Virginia Dec. 21 COVID-19 update: Case average nears delta peak but hospitalization, death levels still below


The graph of Virginia’s case levels over the last 180 days (which includes the delta surge).

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia reported 4,437 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the third-highest one-day total in the past six months, as the commonwealth sees rapid spread fueled by the new, even more contagious omicron variant.

At 3,575 new cases per day on average, Virginia’s almost reached its case levels from the delta wave over the summer, though hospitalizations and death levels are still lower. It’s still unclear if omicron potentially being less potent and/or the impact of vaccinations/boosters are contributing to the difference (WAVY’s Stephanie Harris will have more on hospitalizations coming up tonight).

The omicron variant has quickly become the dominant virus strain in the U.S., accounting for about 3/4 of all cases, the CDC announced Monday, with the percentage even higher in some areas such as New York and the Pacific Northwest. The delta variant is also still circulating.

Here’s how Virginia’s case levels now stack up to the rest of the pandemic. Case levels are still below last winter.

At this point, with the overwhelming prevalence of the virus and how easy it is to spread (scientists believe it’s more than twice as contagious as the previous most-contagious delta strain), scientists say you’re almost guaranteed to interact with the virus in public settings and that the best defense is to be vaccinated.

Early data shows getting a booster dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines not only helps prevent severe symptoms and death, but helps prevent infection from omicron much more than levels of protection from a previous COVID infection or what was previously considered “fully vaccinated” (two doses of mRNA vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson).

However even if you’ve gotten a booster there’s still a higher chance of getting a breakthrough infection with omicron compared to previous virus strains, though it will likely be “mild” or asymptomatic.

State metrics

  • New cases (+4,437, 1,028,135 total), 3,575 cases per day and rising (more than double average from earlier this month)
  • Deaths (+38, 15,174 total), rising again (26 per day) after falling to 12 per day
  • Current hospitalizations (+82, 1,518 total currently), rising again, still less than half of winter surge last year, 378 in ICU and 2,725 total beds left statewide
  • Test positivity: 9.6%, rising overall, up from 5-6% last month
  • Vaccine doses administered: 13,661,704
  • Percent of population with at least one dose: 76.3% (6,516,366)
  • Percent of adults (18+) with at least one dose: 87.8%
  • Percent of population fully vaccinated: 67.1% (5,724,344)
  • Percent of adults fully vaccinated: 77.7%
  • People vaccinated with booster/third dose: 1,813,489

For more vaccine data, click here.

In Virginia and nationwide, we’re still waiting for more data on the omicron’s impact on hospitalizations and deaths.

In the commonwealth, hospitalizations are up at around 1,500 patients, but that’s still well below the delta surge this summer and last winter’s surge (peaked above 3,000 patients. There was an increase of 82 new patients statewide between Monday and Tuesday.

Death reporting has gone up slightly recently but it’s unclear how much is related to omicron. It’s been more than three weeks since the variant was first detected in South Africa.

Hospitalization reporting is up 14% in the U.S. compared to two weeks ago, per the New York Times’ coronavirus tracker. Deaths are up 3%.

President Biden is set to address the omicron wave and announce free at-home tests for Americans during a press conference at 2:30 p.m. WAVY will carry it live on-air and online.

Local cases

  • Accomack: 4,365 cases, 333 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+6 cases, +2 hospitalized)
  • Chesapeake: 31,102 cases, 1257 hospitalized, 375 deaths (+98 cases, +2 hospitalized)
  • Franklin: 1,723 cases, 72 hospitalized, 43 deaths (+6 cases)
  • Gloucester: 4,223 cases, 86 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+53 cases)
  • Hampton: 16,150 cases, 593 hospitalized, 251 deaths (+64 cases, +1 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Isle of Wight: 4,825 cases, 220 hospitalized, 93 deaths (+22 cases)
  • James City County: 7,838 cases, 235 hospitalized,100 deaths (+14 cases)
  • Mathews: 962 cases, 27 hospitalized, 24 deaths (+5 cases )
  • Newport News: 21,978 cases, 660 hospitalized, 310 deaths (+49 cases, -1 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Norfolk: 26,061 cases, 1,301 hospitalized, 365 deaths (+49 cases, -1 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Northampton: 1,215 cases, 106 hospitalized, 48 deaths (no change)
  • Poquoson: 1,435 cases, 37 hospitalized, 23 deaths (+5 cases)
  • Portsmouth: 13,433 cases, 889 hospitalized, 254 deaths (+20 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • Southampton: 2,500 cases, 89 hospitalized, 72 deaths (+2 cases)
  • Suffolk: 11,718 cases, 703 hospitalized, 254 deaths (+34 cases, +4 hospitalized)
  • Virginia Beach: 53,851 cases, 2,606 hospitalized, 590 deaths (+70 cases, -202 hospitalized, +2 deaths)
  • Williamsburg: 1,286 cases, 30 hospitalized, 13 deaths (+3 cases)
  • York: 6,007 cases, 127 hospitalized, 84 deaths (+18 cases, +1 hospitalized)

Local test positivity: 10.3% on average and rising

  • Chesapeake – 9.2%
  • Eastern Shore – 11.9%
  • Hampton – 10.8%
  • Norfolk – 10.3%
  • Peninsula – 9.3%
  • Portsmouth – 10.3%
  • Virginia Beach – 10.6%
  • Western Tidewater – 10.1%

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