COVID-1 Update: Same Old, Same Old

Not much new to report on the COVID-19 data front, mainly because the Virginia Department of Health, citing “a technical error,” hasn’t updated its dashboard since May 5. That leaves us only the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association dashboard to scour for new trends. The main trend worth noting from the last few days is that the number of COVID-19 patients in Virginia hospitals has been trending slightly upward (see chart above) and the number of available beds has been trending down. Available beds yesterday dipped to 4,683, the lowest number since the VHHA began publishing the statistic in mid-April.

However, there are no indications that hospitals are suffering from an overload of COVID-19 patients. The number in ICU beds and on ventilators remains near their lows. And no hospitals are reporting shortages of personal protective equipment.

But this is old news and, frankly, as much as I would like to engage readers with something exciting to say, not terribly interesting. So, I’ll quit while I still have your attention.

Update: The VDH numbers are in. Better late than never. The department reports 1,314 new  cases over the past two days, an average of 657 per day, which is significantly lower than previous days. On the other hand, the number of new tests logged by VDH also declined — only 8,650 over two days, an average of 4,325 per day, backsliding from the progress previously made toward Governor Ralph Northam’s goal of 10,000 per day.


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39 responses to “COVID-1 Update: Same Old, Same Old

  1. Well, available beds are down because they’ve resumed non-emergency surgeries, etc. To be expected. But the number of beds in use by COVID patients is ticking up (14% in five days), probably reflecting the growing activity we’ve all seen out and about as the fear fades and the cabin fever becomes overwhelming.

  2. Re: One-Size Fits All (simply Doesn’t Work)
    From Chairman McKay yesterday:
    …”Today, in response to a letter from Loudoun County Chair Randall, Prince William County Chair Wheeler, and myself, Governor Northam announced his intention to coordinate any future re-openings with Northern Virginia localities. This is important, because we know a one-size-fits-all approach in the Commonwealth simply doesn’t work.”

    Ffx system is temporarily down I cannot comment on case load here. Interesting that Gov Cuomo is saying current cases are mostly people who have stayed isolated. Yikes! if true.

    • PS- Unfounded rumor one (as yet unproven) hypothesis is children’s MMR vaccine, some wondering if that could account for COVID being easy on the spring chickens among us.

      • Interesting theory. Will drive the anti-vax idiots wild. OTOH, very strong evidence of correlation with Vitamin D deficiency and severe outcomes. So that’s one supplement we all need to be taking (with plenty of time in the sun.)

        • Let me check my daily Centrum Silver for Men 50+ I get 1000 IU D3 (25 mcg) every day. Is that good? 125% of daily minimum recommended

          • Steve Haner

            Bottom line is you want to be above the recommended minimum in your bloodstream (25 mcg?) and to get there might means no supplements at all or 4,000 IU or some other number. Not giving medical advice, not me. 🙂

          • Oh I see another toilet paper conundrum… 😉

          • Dick Hall-Sizemore

            No need to take supplements. If you get outside in the sun in midday for 15-30 minutes several times a week, you will get all the Vitamin D you need.

          • A simple blood test will determine if you are getting enough Vitamin D. Many older people (not saying you are one, TBill!) can’t make enough to supply their needs. I’ve had to take prescribed mega-doses for years to maintain a normal level.

            Be interesting if doctors find a link between nursing home virus impacts and low Vit. D.

            “The role of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with aging has not been well studied. Traditionally, the role of vitamin D focused on the maintenance of skeletal health in the older adult. With the discovery of vitamin D receptors in the nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, the role of vitamin D and its impact on these systems has become an important area of research. Older adults are at risk for lower levels of vitamin D as a result of decreased cutaneous synthesis and dietary intake of vitamin D. Epidemiologic evidence indicates an association between low levels of vitamin D and diseases associated with aging such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.”

            “Many experts suggest that ≥1000–2000 IU [25–50μg] of vitamin D daily is necessary for older people, especially when independence is lost, or hypovitaminosis D could add to the clinical problem[s]. Much higher doses than these are needed for treatment of established deficiency or insufficiency.”

  3. If you subtract the number of deaths resulting from outbreaks, today’s VDH report indicates that of the 56 new deaths, 47 are attributed to outbreaks. That means the increase in other deaths is 9 for the entire state. Total deaths, minus the grim statistics from outbreaks, is 247. Since March, for the entire state.

    • There’s that word again: “outbreaks” in Virginia. Do we have any details on where these are? Last week, I quoted Ffx news report, Ffx had about 30 of 100 Virginia outbreaks…but as far as I know, little public info on where the outbreaks are. I don’t think I could name one Ffx outbreak, but the 5-star nursing home near me had a few cases we heard.

      • here’s one: ” Local outbreak site has ‘urgent need’ for staff, equipment”

        There’s an “urgent need” for additional staff and personal protective equipment at Heritage Hall nursing home in King George County, the site of the first—and so far, only—outbreak of COVID-19 cases in a local long-term care facility.

        Heritage Hall had asked the local health district to help with its manpower shortage, but as Stern reported to county supervisors in both King George and Stafford on Tuesday, the health department is facing its own staffing issues after a state-ordered hiring freeze in the midst of the pandemic.

        On Monday, Heritage Hall reported an outbreak involving two residents and two staff members who tested positive for COVID-19. Both residents remain hospitalized, and the staff members are quarantined at home. The facility agreed to test all residents and workers for the novel coronavirus, and as of Tuesday, 17 tests had come back negative.

        King George has requested the Virginia National Guard test everyone in the building, which has 130 beds and more than 100 workers. The five teams of soldiers doing the tests around the state are pretty busy “because there are lots of requests out there,” Stern said. “But I think we’re already toward the top of the list.”

        This is about a week after an Aldi’s grocery had 7 employees that were infected… and had to close (then reopen with a new staff).

  4. Has no one seen this: ” Northam says Virginia localities can set stricter restrictions once state begins phased reopening”

    Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that the guidelines for a phased reopening of the state will serve as a “floor” for localities — meaning they can impose stricter restrictions — after rejecting a regional approach two days earlier.

    He said he spoke to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, and had conversations with local leaders in Northern Virginia, where the state has reported the largest number of outbreaks. Fairfax County alone is home to nearly 1 in 4 COVID-19 cases in Virginia.

    “We realized that the greater Washington area is an area we need to pay particular attention to,” Northam said.

    The Richmond metro area and the Eastern Shore have also seen wider spread of COVID-19 compared with the rest of the state. What kinds of restrictions different localities might want to keep, and how the state will handle those requests, remains unclear.

    “We are still a week and a half away, but as we get closer, if they have concerns and want to raise that floor, we will work with them on that,” Northam said.

    Northam said he will retain the final say on regional or local restrictions.

    Northam said Monday that he had declined a regional approach to lifting restrictions, citing the need for “unity” in Virginia.

    “When we made the decision to close, to have a stay-at-home order, we did this as a commonwealth,” Northam said. “When we reopen to go into Phase One, I want to do that as a commonwealth.”

    Asked about the difference between what Northam said Monday and Wednesday, Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said: “The governor made it clear he wants the entire state to meet certain metrics before we move forward. That hasn’t changed.

    “What he is saying with the floor and ceiling metaphor is that no locality can impose looser restrictions than the Phase One standard, once we meet the metrics statewide. Areas with higher cases or particular hot spots would be able to impose additional restrictions.”

    Phase One of the state’s reopening, which could last “two to four weeks, or longer,” according to the Northam administration, will see recreational and grooming businesses reopen with some restrictions. That includes restaurants, gyms, hair salons, movie theaters and more.

    Northam said the state will swap the current stay-at-home order for a more subdued message: “safer at home.”

    At the same time, the state will limit social gatherings to 10 or fewer people. Social distancing will still be encouraged, as well as teleworking for nonessential employees. The state also will still recommend the use of masks in public.

    Northam also said Wednesday that he is still planning to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions next week, and said businesses and the general public would see more details about how restrictions would be adjusted this coming Friday.

    • Yes, Larry, we saw he changed his mind in record time, and will allow variation around the state after all. Thanks for reprinting the daily paper for us all…..Hilarious that he allows for local decisions ONLY if MORE restrictive than he decides.

      • Crickets here in BR,

        WHERE are the “anti” boo birds? Geeze.. Where is Bacon or Kerry and Bader to trumpet the latest “outrage”! (notice I did not include Steve.. I thought he had stopped blogging!)… 😉

        This IS a SIGNIFICANT change and it appears Maryland is also doing a version of it.

        Isn’t this worth it’s own blog post for discussion?

        Oh wait… it kinda takes the air of the King Ralph haters?

        I wonder what the next “outrage” of the day will be?

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          I have a King Ralph outrage to report. He needs to wear a neck tie badly. Mr. Northam looks silly without a neck tie. I just don’t buy into the trousers, collared shirt, coat, but no neck tie. I have a hard time taking political figures seriously without a tie on. I think it would improve his image to completely dress the part of governor. Any chance Mrs. Northam can be contacted for help with this?

  5. Gov Hogan announced Phase I of Maryland’s reopening yesterday afternoon. The reopening was effective at 7:00 am this morning. Some of what is being reopened in Maryland was never officially closed in Virginia – example: golf courses. Other things like beaches may be opened in Maryland while closed in Virginia. The announcement allows localities to overrule the state decision to reopen. For example, my understanding is that the question of whether to reopen beaches in Ocean City is now a matter for Ocean City to decide.

    It sounds like King Ralph has gotten smart and is copying the better run states that surround Virginia. Speaking of that, Kentucky is the last state that borders Virginia to reopen. Kentucky will start reopening on May 11. For some period of time Virginia will be an island of delay. What’s new?

    Northern Virginia jurisdictions would be well advised to carefully consider whether they want to fully embrace the re-opening options being allowed the “little people” by King Ralph. The spread of the disease north and south from New York City has been pretty easy to watch. The worst of the outbreak seems to move along the high population corridor roughly defined by I95. Has NoVa peaked or is the spread south only now fully making its force felt in Northern Virginia? Fortunately for Northern Virginians decisions regarding whether to reopen our area will be made by locally elected officials rather than The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond.

  6. Regarding Gov. Cuomo’s statement:

    “If you notice, 18% of the people came from nursing homes, less than 1% came from jail or prison, 2% came from the homeless population, 2% from other congregate facilities, but 66% of the people were at home, which is shocking to us,” Cuomo said.

    “This is a surprise: Overwhelmingly, the people were at home,” he added. “We thought maybe they were taking public transportation, and we’ve taken special precautions on public transportation, but actually no, because these people were literally at home.”

    Cuomo said nearly 84% of the hospitalized cases were people who were not commuting to work through car services, personal cars, public transit or walking. He said a majority of those people were either retired or unemployed. Overall, some 73% of the admissions were people over age 51.

    He said the information shows that those who are hospitalized are predominantly from the downstate area in or around New York City, are not working or traveling and are not essential employees. He also said a majority of the cases in New York City are minorities, with nearly half being African American or Hispanic.

    Cuomo said state health officials had thought a high percentage of people who were hospitalized would be essential employees, like health-care workers or city staff, who are still going to work.

    “Much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself. Everything is closed down, government has done everything it could, society has done everything it could. Now it’s up to you,” Cuomo said.” See CNBC.

    Perhaps this is not so surprising when one considers that these people are bulk of our vulnerable people, and if they are isolated for long periods, they lose their immunity to many invisible things they otherwise encounter in real life. Hence after long periods of isolation they are hit extra hard with their first encounter again to those invisible things.

    Kids got to play in dirt to stay healthy and strong. So do dogs. When I first moved my Labs from DC to Tidewater Country on place a 30 second dash to river and marsh, those Labs suddenly became sick four ways to Sunday before several months passed, and all the necessary immunizes kicked in.

    We can run from life, but never hide.

    • I am (born there) from Buffalo and my wife is from NYC/LI but neither one of us knows where “downstate” NY is?

      I also quoted Cuomo comments in my comments above.

  7. The good news is that Food Lion had toilet paper on the shelves this morning.

  8. That’s good news indeed and especially so if one has a septic tank/drain field where you will ruin it to the tune of 10K or worse if you put stuff in the toilet that won’t break down in the septic tank.

    Even places with municipal sewer, I understand are having issues with stuff in the pipes and at the treatment plants.

    • You put lots of stuff in the toilet and down the drain that won’t break down in the septic tank.

      It ends up as a layer at the bottom of the tank which you have to get pumped out once in a while.

      I can’t think of anything one would be using in place of toilet paper that would do anything more than (1) clog a pipe or (2) require a pump-out sooner.

      • “flushable wipes” can and do clog both municiple sewage pipes AND drainfields.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Are old fashioned outhouses still legal? Like the one Uncle Charlie had behind Studley Store in Hanover?

          • this one?

            I dunno… VDH permits pump & haul… vault toilets… for some things… but plain old hole in the ground.. ?? We do ad hoc latrines when we canoe camp….

          • Dick Hall-Sizemore

            Outhouses are still allowed in limited circumstances. Existing ones have to be abandoned within one year in the case of availability of sanitary sewer.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            That is the one Mr. Larry. The outhouse had hole that was as big as a canyon to me when I was 5 or 6. Terrified of the creepy old outhouse. I think the new post office is on the spot now. Did you know that the 1980 Olympic Torch passed thru Studley, Va? I remember it. Biggest thing to happen to Studley since the airmail beacon.

        • It would have to be a pretty poorly designed septic system for a flushable wipe to get as far as the drainfield.

          In that case, you already had problems.. The flushable wipe just made them obvious.

        • My grandparents had an outhouse – back in Sparta, Va. I got a flintlock pistol for Christmas once and guess where it ended up.
          And yes.. it was retrieved but not without some trauma.

          It was a good 200 yards from the house and in the summer the path had tall grass on either side… and snakes…

          The spring which got used in the summer when the well ran low – was inside a fenced pasture which had some mules that took delight at scaring the bejesus out of small people….

          Uncle had a big wishbone net that he dropped in the creeks in the spring to get herring…. Herring and eggs for breakfast – year round…

          good times.. still remembered.

  9. The total number of positive cases in DOC rose a bit, 5, and the number in the hospital decreased by 2. I expect the total to increase by a relatively large amount soon. DOC is testing all inmates and staff at Buckingham Correctional Center. The results of some of those tests ordinarily would have already shown up in the reports, but the private lab analyzing the tests misplaced 300 of them. Therefore, DOC had to retest those inmates. Having to endure getting those swabs stuck up into one’s sinuses twice should count as cruel and unusual punishment.

    Here is the daily summary:

    Summary of COVID-19 Cases in Va. Dept. of Corrections
    As of 5:00 p.m., May 6

    Cumulative testing positive 580
    Total Deaths 3
    Active positive cases in facilities 471
    Number in hospital 9
    Recovered 97
    Staff currently tested positive 65

  10. Yak, yak, yak! Fake gnus.

  11. This is interesting: May 7 FLS – posted most of it … may not be
    of interest to everyone but it provides information about how VDH reports outbreaks.

    “Two residents and four staff members at a second long-term care facility in the Fredericksburg area have tested positive for COVID-19, but the facility isn’t being named because the owners don’t want it identified.

    The outbreak was reported Tuesday but no information was released Wednesday about it, nor were updated numbers of cases locally and statewide available because of problems with the Virginia Department of Health’s website.

    The Rappahannock Area Health District, which is monitoring COVID-19 cases in Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford, said Thursday the latest outbreak occurred in a “small, private residential-care setting.”

    “The organization has asked that additional information be kept confidential to protect patient privacy,” said Allison Balmes—John, spokesperson for the local health district. “Employees and families of residents have been notified, and proper infection control measures have been put in place.”

    Because of the way state officials, including Gov. Ralph Northam, have interpreted the Virginia code regarding health care, nursing homes and other facilities that don’t want to be named won’t be identified. Facilities are given the same consideration as individuals and aren’t named for reasons of privacy, according to the Northam administration’s interpretation of the code.

    That’s caused growing frustration among General Assembly members on both sides of the aisle, according to reports from Virginia Mercury, a nonprofit news organization that covers state government and policy. Some legislators have pushed for more transparency in reporting the growing number of outbreaks at long-term care facilities, especially as the death toll climbs.

    As of Thursday, almost 60 percent of deaths statewide—or 452 of the 769 COVID-19 fatalities in Virginia—occurred in long-term care facilities, according to the state website.

    The most recent outbreak in the Fredericksburg area is the third in the local health district, which monitors not just long-term care facilities but other places were people gather, including stores, jails, schools and churches. An outbreak happens when there are two positive cases connected to the same person, place or time, outside a household.

    Two outbreaks have occurred in long-term facilities in the local area and one in the Aldi store at Four Mile Fork in Spotsylvania County, as reported on April 30. The Free Lance–Star contacted Aldi’s corporate headquarters after getting numerous calls and emails from readers who’d heard about sickened workers at the store.

    Aldi confirmed the outbreak, the local health district named the store in its daily report and Spotsylvania put out a press release about it.

    When the first outbreak at a long-term care facility was reported Monday at Heritage Hall nursing home in King George County, the owner, American HealthCare, agreed to be identified.

    At the request of Balmes–John, a Heritage Hall spokesperson called The Free Lance–Star, and the local health district included information about Heritage Hall in its daily report.

    King George County also put out an alert about the outbreak. The next day, Annie Cupka, a member of the King George Board of Supervisors, reported to fellow members about Heritage Hall’s urgent need for personal protective gear, including masks, goggles, gowns and hand sanitizer. She had talked with Heritage Hall’s administrator, who said residents could place donated items on a table outside the facility.

    Just as public health officials aren’t required to identify facilities with outbreaks of COVID-19, “businesses are not always mandated to notify customers,” Balmes–John said.

    After the Aldi outbreak, The Free Lance–Star received a number of calls and emails about workers testing positive in other grocery stores or businesses, such as a child care center. Balmes–John said the recommendations for how businesses should notify customers about an employee testing positive “are handled on a case-by-case basis … depending on whether or not customers are considered ‘close contacts’ of a case, or are at higher risk of exposure.”

    She said it’s difficult to draw broad generalizations of workplaces because buildings and work environments are different.

    The local health district does contact an employer when a worker has tested positive, if the employee worked during his or her exposure period, which lasts from two days before symptoms started through the time symptoms were obvious. Health officials and employers determine who needs to be quarantined and how to do a deep cleaning of the space.

    For health care workers, the employer is asked to reach out to all patients who had contact with those who tested positive, Balmes–John said.”

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