PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia broke its coronavirus one-day case record again on the last day of 2021 with 17,618 new cases.

More than 60,000 cases have been reported this week already as the very contagious omicron variant spreads. And that’s an undercount of actual virus levels due to shortage of tests/testing capacity and “mild” and asymptomatic cases that are not reported to VDH.

Cases reported each day of the pandemic (Via Virginia Department of Health)

A good metric to look at is the number of tests coming back positive, 21.5% statewide. That’s more than double testing percentages with the delta wave, which shows just how widespread and contagious the omicron variant is.

It is able to infect vaccinated (even boosted) people, but data shows unvaccinated people are much more likely to be infected and are overwhelmingly more likely to get seriously sick and die.

VDH’s chart of new infections the week of Dec. 25 for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Hospitalizations are still below the summer delta wave, with fewer people in the ICU and on ventilators, but they’ve doubled since the start of the month and are expected to continue to increase. The lower infection/hospitalization ratio is due in large part to most of the population being vaccinated/having some form of prior infection (nearly 80% of Virginians are fully vaccinated and more than 2 million have booster doses) and growing evidence that omicron is more contagious but less severe than earlier versions of the virus. There’s also still delta circulating along with omicron, which can cause more severe illness.

Whether it’s omicron or delta, the unprecedented number of new infections is expected to lead to even more hospitalizations in overwhelmed emergency departments in Virginia and across the country, and cause more deaths (Virginia’s still averaging around just over 20 COVID deaths per day and they’re again overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated). On Thursday, the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians asked Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a state of emergency to emergency departments statewide.

“Emergency departments are considered a safety net for those patients in need of care, regardless of insurance status, and are federally mandated and morally obligated to provide care to all those who seek it. However, Virginia’s emergency medicine system is under threat of collapse due to excessive patient volume,” they wrote. They also asked for public health officials to open more testing sites.

Statewide metrics

  • New cases (+17,618, 1,100,900 total), 8,617 on average (highest levels of pandemic)
  • Deaths (+22, 15,587 total), rising again after falling to 12 per day (large reporting increase this week was due to addition of 2020 out-of-state deaths)
  • Current hospitalizations (+81, 2,182 total currently,1,878 7-day average), rising but still below summer delta wave, 438 in ICU (2,519 total beds still available statewide, 388 for ICU)
  • Test positivity: 21.5%, rising and at record levels, up from 5-6% last month

Vaccine data (not updated yet for Friday, this is Thursday’s count)

  • Vaccine doses administered: 13,957,953
  • Percent of population with at least one dose: 77.1% (6,583,499)
  • Percent of adults (18+) with at least one dose: 88.5%
  • Percent of population fully vaccinated: 67.5% (5,763,240)
  • Percent of adults fully vaccinated: 78%
  • People vaccinated with booster/third dose: 2,005,482

Here’s VDH’s breakdown of death rates for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The difference in death rates was particularly pronounced in the summer delta wave.

Here’s how deaths have been reported over the last six months (Reminder that 167 of the 185 new deaths added to VDH’s count on Dec. 28 were 2020 out-of-state deaths of Virginians finally added to the state’s count).

Deaths are still below the summer delta wave but Virginia’s still seeing about 20-25 per day on average. The U.S. as a whole is still reporting more than 1,200 new COVID deaths per day.

Local cases

  • Accomack: 4,545 cases, 340 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+38 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • Chesapeake: 33,380 cases, 1,337 hospitalized, 381 deaths (+467 cases, +7 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Franklin: 1,784 cases, 75 hospitalized, 44 deaths (+12 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • Gloucester: 4,493 cases, 91 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+56 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • Hampton: 17,525 cases, 688 hospitalized, 256 deaths (+296 cases, +9 hospitalized)
  • Isle of Wight: 5,097 cases, 236 hospitalized, 93 deaths (+66 cases, -16 hospitalized)
  • James City County: 8,583 cases, 249 hospitalized, 100 deaths (+203 cases, +4 hospitalized)
  • Mathews: 1014 cases, 29 hospitalized, 24 deaths (+12 cases)
  • Newport News: 23,673 cases, 736 hospitalized, 320 deaths (+400 cases, +5 hospitalized)
  • Norfolk: 27,953 cases, 1,387 hospitalized, 370 deaths (+389 cases, -13 hospitalized)
  • Northampton: 1,263 cases, 108 hospitalized, 49 deaths (+3 cases)
  • Poquoson: 1,514 cases, 37 hospitalized, 23 deaths (+12 cases, -1 hospitalized)
  • Portsmouth: 14,523 cases, 932 hospitalized, 256 deaths (+258 cases, +7 hospitalized)
  • Southampton: 2,559 cases, 90 hospitalized, 74 deaths (+14 cases, +1 hospitalized)
  • Suffolk: 12,561 cases, 743 hospitalized, 259 deaths (+210 cases, +2 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Virginia Beach: 58,611 cases, 2,664 hospitalized, 603 deaths (+887 cases, +64 hospitalized, +1 death)
  • Williamsburg: 1,343 cases, 38 hospitalized, 13 deaths (+23 cases, +3 hospitalized)
  • York: 6,483 cases, 137 hospitalized, 87 deaths (+91 cases, +4 hospitalized)