President Joe Biden joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday morning to celebrate the end of the state's COVID-19 restrictions, as cases in Northern Virginia have fallen to their lowest level since the early days of the pandemic in March 2020.
Biden and Northam made a joint appearance at the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria.
Two weeks ago, Northam announced the end of all of Virginia's coronavirus restrictions, effective today. The move means that restaurants and entertainment venues can operate at full capacity, there are no limits on gatherings, and social-distancing requirements are no longer in place. Northam also lifted Virginia's mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents, except in certain circumstances.
“There are no limits on capacity or distancing in Virginia's restaurants, businesses, offices or other venues,” Northam said during the appearance at Sportrock. "We are closer to a more normal life than we have been in the past 14 months."
During brief remarks before a group of students and teachers at the gym, Biden noted that Virginia has one of the highest rates of vaccinations among all states in the country and told Northam: “You’re one of the best governors in the country in taking this on.”
As the state fully reopens, its numbers of new COVID-19 cases continue to decline, and nearly two-thirds of all adults have now received at least one dose of a vaccine.
In Northern Virginia, the seven-day average number of new daily cases is just 58.7, the lowest since March 30, 2020, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Only twice in the past two weeks has the region reported more than 100 cases on a single day, and on Monday the number of cases actually was reduced by three.
Statewide, the seven-day average of new cases stands at 361.6 as of Friday, up just slightly from Thursday's 360.4, which was the lowest level since April 10, 2020. Cases statewide are down 18% in the past week and 66% in the past month. Virginia reported just 76 new cases on Monday, the fewest in a single day since March 26, 2020, although an unusually high number were reported Tuesday, indicating a possible delay in reporting cases Monday.
Hospitalizations for treatment of COVID-19 have also hit new lows this week, both statewide and in Northern Virginia, since the data were first reported in early April 2020 by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
On Monday, a low of 503 patients were being treated statewide -- with just 100 in Northern Virginia hospitals. As of Friday, 514 patients were in hospitals statewide for coronavirus and 128 in Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia's hospitalizations peaked at 818 on April 30, 2020, while state hospitalizations peaked at over 3,200 in mid-January.
Also on Friday, the number of patients being treated in intensive-care units (131) and on ventilators (78) both hit new lows.
Separately, the hospital association this week stopped providing updates on the number of COVID-19 patients at Virginia's nursing homes. That number was over 2,220 during the worst of the pandemic in January before dropping sharply as residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities were vaccinated. It has been fewer than 100 since late April.
Seven-day average test positivity rate by health district (May 28, 2021)
|Alexandria||40.1% / April 23||2.1% / May 19||2.3%||Stable|
|Arlington||42.8% / April 20||0.5% / May 27 & 28||0.5%||Stable|
|Fairfax||38.6% / April 22||1.2% / May 28||1.2%||Down|
|Loudoun||27.9% / April 28||1.9% / May 26 & 28||1.9%||Stable|
|Prince William||36.7% / April 18||2.7% / May 21 & 22||3.4%||Up|
|Rappahannock||19.2% / Jan. 7||3.5% / July 3 (2020)||4.4%||Down|
|Statewide||20.6% / April 22||2.6% / May 28||2.6%||Down|
As the number of cases has come down, so have test positivity rates. Virginia hit a new seven-day average low of 2.6% on Friday, and every health district in Northern Virginia except Prince William has an even lower rate, with Arlington's at just 0.5%. Public health experts generally believe if the rate is below 5% then the spread of the virus is under control.
In Northern Virginia, the number of patients hospitalized as of Friday was 133, up slightly from 125 -- the lowest ever -- a week earlier. That's still well below the region's peak of 818 on April 30, 2020.
The health department reported 82 new deaths statewide from COVID-19 this week, with 17 of those in Northern Virginia: 15 in Fairfax County, which has reported the most deaths of any locality in the state, two in Alexandria and one in Loudoun County. The number of deaths in Prince William County was reduced by one this week.
Northern Virginia data by locality (May 28, 2021)
|OTHER AREA JURISDICTIONS|
According to the Virginia Department of Health's vaccine dashboard, 66.4% of Virginians aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 54.9% are fully vaccinated. Biden has set a goal of 70% of adults to be vaccinated by July 4.
The pace of vaccinations has remained fairly steady over the past three to four weeks, with a current seven-day average of 46,400 doses per day statewide.
LATEST COVID-19 DATA
New Cases/Deaths (Friday)
Northern Virginia: 65 new cases, 0 new deaths.
Statewide: 404 new cases, 8 new deaths.
Statewide Testing: 14,747 PCR diagnostic test results.
Northern Virginia: 183,921 cases, 2,351 deaths
Statewide: 674,843 cases, 11,156 deaths
Statewide Testing: 7.41 million PCR diagnostic tests (9.78 million when including antibody and antigen tests)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) cases: 71 (including 14 in Fairfax, 10 in Prince William, two in Loudoun and Alexandria and one in Arlington). One new case reported in Fairfax this week.
*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: 514 (same as the previous day)
Peak Hospitalizations: 3,209 reached Jan. 13
Patients in ICU: 131 (down from 142 the previous day)
Patients Discharged: 55,973
*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 will continue to provide regular COVID-19 updates every Friday. For daily reports, visit the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard.