Virginia May 20 COVID-19 update: 33 new deaths reported statewide; 6 on Eastern Shore, 7 in rest of Tidewater


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia reported 33 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, along with 763 new cases, with 6 of those new deaths reported on the hard-hit Eastern Shore.

Daily reported deaths statewide have jumped and fallen sharply, but have mostly been trending down on average since a record 43 deaths reported on May 3, VDH data shows.

636 of Virginia’s 1,074 deaths (59%) have been in long-term care facilities, and 76% of the state’s total deaths have been in people over the age of 70.

Eastern Shore

4 deaths were reported in Northampton County, which already had the highest fatality rate per capita in Virginia. The county of approximately 13,000 people has reported 10 death of its 15 deaths in the past 7 week alone.

Accomack County (population 32K) has one of the highest case rates per capita in the state but a much lower fatality rate. Accomack reported two more deaths Wednesday. It now has 709 confirmed cases and 11 deaths total.

Over half of the Shore’s deaths include people over the age of 70, VDH data shows, with 17 of the 26 either African-American or Latino.

Outbreaks have been reported at 9 facilities — including four long-term care centers — with 555 outbreaks associated with those outbreaks.

Most of the infections have come from Accomack’s Perdue and Tyson plants, where at least 510 people tested positive. Those results still haven’t been fully added to VDH’s total counts. VDH says the labs used to test the chicken plant workers are not connected to VDH’s website system and have to be manually uploaded, and some workers live out of state. It’s still unclear when all of the results will be added.

Accomack decided to delay its phase 1 reopening by at least two weeks, but Northampton entered phase 1 last Friday.

Rest of Tidewater

Meanwhile the rest of Tidewater saw 7 new deaths of Wednesday, including 3 in Suffolk and 2 in Chesapeake. Norfolk and Portsmouth both reported 1 death.

Here’s the latest case breakdown for May 20 (these numbers are cumulative and not a accurate representation of active cases):

Accomack: 709 cases, 39 hospitalized 11 deaths (not all chicken plant cases added)
Chesapeake: 401 cases, 79 hospitalized, 12 deaths
Franklin: 32 cases, 2 hospitalized, 1 death
Gloucester: 29 cases, 7 hospitalized, 1 death
Hampton: 165 cases, 30 hospitalized, 3 deaths
Isle of Wight: 120 cases, 10 hospitalized, 3 deaths
James City County: 189 cases, 54 hospitalized, 15 deaths
Mathews: 5 cases, 2 hospitalized, 0 deaths
Newport News: 211 cases, 38 hospitalized, 10 deaths
Norfolk: 370 cases, 58 hospitalized, 5 deaths
Northampton: 198 cases 14 hospitalized, 15 deaths (not all chicken plant cases added)
Poquoson: 7 cases, 2 hospitalized, 0 deaths
Portsmouth: 241 cases, 39 hospitalized, 11 deaths
Southampton: 137 cases, 4 hospitalized, 2 deaths
Suffolk: 274 cases, 41 hospitalized, 25 deaths
Virginia Beach: 564 cases, 87 hospitalized, 19 deaths
Williamsburg: 43 cases, 9 hospitalized, 3 deaths
York: 63 cases, 9 hospitalized, 3 deaths

Statewide numbers

Meanwhile Virginia’s daily increases in cases may have started to plateau, after reached a record high of 1,067 on May 14. Most of Virginia entered phase 1 the next day on May 15.

Testing lagging behind

Virginia is still lagging well behind its 10,000 tests per day goal with less than 6,000 per day and only about 1,000 more on average than two weeks ago. Leading health officials said Virginia actually needed about 16,600 tests per day to safely reopen under phase 1.

Virginia reported a total of 210,965 PCR diagnostic tests on May 20.

The percent of positive rate statewide is 14.5%, higher than the 10% benchmark health officials have established, but that percentage is skewed by high rates in Northern Virginia, Richmond and the Eastern Shore, which all delayed phase 1 reopening.


Current hospitalizations statewide (1,536) rose slightly Wednesday to their highest level since May 10’s 1,555, but are still about 100 patients below Virginia’s peak of 1,625 on May 8.

4,523 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals in Virginia so far, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association data shows.

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