negative, etc. Simply put, hospitalizations are not going down in these cases, data is being corrected on the backend.

State metrics

  • New cases (+6,473, 1,040,580 total), 4,378 on average, rising and higher than summer delta wave
  • Deaths (+33, 15,257 total), rising again (29 per day) after falling to 12 per day
  • Current hospitalizations (+24, 1,574 total currently), rising again, still less than half of peak winter surge last year, 382 in ICU (2,709 total beds left statewide, 444 for ICU)
  • Test positivity: 10.6%, rising overall, up from 5-6% last month
  • Vaccine doses administered: 13,765,400
  • Percent of population with at least one dose: 76.6% (6,538,885)
  • Percent of adults (18+) with at least one dose: 88%
  • Percent of population fully vaccinated: 67.2% (5,736,781)
  • Percent of adults fully vaccinated: 77.8%
  • People vaccinated with booster/third dose: 1,882,832

Local cases

  • Accomack: 4,377 cases, 333 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+5 cases)
  • Chesapeake: 31,352 cases, 1,262 hospitalized, 375 deaths (+138 cases, +4 hospitalized)
  • Franklin: 1,727 cases, 73 hospitalized, 44 deaths (+1 case)
  • Gloucester: 4,258 cases, 87 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+21 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • Hampton: 16,287 cases, 602 hospitalized, 252 deaths (+95 cases, +3 hospitalized)
  • Isle of Wight: 4,850 cases, 223 hospitalized, 93 deaths (+14 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • James City County: 7,903 cases, 238 hospitalized, 100 deaths (+62 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • Mathews: 968 cases, 27 hospitalized, 24 deaths (+3 cases)
  • Newport News: 22,121 cases, 668 hospitalized, 313 deaths (+147 cases, +7 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Norfolk: 26,255 cases, 1,320 hospitalized, 366 deaths (+109 cases, +11 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Northampton: 1,221 cases, 107 hospitalized, 48 deaths (+3 cases)
  • Poquoson: 1,450 cases, 37 hospitalized, 23 deaths (+8 cases)
  • Portsmouth: 13,537 cases, 893 hospitalized, 255 deaths (+54 cases, +3 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Southampton: 2,505 cases, 89 hospitalized, 72 deaths (+1 cases)
  • Suffolk: 11,808 cases, 706 hospitalized, 254 deaths (+45 cases, -1 hospitalized)
  • Virginia Beach: 54,450 cases, 2,338 hospitalized, 590 deaths (+427 cases, +16 hospitalized)
  • Williamsburg: 1,291 cases, 31 hospitalized, 13 deaths (+6 cases)
  • York: 6,028 cases, 128 hospitalized, 84 deaths (+9 cases, +1 hospitalized)

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