A Little Hope Goes a Long Way

by Carol J. Bova

The University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute’s COVID-19 Model Weekly Update for August 28 shows the R-naught reproduction rate was below 1.0 as of August 15 in every health region but the Northern one, and that number was barely over 1 at 1.018. A rate below 1.0 suggests that the viral spread is slowing.

UVA is predicting a 10-20% increase in transmission beginning September 8th based on schools reopening and the Labor Day holiday. Seasonal weather may play a role, but no one knows for sure what that might be, according to the report.

The number of COVID-19 cases the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reports isn’t a reliable indicator of what’s happening with the pandemic in Virginia. The statistics are influenced by many factors, such as where the tests are being done, who is going for testing, and how many tests are done. Hospitalizations are a better reflection of the virus’ spread.

The daily and weekly variations in hospitalizations make it difficult to see what’s happening over a longer period. But adding a trendline on the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) report of hospitalizations confirms that the spread is slowing.