A year to the day after Northern Virginia hit its peak number of hospitalizations for COVID-19, the University of Virginia predicted the region could reach community immunity from the virus by June or July.
In the latest installment of its weekly report modeling various scenarios for the pandemic, U.Va.'s Biocomplexity Institute said that based on current vaccine acceptance and vaccine update levels, the region could be the first in Virginia to achieve immunity among adults.
U.Va. used the term community immunity rather than the more common "herd immunity" because it noted that immunity is local.
"Some communities may achieve it and safely return to normal, while others are still ravaged by COVID-19," the institute said. For example, it noted, areas of eastern and southwestern Virginia, where vaccine acceptance levels are less than 50%, may not achieve immunity until next year.
During a news briefing Friday afternoon, Dr. Danny Avula, the state's vaccine coordinator, said the state is starting to provide more vaccine doses to primary care providers in an effort to overcome vaccine hesitancy. Vaccines are being provided in smaller shipments, and providers no longer need to quickly use all the doses they receive.
"That's a big shift," Avula said. "Survey after survey shows it's your primary care provider you trust to make health decisions around.”
Avula said the state has basically exhausted its pre-registration list, with the exception of a few thousand people, some of whom may have actually already received vaccines elsewhere.
The state is also trying to make vaccinations more convenient, with an eye toward persuading younger adults to be vaccinated. Many of the community vaccination centers, including the one at the former Gander Mountain store in Woodbridge, are now accepting walk-in appointments, and the state has also begun scheduling more pop-up vaccination clinics.
"Almost everywhere in the state you can go and get a same-day or next-day appointment," he added.
Avula said about 160,000 Virginians have received a first dose of a vaccine but not returned for a second dose within 42 days - or six weeks. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses -- administered three or four weeks apart -- to be fully effective. He said some of the challenges of making appointments may have contributed to the delay and that the state is reaching out to those people to schedule appointments for second doses.
He also said that the state expects vaccines for children ages 12-16 to be approved by late May. A vaccine for younger children is not expected to be approved until late this year or early next year.
DIFFERENT STORY THAN LAST YEAR
On April 30, 2020, 818 patients were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 in Northern Virginia, a number that was not surpassed even during the peak of the pandemic in January. Of those, 175 were in intensive-care units and 103 were on ventilators.
This April 30, Northern Virginia has only 218 patients hospitalized, with just 37 in the ICU and only 24 on ventilators. And the region is reporting its fewest average new daily cases over the past seven days (231.3) since Oct. 20.
The story is similar statewide, as the seven-day average of new cases is down to 1,038.4, the lowest since Oct. 25. Hospitalizations statewide stand at 950 as of Friday, the fewest since Oct. 20. Statewide hospitalizations peaked at over 3,200 in mid-January, when the state was averaging over 6,000 new cases a day.
Deaths related to COVID-19 have likewise slowed considerably, but the state is still reporting about 100 a week. Eight new deaths have been reported in Northern Virginia since Monday -- five in Fairfax County, two in Prince William County and one in the city of Falls Church.
Northern Virginia data by locality (April 30, 2021)
|OTHER AREA JURISDICTIONS|
The percentage of positive diagnostic tests has also fallen, with the state's seven-day average of 4.7% near the low of 4.5% it hit on several occasions last fall. When rates are below 5%, experts believe the spread of the virus is generally under control.
Seven-day average test positivity rate by health district (April 30, 2021)
|Alexandria||40.1% / April 23||3.2% / Oct. 18 & March 16||3.5%||Down|
|Arlington||42.8% / April 20||2.4% / June 26||3.2%||Stable|
|Fairfax||38.6% / April 22||3.3% / Oct. 16||3.7%||Down|
|Loudoun||27.9% / April 28||4.0% / Sept. 30 & Oct. 3||5.6%||Down|
|Prince William||36.7% / April 18||5.4% / Oct. 20||6.1%||Down|
|Rappahannock||19.2% / Jan. 7||3.5% / July 3||7.6%||Down|
|Statewide||20.6% / April 22||4.5% / Sept. 30, Oct. 1,2,12 & 13||4.7%||Down|
Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health's vaccine dashboard shows that 30.6% of the state's 8.6 million residents are fully vaccinated, and a total of about 3.78 million Virginians, or over 44%, have received at least one dose. The percentage of adults who have received at least one dose is higher as vaccines have not been approved for anyone under age 16.
In addition, the health department reports that another 328,000 doses of vaccines have been administered in Virginia by the federal government. These numbers include doses administered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Defense.
The state is currently averaging about 73,000 doses of vaccines per day, a level that has remained steady most of the month.
The state has reported seven new cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, this week, with four of those in Northern Virginia. The syndrome is believed to be related to the virus that causes COVID-19. Of the four new Northern Virginia cases, two were reported in the Prince William Health District and one apiece in the Alexandria and Arlington health districts.
LATEST COVID-19 DATA
New Cases/Deaths (Friday)
Northern Virginia: 253 new cases, 2 new deaths.
Statewide: 1,249 new cases, 19 new deaths.
Statewide Testing: 19,664 PCR diagnostic test results.
Northern Virginia: 180,883 cases, 2,300 deaths
Statewide: 659,590 cases, 10,770 deaths
Statewide Testing: 7.03 million PCR diagnostic tests (9.23 million when including antibody and antigen tests)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) cases: 65 (including 11 in Fairfax, 10 in Prince William, two in Loudoun and Alexandria and one in Arlington).
*Provided by Virginia Department of Health. The health department's COVID-19 data is updated each morning by 10 a.m. and includes reports by local health agencies before 5 p.m. the previous day.
Statewide Hospital and Nursing Home Data
Hospitalizations: 950 (down from 960 the previous day)
Peak Hospitalizations: 3,209 reached Jan. 13
Patients in ICU: 224 (down from 237 the previous day)
Patients Discharged: 54,636
- Nursing Home Patients: 98 (down from 96 Wednesday)
*Provided by Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association
For updated national and international COVID-19 data, visit the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard.