COVID-19 Update: All Trends Positive

Over the last few days I almost forgot we’re in the middle of a COVID-19 epidemic. Maybe that’s because thousands of people have been marching down the streets of Richmond and other Virginia cities in defiance of Governor Ralph Northam’s prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people. But I will give the protesters credit. Many of them — and I’m not just talking about the Antifa wannabes — were wearing masks.

As it turns out, no epidemiological harm is likely to come from the mass gatherings. The spread of COVID-19 is on the downward slide, at least for now.

As can be seen in John Butcher’s chart above, the number of COVID-19 patients treated in Virginia hospitals is the lowest it’s been since late April. Likewise, as can be seen in the graph below, COVID-19-related deaths have declined markedly as well.

The count of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases is down from its high, though less noticeably so. However, that trend-line reflects the higher incidence of testing rather than the actual prevalence of the disease.

Now, if Wise King Ralph would just allow Virginians to attend outdoor funeral services (see Kerry Dougherty’s latest column), we’d be making real progress.


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4 responses to “COVID-19 Update: All Trends Positive”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    It’s hard to reconcile some of this given the following in Fredericksburg:

    ” Four more COVID-19 outbreaks reported in Fredericksburg area health district

    The Rappahannock Area Health District on Wednesday reported four new outbreaks of COVID-19, the most for any one day, so far.

    Three occurred at workplaces—a restaurant, construction workplace and retail store—where four to six people at each location tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The fourth was at a long-term care facility where one resident and staff member had confirmed cases, according to Allison Balmes–John, spokesperson for the local health district.

    The new incidents bring to 12 the number of outbreaks in the local health district, which includes Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford. The Virginia Department of Health defines an outbreak as two or more cases involving the same person, place or time.

    The Chick-fil-A in Central Park has been closed since Friday evening “to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” according to signs posted at the popular restaurant. Last week, its corporate office confirmed that one employee tested positive and that deep cleaning had taken place. But other businesses that have brought in companies to sanitize facilities shut down only for a day or a portion of it, not for several days on end.

    After the closure, the local Chick-Fil-A asked that questions related to COVID-19 cases be directed to a public relations hotline. No one there responded to a reporter’s inquiries on Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, at least seven contractors working at the University of Mary Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, said Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for university relations. The construction workers, who are not UMW employees, quarantined themselves, she said, adding there have been no outbreaks of the virus on campus.

    The four new outbreaks are not related to each other, Balmes–John said. Cases at several locations were first reported last week or over the weekend, but weren’t confirmed as outbreaks until Tuesday, she said.

    Outbreaks don’t “magically” show up on the state website, Balmes–John said, until workers at the local health district connect the dots and determine the links. Staff members investigate those who gave gotten sick—and the people they’ve been in contact with—then look for links to others with the virus, Balmes–John said. Once an outbreak is noted, it’s given an identification number by the state and appears on the state’s daily report.

    The process of determining outbreaks can be challenging, especially if a business employs people from various health districts, she said. That’s highly possible in the Fredericksburg area, where workers commute from the Northern Neck to the east as well as Culpeper and Orange counties to the west. In addition, some scientists and engineers at the Navy base in Dahlgren live as far away as Richmond or over the Potomac River in Maryland—all areas served by different health districts.

    One common denominator in the outbreaks may be Virginia’s first phase of reopening, Balmes–John said. Almost three weeks ago, many nonessential businesses opened their doors again, and “people are spending more time around others than they were in April or early May,” when they were home, she said. “It makes sense that as we see people return to work, we may see more outbreaks in places of employment.”

    It also takes several weeks from the time a person has been infected for the case to be counted by the state, officials at Mary Washington Healthcare said during a town hall last week.

    The earliest that people report symptoms is about five days after being exposed to a sick person, said Dr. Christopher Newman, MWHC’s chief medical director. For most people, it’s more like 8 to 14 days after exposure, he said.

    “Then, somebody’s usually sick for a couple days before they seek care, and then the test results can take several days to come back,” he said.

    He and Dr. Michael McDermott, the health care system’s CEO, stressed that the more serious indicator of virus’ spread is the rate of hospitalizations and deaths. Between May 15 and June 3, the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in the area’s three hospitals ranged from a low of 26 to a high of 38, according to local health district reports.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Please, Larry. Be my guest. Stay in your basement, cowering and avoiding dangerous Chick-fil-A sandwiches. I’m ready to go into a restaurant and sit. I’ve been in and out of stores all along. Not yet ready to get on a plane to go see the Texas grandchild. But I’m getting there. (Of course now the heat will kill me….)

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Oh I’m out and about and sometimes without a mask… and we have OTHER chick-fil-As still open but the one that closed remains so.

        So.. is that a corporate decision or is VDH doing it?

        ready for a sit-down restaurant! WOWSER! 😉

        Here’s what I think. If we get a ramp up on the virus again – all you brave chickees are headed back to the henhouse! 😉

        1. Steve Haner Avatar
          Steve Haner

          This all got going 12 weeks ago today, tomorrow….and long before the government ordered anything, people were already staying home. Give me the freedom to choose. We’ve been stashing some of the things we would need it, a “COVID closet.” 🙂

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