PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia reported its lowest number of daily COVID-19 deaths since near the beginning of the pandemic on Thursday, along with 463 new cases, the seventh time in the last 10 days cases have been below 500.

Hospitalizations also dipped below 900 for the first time, down 81 from Wednesday to 857. That’s nearly half of the record 1,625 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on May 8.

June 18 COVID-19 numbers statewide

  • New cases (+463, 56,238 overall) — up slightly from last three days, 7-day average leveling off just above 500
  • New deaths (+3, 1,586 overall) — lowest since early April
  • Hospitalizations (-81, 857 overall) — lowest on record, 7,493 patients discharged (+64)
  • Testing (+7,715, 499,599 overall, 8,524 on average per day) — Virginia is still only ahead of 18 states and U.S. territories in tests per 100K residents
  • 7.2% positive tests, positivity rate under 7% the last 7 days

All of Virginia’s numbers continue to move in a positive direction. Though it initially took a big hit early in the pandemic, Virginia’s daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths have trended down for nearly a month. That’s in contrast to neighboring North Carolina, which hasn’t implemented a face coverings requirement, and other states that have lifted restrictions.

A study of mask-wearing policies of nearly 200 countries conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers suggests that the policies can reduce per-capita deaths rates from COVID-19 by significant levels, the Virginia Mercury reported Thursday.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who implemented the face coverings requirement, isn’t expected to relax those guidelines anytime soon. However he is expected to share details on phase 3, the next phase in Virginia’s reopening plan, on Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Lowest COVID-19 death average in Va. to date

Deaths per day have gone down sharply since they peaked on May 28, the day before Virginia’s face coverings requirement for indoor spaces went into effect. There were 34.1 deaths per day on average on May 28, while the average is now at an all-time low of 9.4 per day.

However, the people who died in the immediate time after the requirement went into effect, when Virginia saw its biggest decrease, were infected ahead of the change, but the data does appear to show some correlation in mask use and deaths.

More than 60% of deaths in Virginia have come in nursing homes/long-term care, but 0 new long-term care deaths were reported Thursday.

  • Long-term care – 945
  • Congregate – 25
  • Correctional – 8
  • Healthcare – 7 
  • Educational – 0

The Virginia Department of Health is focusing on nursing homes to ensure they have enough resources to fight the deadly disease, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing. Partnering with Virginia National Guard, they’ll soon conduct testing at at least 100 nursing homes statewide.

Here are the latest numbers for Tidewater, which has seen case numbers mostly remain the same

Accomack: 1,018 cases, 66 hospitalized,  14 deaths (+1 hospitalization)
Chesapeake: 697 cases, 105 hospitalized, 16 deaths​ (+7 cases, +2 hospitalized)
Franklin: 44 cases, 3 hospitalized, 2 death​s (no increases)
Gloucester: 40 cases, 9 hospitalized, 1 death​ (+2 cases)
Hampton: 251 cases,  37 hospitalized, 5 deaths​ (+3 cases)
Isle of Wight: 158 cases, 15 hospitalized, 8 deaths​ (no increases)
James City County: 237 cases, 57 hospitalized, 15 deaths​ (+1 case)
Mathews: 5 cases, 2 hospitalized, 0 deaths​ (no increases)
Newport News: 402 cases, 43 hospitalized, 10 deaths​ (+3 cases)
Norfolk: 704 cases, 88 hospitalized, 7 deaths​ (+6 cases, +3 hospitalized)
Northampton: 267 cases, 39 hospitalized, 27 deaths​ (+2 cases, +1 hospitalized)
Poquoson: 12 cases, 2 hospitalized, 0 death​s (no increases)
Portsmouth: 402 cases,  60 hospitalized, 13 deaths​ (+7 cases, +1 death)
Southampton: 154 cases, 7 hospitalized, 2 deaths​ (no increases)
Suffolk: 349 cases, 53 hospitalized, 34 deaths​ (+1 case)
Virginia Beach: 936 cases, 112 hospitalized, 27 deaths​ (+13 cases, -1 death)
Williamsburg: 54 cases, 11 hospitalized, 5 deaths​ (no increases)
York: 94 cases, 10 hospitalized, 3 deaths​ (no increases)

Key takeaways from Tidewater

  • 45 new cases, lowest by far this week, 7-day average down from 74 to 71
  • Case figures last 7 days (45, 71, 68, 61, 103, 76, 76) — cases have fluctuated between about 40 and 100, with an average of about 70 per day. Average cases in the Hampton Roads metro area, excluding the Eastern Shore, have fluctuated from about 40 to 60 on average since late April, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission data shows.
  • 1 new death locally in Portsmouth (Hampton Roads metro area has average less than 2 deaths per day since May 29), Virginia Beach had a death taken away, meaning the person lives in another locality

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