A trio of indicators show that the COVID-19 pandemic may be easing its grip on Virginia and Northern Virginia, according to new reports Saturday and analysis from University of Virginia.
The numbers of new cases and hospitalizations for treatment of the virus, along with test positivity rates, are all declining and are now at their lowest levels since late November and early December, when the worst surge was beginning.
In addition, U.Va.'s Biocomplexity Institute, which produces weekly modeling updates on the spread of the virus, now says that in all but the worst-case scenario, the number of new cases in Virginia peaked during the week ending Jan. 24. The institute had previously forecast a peak in mid- to late February.
The institute warns that risks remain, especially if the new, more contagious variants of the virus become predominant, vaccinations are slowed and Virginians become lax in their efforts to control the spread - in that scenario, cases could surge again in May.
"Things are looking up," the institute wrote in its update, released Friday. "Cases are dropping at their fastest rate since the pandemic began. Vaccine uptake is increasing. Hospitalizations and deaths are on a decline. While the situation looks promising, the model provides fair warning: We could reach another peak just as high as the one we saw this January if we relax our behavior."
As of Monday, the institute notes, cases are declining in 33 of the state's 35 health districts, with only Loudoun and one district in Southwestern Virginia in "slow growth" mode. Loudoun was in "surge" mode a week earlier.
Statewide, 3,215 new cases of coronavirus were reported Saturday, following 3,191 on Friday. The state's seven-day average is down to 3,035.5, the lowest it has been since Dec. 7, and less than half of the peak it hit Jan. 18, at 6,166.3.
In Northern Virginia, 791 new cases were reported Saturday, following 682 on Friday. The region's seven-day average now stands at 695.1, also less than half its Jan. 18 peak of 1,628.4 and lowest since Dec. 5.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations for treatment of the virus statewide have fallen below 2,000 for the first time since Dec. 8 and are now down 38% from their peak Jan. 13, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association In Northern Virginia, as of Saturday, 340 patients were hospitalized, the lowest level since Nov. 16. The number of patients with COVID-19 in the state's nursing homes is down to 676, that measure's lowest level since Halloween, after peaking at 2,275 less than a month ago, Jan. 14.
Average diagnostic test positivity rates are also down, falling below 10% statewide for the first time since Nov. 29. In Arlington, the rate is down to 5.5%. Experts believe that when test positivity rates are above 10%, not all instances of the virus are being captured. Rates below 5% generally indicate the virus is under control.
Seven-day average test positivity rate by health district (Feb. 13, 2021)
|Alexandria||40.1% / April 23||3.2% / Oct. 18||7.0%||Stable|
|Arlington||42.8% / April 20||2.4% / June 26||5.5%||Down|
|Fairfax||38.6% / April 22||3.3% / Oct. 16||8.9%||Up|
|Loudoun||27.9% / April 28||4.0% / Sept. 30 & Oct. 3||10.6%||Down|
|Prince William||36.7% / April 18||5.4% / Oct. 20||11.6%||Stable|
|Rappahannock||19.2% / Jan. 7||3.5% / July 3||15.9%||Down|
|Statewide||20.6% / April 22||4.5% / Sept. 30, Oct. 1,2,12 & 13||9.8%||Down|
Reported deaths related to COVID-19 have also declined this week statewide, although they remain high. After four straight weeks with more than 300 reported deaths each, 223 new deaths have been reported over the past seven days, with 30 on Saturday and eight on Friday. Death reports tend to lag behind other indicators by several weeks due to the time required to file, process and verify death certificates.
Northern Virginia localities reported a total of five new deaths Friday and Saturday: three in Loudoun County and two in Fairfax County.
Northern Virginia data by locality (Feb. 13, 2021)
|OTHER AREA JURISDICTIONS|
In another piece of positive news, nearly 1 million of Virginia's 8.5 million residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the health department's vaccine dashboard. Nearly 1.3 million doses have been administered in total, out of about 1.67 million that the state has received. And about 304,000 Virginians have received the requisite two doses for the vaccine to be fully effective.
Vaccinations are averaging 34,987 a day, ahead of Gov. Ralph Northam's short-term goal of 25,000 a day, but well behind his longer-term goal of 50,000 a day.
Local vaccination registration systems were shut down Friday afternoon as the state uses the holiday weekend to transition to a statewide online system. That move does not affect Fairfax County, which has a separate system.
LATEST COVID-19 DATA
Northern Virginia: 791 new cases, 2 new deaths.
Statewide: 3,215 new cases, 30 new deaths.
Statewide Testing: 29,300 PCR diagnostic test results.
Northern Virginia: 151,695 cases, 1,721 deaths
Statewide: 547,424 cases, 6,996 deaths
Statewide Testing: 5.58 million PCR diagnostic tests (7.02 million when including antibody and antigen tests)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) cases: 17 (including four in Fairfax, four in Prince William, and one apiece in Loudoun and Alexandria).
*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: 1,991 (down from 2,117 the previous day)
Peak Hospitalizations: 3,209 reached Jan. 13
Patients in ICU: 408 (down from 430 the previous day)
Patients Discharged: 42,887 total
- Nursing Home Patients: 676 (down from 776 the previous day and fewest since Oct. 31)
*Provided by Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association
For updated national and international COVID-19 data, visit the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard.