COVID-19 hospitalization trends in Virginia

While hospitalizations statewide for treatment of COVID-19 are only about two-thirds of the January peak, the number of patients being treated for the virus in intensive care units hit a new high Friday. 

The number of patients being treated statewide for COVID-19 in intensive-care units hit a record high Friday, as deaths from the virus also increased sharply this week and the Delta variant surge has not yet abated. 

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, which has been tracking hospitalizations since early in the pandemic, reported that 621 confirmed or likely positive coronavirus patients were in ICUs statewide Friday morning.  That's up over 100 patients from a week earlier and easily surpassed the prior high of 588 patients on Jan. 19, during the worst of the winter surge. In addition, the number of patients on ventilators, 343, is just below the January peak of 366.  

The overall number of hospitalizations plateaued a bit this week at 2,174 as of Friday, up just 1.1% from a week earlier.

That's still more than double the number of hospitalizations statewide a year ago, before vaccines were available. Hospitalizations fell as low as 195 in early July, with just 45 patients being treated in ICUs.

A spokesman for the association said last week that the increase in hospitalizations is not nearly as pronounced or sharp in Northern Virginia as it has been in other areas of the state.    

Deaths caused by COVID-19 also jumped this week to 206 statewide, the most since the week ending March 12.  Northern Virginia localities reported 16 new deaths, the most since the week ending May 28: seven in Fairfax County, six in Prince William County, two in Loudoun County and one in Alexandria. 

Meanwhile, the number of new cases, while not increasing as fast as they were earlier in the summer, shows no signs of declining, either in Northern Virginia or the state as a whole.

Northern Virginia's seven-day average of new cases hit 498.8 on Thursday, its highest level since Feb. 19, before falling slightly Friday to 475.9.  That's still 112% above the level on the same date in 2020. 

Statewide, the seven-day average hit 3,688.7 on Tuesday, the highest level since Feb. 2, and stood at 3,624.3 on Friday. That's over 2 1/2 times the level of a year earlier and represents a 7.2% increase over the past week. 

Northern Virginia's seven-day average remains below that in all four other regions of Virginia, which all have fewer residents:

  • Southwest: 946
  • Eastern: 791
  • Northwest: 776
  • Central: 636 

Northern Virginia data by locality (Sept. 17, 2021)

SOURCE: Virginia Department of Health

Locality Cases Hospitalizations Deaths New cases this week New cases last week
Alexandria 13,336 597 143 231 187
Arlington 17,339 893 261 294 309
Fairfax 86,081 4,189 1,148 1,316 1,239
Fairfax City 620 48 19 8 8
Falls Church 502 21 8 9 17
Loudoun 31,654 1,154 287 553 460
Manassas 4,687 205 49 84 53
Manassas Park 1,252 70 11 3 1
Prince William 51,044 1,875 530 833 735
Totals 206,515 9,052 2,456 3,331 3,009
County/City Cases Hospitalizations Deaths New cases this week New cases last week
Fredericksburg 2,708 108 25 104 89
Spotsylvania 13,012 393 134 566 460
Stafford 14,339 429 92 424 413
Fauquier 6,135 253 76 231 173
Culpeper 5,705 195 70 186 167

Meanwhile, updated data on selected outbreaks across the state show two new outbreaks in progress in Northern Virginia, both at Fairfax County nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, which were hit hard in the early stages of the pandemic:

  • Harmony at Spring Hill, eight confirmed cases and between one and four deaths, reported to the health department on Sept. 7
  • Burke Health & Rehabilitation Center, five confirmed cases and between one and four deaths, reported to the health department on Aug. 26.

Newly reported outbreaks that are pending closure, meaning no new cases have been reported in the past 14 days, have also occurred at four Fairfax County schools and two day-care facilities since mid-August: Bailey's Upper Elementary School, Bryant High School, Great Falls Elementary School, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Bright Horizons at Inova Fairfax and Chesterbrook Academy Preschool.  All of those outbreaks involved between two and four positive cases except the one at Chesterbrook Academy, where five cases were reported. (For privacy reasons, the health department does not provide the exact number of cases or deaths in an outbreak when there are fewer than five.)

The health department's dashboard showing the number of breakthrough infections show that between Jan. 17 and Sept. 4, 6,697 infections had been reported in fully vaccinated people in Northern Virginia, resulting in 23 deaths.  Statewide, over 23,000 such infections had been reported, a small percentage of the nearly 387,000 overall cases reported in that time. 

The health department says the data show that unvaccinated people are 8.4 times more likely to develop COVID-19 than fully vaccinated individuals and are 7.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19. 

The pace of vaccinations statewide is about 14,800 a day, according to the state's vaccination dashboard. Vaccinations were as low as 11,000 a day in early July but had been as high as 86,000 a day in late March. As of Friday, over 10.39 million vaccine doses had been administered to Virginians, with 70.8% of the adult population and 59.4% of the total population now fully vaccinated. The health department's vaccination numbers were updated this week to include vaccinations administered to Virginians in Maryland, which mostly affected Northern Virginia numbers but did raise the overall percentages slightly.    

The state's average positivity rate for diagnostic tests remains above 10%, at which point experts believe the spread of the virus is out of control and not all cases are being captured.  Northern Virginia positivity rates remain significantly below the state level, however, and have generally remained steady or fallen slightly.

Seven-day average test positivity rate by health district

SOURCE: Virginia Department of Health

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Field 5
Health District Peak Low Current Trend
Alexandria 40.1% / April 23, 2020 0.8% / July 3 3.8% Up
Arlington 42.8% / April 20, 2020 0.3% / June 22 3.5% Stable
Fairfax 38.6% / April 22, 2020 0.7% / July 1 & 2 4.7% Stable
Loudoun 27.9% / April 28, 2020 0.5% / June 20, 21, 22, 23 5.0% Down
Prince William 36.7% / April 18, 2020 1.1% / June 20 7.1% Stable
Rappahannock 19.2% / Jan. 7 1.3% / June 20 12.2% Down
Statewide 20.6% / April 22, 2020 1.3% / June 25 10.1% Down


New Cases/Deaths (Seven days ending Friday, Sept. 17)

  • Northern Virginia: 3,331 new cases (up from 3,009 prior week); 16 new deaths (up from 6 prior week)  

  • Statewide: 25,370 new cases (up from 23,660 prior week), 206 new deaths (up from 137 prior week)

  • Statewide Testing: 182,111 PCR diagnostic test results (up from 157,460 prior week and most since week ending Feb. 12)     

Overall Totals

  • Northern Virginia: 206,515 cases, 2,456 deaths  

  • Statewide: 827,197 cases, 12,242 deaths

  • Statewide Testing: 8.98 million PCR diagnostic tests (12.30 million when including antibody and antigen tests)  

  • Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) cases: 84 (including 14 in Fairfax, 11 in Prince William, two in Loudoun and Alexandria and one in Arlington). One new case reported statewide this week.

*Provided by Virginia Department of Health. The health department's COVID-19 data is updated each morning (Monday through Friday) by 10 a.m. and includes reports by local health agencies before 5 p.m. the previous day.

Statewide Hospital Data (as of Friday, Sept. 17)

  • Hospitalizations: 2,174 (up from 2,150 on Sept. 10)

  • Peak Hospitalizations: 3,209 reached Jan. 13

  • Patients in ICU: 621 (up from 513 on Sept. 10 and the most ever) 

  • Patients Discharged: 65,446 (1,242 this week)

*Provided by Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association

For updated national and international COVID-19 data, visit the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard.

Editor's note: InsideNoVa is providing regular COVID-19 updates every week. For daily reports, visit the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard

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(5) comments

Janet Smith

FDA just voted for no booster shots. Now what?

George Lawton

Who cares? It’s all endless lies and propaganda.

John Dutko

I love the Herman Cain Award. It is fantastic schadenfreude.

What it's about is you have a candidate (typical anti-vaxxer, muh freedum, covid denier) and there is a collection of their social media posts echoing EXACTLY the same rhetoric as you and a bunch of other people who frequent the comment section.

What I relish is seeing the progression of their claims, then WHOOPS they are in the hospital, picture and all.

And that is usually followed by a statement from one of their loved ones regarding their death and a gofundme request to pay for funeral costs.

If you refuse the shot, be a person of conviction and refuse medical care. Be sick at home and stop taking up ICU beds.

Joe Christmas

It's still a numbers game, Dutko. And the data still shows that if you are under 50, chances are incredibly tiny that you will die from COVID-19. And if you 50- to 60, it's still very tiny. People under 30 dying is almost non-existent. Data also continues to show btw that the folks most likely not to be vaccinated are young people (Dem voters) and African-Americans (also Dem voters). It's just that left wing media (CNN/MSNBC) wants everyone to believe that it's just Republicans voters that aren't.

John Dutko

At this point, if you don't get the vaccine, you are an apathetic idiot.

Doesn't matter what side of the fence you are on.

What IS going to happen though is the medical bills. See, insurance companies were hoping for the vaccine to be widely accepted and used, but it turned out that people are selfish and stupid.

So now, co-pays are back! For the past year, the fed was paying for hospitalization costs (they still will if you don't have insurance, and will be directed toward Medicare/Medicaid; but that's... socialism) and the insurance companies did the moral thing.

Now it's time to rake in the money!

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