PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia broke another one-day case reporting record on Thursday with 13,500, a day after reporting a then-record 12,112 cases.
That number includes both PCR tests (the standard COVID tests) and antigen tests (rapid tests). The percent of positive PCR tests is 19.3% on average, a record level.
Virus levels are likely much higher, considering the number of asymptomatic/undiagnosed cases and positive at-home tests that may not be reported to the health department.
Tests have been hard to come by, but the Virginia Health Department has guidance on how to find them, and has details about upcoming community testing events.
Virginia’s seen one of the largest increases in cases among states compared to two weeks ago (about a 200% increase), and is around the top 15 highest for cases per capita (about 89 per 100K residents).
Eastern Virginia Medical School Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Edward Oldfield told WAVY the reason for the surge is the Omicron variant.
“It’s probably 20 times more infectious than the original Wuhan strain. It’s probably three times more infectious than delta,” he said.
Virginia’s seeing similar total hospitalizations to the summer delta wave (around 2,100), but ICU and ventilator usage levels are lower. Early data has indicated omicron may cause less severe illness, and doesn’t get into the lungs as much as previous version of the virus, but still poses a serious risk, particularly for unvaccinated people.
Oldfield said the jury is still out on how Omicron will affect the unvaccinated which is about 30% of Virginians.
“And that’s enough to overwhelm the hospital system,” Oldfield said.
With that, Virginia health officials are asking those with “mild” and moderate symptoms to avoid going to the hospital “to avoid unnecessary trips to already burdened hospital emergency departments.”
“Most individuals who contract coronavirus do not need to visit the hospital emergency department and can effectively recover from their illness at home, or by seeking primary care treatment and/or speaking with their primary care provider,” per a release from the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
Those who should come to the hospital are those who have: significant difficulty breathing, intense chest pain, severe weakness, or an elevated temperature that persists for days unabated.
“Unnecessary visits to hospital emergency departments place great strain on hospitals and the frontline healthcare workers who continue to bravely battle the pandemic,” wrote Julian Walker with VHHA. “Such visits can also cause a delay in care for patients experiencing a true medical crisis and contribute to the depletion of finite resources including medical staff, testing kits, personal protective equipment, and therapeutic treatments.”
Walker spoke with 10 On Your Side on Wednesday. You can watch in the video below.
Nearly all of those admitted to hospitals are still unvaccinated, data shows. Doctors are reporting that people who were considered “fully vaccinated” but not boosted have been showing more symptoms, taking at least a week to feel better. Those who were boosted but see a breakthrough infection are able to “almost back to normal” within several days.
Health experts have recommended the mRNA boosters (Moderna and Pfizer) over the Johnson & Johnson for their ability to not only provide even more protection against severe symptoms but also help prevent infection. Johnson & Johnson did release a study on Thursday that said their booster provides a strong increase against severe symptoms, but it’s unclear how much increased protection from infection there is compared to the mRNA vaccines.
2,005,482 Virginians now have a booster/third dose, VDH data shows.
COVID deaths in Virginia (about 25-30 per day on average) have not gone up recently due to the surge, though deaths do lag cases. Deaths are also down about 7% nationwide compared to two weeks ago, data shows.
167 COVID-19 deaths were added to the state’s dashboard this week, but VDH says those were out-of-state deaths of Virginia residents from 2020 finally being added and not recent deaths.
- New cases (+13,500, 1,100,900 total), 8,617 on average (highest levels of pandemic)
- Deaths (+24, 15,565 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 (+87, 2,101 total currently,1,791 7-day average), rising but still below summer delta wave, 418 in ICU (2,513 total beds still available statewide, 413 for ICU)
- Test positivity: 19.3%, rising and at record levels, up from 5-6% last month
- 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
Local case numbers
- Accomack: 4,507 cases, 339 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+44 cases, -2 hospitalized)
- Chesapeake: 32,913 cases, 1,332 hospitalized, 380 deaths (+444 cases, +19 hospitalized)
- Franklin: 1,772 cases, 74 hospitalized, 44 deaths (+9 cases, -1 hospitalized)
- Gloucester: 4,437 cases, 90 hospitalized, 83 deaths (+58 cases, +1 hospitalized)
- Hampton: 17,229 cases, 679 hospitalized, 256 deaths (+250 cases, +24 hospitalized)
- Isle of Wight: 5,031 cases, 234 hospitalized, 93 deaths (+58 cases, +3 hospitalized)
- James City County: 8,380 cases, 249 hospitalized, 100 deaths (+119 cases, +4 hospitalized)
- Mathews: 1002 cases, 29 hospitalized, 24 deaths (+7 cases, +1 hospitalized)
- Newport News: 23,273 cases, 731 hospitalized, 320 deaths (+376 cases, +25 hospitalized)
- Norfolk: 27,564 cases, 1,400 hospitalized, 370 deaths (+389 cases, +22 hospitalized, +1 death)
- Northampton: 1,260 cases, 108 hospitalized, 49 deaths (+21 cases)
- Poquoson: 1,502 cases, 38 hospitalized, 23 deaths (+10 cases, +1 hospitalized)
- Portsmouth: 14,265 cases, 925 hospitalized, 256 deaths (+176 cases, +3 hospitalized)
- Southampton: 2,545 cases, 89 hospitalized, 74 deaths (+11 cases)
- Suffolk: 12,351 cases, 741 hospitalized, 259 deaths (+144 cases, +7 hospitalized)
- Virginia Beach: 57,724 cases, 2,600 hospitalized, 602 deaths (+866 cases, +31 hospitalized, +3 deaths)
- Williamsburg: 1,320 cases, 35 hospitalized, 13 deaths (+13 cases, +1 hospitalized)
- York: 6,392 cases, 133 hospitalized, 87 deaths (+87 cases, +3 hospitalized, +1 death)
To view data on the VDH site, click here.