No new restrictions for Va. despite record COVID-19 hospitalizations, Northam hopes public can be vaccinated by summer 2021


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam didn’t announce any new coronavirus restrictions for Virginia during a press conference Wednesday, but said: “all options remain on the table going forward.”

This comes as Virginia’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to break records for the state. 1,860 people are currently hospitalized statewide, and more than 400 are in the ICU.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Virginia, already at record levels, saw large jumps from Monday to Wednesday, and have climbed by more than 300 patients in a week.

99 new patients were added to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association‘s data of current hospitalizations on Tuesday, and another 103 were added Wednesday, bringing the current total to 1,860 patients statewide.

There are thousands of beds still available but staffing could be an issue if the numbers continue to rise. Northam said Ballad Health in the Southwest portion of the state is sounding the alarm. It’s stopping all non-emergency elective procedures to handle the uptick in hospitalizations there.

“It doesn’t become of question of so much of capacity in terms of bed availability, but it does become a question of staff availability to provide care and treatment to people that are hospitalized,” said Julian Walker, a spokesperson for VHHA.

Though Northam and officials have noted that the commonwealth’s per capita rate of cases remains lower than most of the other states in the country.

Northam also talked about vaccine distribution coming up in Virginia, something he says is “extremely, extremely” encouraging.

Yesterday, a CDC advisory panel voted to recommend healthcare workers and long-term care residents get the first round of COVID vaccine shots.

When a vaccine is approved by the FDA, 70,000 doses are initially expected for Virginia. Right now, state leaders are focused on getting those first doses out fast by identifying hospitals that can properly store the vaccine.

Northam says he hopes the general public will be able to receive vaccines by summer of 2021.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel but there is still going to be a couple of months where we will have to remain vigilant and follow the guidelines,” Northam said.

Local positivity rates

  • Chesapeake — 10.5% — trending up overall
  • Eastern Shore — 8.5% — trending up
  • Hampton — 7.9% —  trending up
  • Norfolk — 7.5% — back down after recent increase
  • Peninsula — 6.6% — trending up
  • Portsmouth — 7.1% — steady overall but a slight increase recently
  • Virginia Beach — 7.8% — trending up overall
  • Western Tidewater —7.4% — trending up

For more information from the Virginia Department of Health, click here.

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