Virginia May 14 COVID-19 update: Gov. Northam grants Accomack, Richmond requests to be excluded from reopening Friday

Virginia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia reported 1,067 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the most reported in a single day so far, and highest since May 1’s 1,055 reported cases. It also reported 28 new deaths linked to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The number comes just one day before most of Virginia is scheduled to enter “phase 1” of its economic reopening plan. Hard-hit Northern Virginia is delaying its reopening by at least two weeks.

Accomack County, which now has nearly 600 cases and 60-plus more cases than Virginia Beach, voted to request a reopening delay Wednesday night. The City of Richmond also submitted a similar formal request Thursday afternoon.

Northam granted both requests Thursday, extending the localities’ reopening until at least May 28.

“As I have said previously, Virginia’s Phase One guidelines represent a floor, not a ceiling,” Northam said in a news release. “I have encouraged local leaders to request exemptions when appropriate, and I am pleased to grant the delays for both Accomack County and the City of Richmond.”

Northam’s approval amends Executive Order 62 to now include Northern Virginia, Accomack and Richmond.

More than 2/3 of the new cases came in Northern Virginia, keeping with recent trends that show most of the state’s new cases are coming from the region.

Accomack (population roughly 32,000) reported its second highest daily increase so far on Thursday with 48. The county has been waiting on results on the county’s two chicken plants, the main source of its infections, and about 1,500 community tests conducted this past weekend. Thursday’s numbers likely include some of those results, but not all. During Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Accomack’s leaders said they were still waiting on the Perdue and Tyson numbers to be released.

Accomack not only has the third highest rate of per capita cases in the state (behind only Richmond County in the Northern Neck and Buckingham County in Central Virginia), it has more overall cases (593) than Virginia Beach (population 450K), Virginia’s largest city. Fairfax County in Northern Virginia has by far the highest total cases (6,951).

Percentage of positive tests, antibody testing data separated

Thursday’s record increase does come with recent increases in testing (though Virginia only reported 5,467 new tests Thursday, about half of its 10,000 tests per day goal) which have led to a lower percentage of positive results from the overall number of tests each day.

This metric has been touted as one of the main indicators of progress when it comes to containing the outbreak and reopening Virginia’s economy. Virginia still is averaging around 14% positive tests per day, but Virginia officials say that overall number is skewed by high positive rates in Northern Virginia, Virginia’s main source of new cases.

Still, that overall number is higher than the 10% or lower that leading health officials say is necessary to safely reopen.

With that, Virginia officials admitted last week that antibody testing, which is much different than regular PCR (diagnostic) testing for COVID-19, had been added to state’s overall testing data, a discrepancy pointed out by the Richmond Times-Dispatch at Gov. Northam’s May 8 press conference.

The addition of the antibody (serology) tests made that data “impossible” to interpret and artificially lowered the positive percentage of overall tests, Ashish Jha, the K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard, told The Atlantic in a piece titled “How Virginia Juked Its COVID-19 Data.”

The Virginia Department of Health still had not separated the antibody testing data on its main COVID-19 dashboard as of Thursday morning, but did send a press release out on its newsroom page, showing the data broken down with and without the antibody testing data.

VDH says removing the antibody numbers, just over 15,000 from its overall tally makes no major changes to the percent positive numbers.

“Antibody tests make up less than nine percent of overall tests. When these tests are removed from total results, there is minimal change in the percent positive of tests and no difference in overall trends,” VDH says on its website.

More reading: How Virginia Juked Its COVID-19 Data, via The Atlantic

Northam addressed the change in data on Thursday, saying “when I found out recently that data from all types of tests were being combined, I immediately directed that the diagnostic tests be separated out.”

Click here to read more from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Deaths and hospitalizations

Thursday’s increase in deaths (28) is higher than Virginia’s 7-day average (26.6), the third straight day deaths have been above the average, after three days below. Click here for a full locality breakdown of deaths via the Virginia Public Access Project. (click the “map” tab under deaths)

Hospitalizations have remained steady the past week after a slight jump at the end of last week. 1,533 people are currently hospitalized statewide due to COVID-19, per the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Latest Tidewater breakdown for May 14

Accomack: 593 cases, 26 hospitalized 8 death
Chesapeake: 362 cases, 76 hospitalized, 9 deaths
Franklin:  26 cases, 2 hospitalized, 1 deaths
Gloucester: 28 cases, 7 hospitalized, 1 death
Hampton: 156 cases,  29 hospitalized, 3 death
Isle of Wight: 114 cases, 10 hospitalized, 3 deaths
James City County: 174 cases, 53 hospitalized, 15 deaths
Mathews: 5 cases, 1 hospitalized, 0 deaths,
Newport News: 179 cases, 36 hospitalized, 10 deaths
Norfolk: 338 cases, 56 hospitalized, 5 deaths
Northampton: 184 cases 12 hospitalized, 6 deaths
Poquoson: 7 cases, 2 hospitalized, 0 death
Portsmouth: 217 cases,  39 hospitalized, 9 deaths
Southampton: 134 cases, 4 hospitalized, 2 death
Suffolk: 221 cases, 41 hospitalized, 22 deaths
Virginia Beach: 528 cases, 86 hospitalized, 19 deaths
Williamsburg: 42 cases, 9 hospitalized, 3 death
York: 61 cases, 8  hospitalized, 2 death

Key takeaways:

  • Accomack reported 48 new cases, its highest jump since a record of 50 reported cases on May 2, 2 new hospitalizations and 1 new death.
  • Neighboring Northampton reported 10 new cases, 2 hospitalizations and 1 new death
  • No major jumps in the rest of Tidewater, 4 new deaths: 1 in Accomack, 1 in Northampton, 1 in Suffolk and 1 in Virginia Beach

This article is breaking and will be updated.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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