Hampton Roads seeing a downward trend of positive COVID-19 tests — health officials say don’t get excited

Coronavirus

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — COVID-19 testing sites are bringing people in to find out if they have the coronavirus, but health experts say wearing masks, social distancing, and frequently washing hands make a difference. 

Many of the key indicators show Hampton Roads’ positive cases are coming down. Meanwhile, the state map shows the seven-day moving average also decreasing this month.  

“The Eastern region and Chesapeake are seeing some improvements, although I will say Chesapeake has improved in terms of positivity rate, but we are not yet to the low mark level,” said Chesapeake Health Director Dr. Nancy Welch.  

Let’s go back to the seven-day moving average chart of Virginia. An important point: Cases rose up until June, some health restrictions were lifted in June, cases rose, then the seven-day average line started coming down again.

“My concern is when you look at the trend, we have shown we can decrease our rates, but frankly they are related to the restrictions imposed,” she said. 

So, restrictions were lifted, we reopened, and in July the positive numbers went back up.

“We had a flattened curve then we opened up, and our rates increased. Then restrictions were brought back, and our rates decreased,” Welch added. 

August, with restrictions re-imposed, shows the positive COVID-19 coming back down. 

Welch says we need to do better.

“My goal is that, we as a community, keep a downward trend without having restrictions imposed on us.” 

In July, Welch was so concerned, her health department started cracking down on restaurants and bars.

“We are still having the bar crowd at night. It’s hard to manage that because the owners of the restaurants are reluctant to require some of the masks and some of the distancing.” 

The final decisions to open schools will be left up to the school boards, but if you are looking for a standard on when to reopen, Welch says three weeks of downward trends with positive cases is a good start.  

Welch has an explanation for why three weeks is the number.

“I say three weeks because the general incubation period is two weeks, so it gives us time to get out of an incubation period and see if we have other cases that surface.” 

Based on the numbers, Chesapeake is not in a position to reopen schools. 

Virginia’s current seven-day positivity rate is 6.5 percent, the same as Virginia Beach while Chesapeake is in double digits at 10.6 percent. The Western Tidewater Health District is even higher at 12.7 percent. 

Welch says a consistent rate of five or fewer daily new cases per 100,000 population consistently over time is the best standard.  


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