COVID-19 Update: Are We Leveling Off?

The latest data from the Virginia Department of Health, reported this morning, is consistent with the notion that the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Virginia is nearing a peak. The graph above, produced by John Butcher, does a much better job of showing the trend than any of the graphics I’ve been creating. So, as much as I love rendering infographics with kittens, puppies and babies in them, I will henceforward publish John’s graph atop this daily update.

It’s too early to say that the number of COVID-19 infections is leveling out, but it seems pretty clear that the rate of increase is no longer exponential. My main reservation is the quality of data. Results for only 1,362 tests were reported from yesterday. Why so few? That’s down from more than 2,000 tests daily last week. Is Virginia’s health system running fewer tests as time goes by? Or does this puny number reflect delays in the collection and reporting of the numbers?

Whatever the case, here is today’s roundup of the disease spread and hospital capacity from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association COVID-19 dashboards.

COVID-19 spread

Total tests: 42,763, up 1,362
Total confirmed cases: 6,171, up 424 from the previous day
% tests positive: 31.1% yesterday
Total hospitalizations: 978, up 75 from the previous day
Total deaths: 154, up six
Total hospital discharges: 721, up 264

Hospital capacity

Available beds: 5,991, up 21
Currently hospitalized: 
813, up 48
ICUs in use:
422, down six
Ventilators in use: 276, down 26

Assuming the current trends hold true, Virginia hospitals won’t come close to maxxing out their capacity for beds, ICUs or ventilators. The primary bottleneck remains the availability of testing kits and personal protective equipment.


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13 responses to “COVID-19 Update: Are We Leveling Off?”

  1. S. E. Warwick Avatar
    S. E. Warwick

    The VDH numbers are somewhat confusing. For instance, today’s “count” indicates that there are 39 people in Goochland who tested positive. The Department of Corrections Covid 19 page reports that, as of 5 p.m. yesterday, there were 21 offenders who tested positive, 3 hospitalizations (not sure if the 3 are included in the 21) and 21 staff, which includes employees and contractors, testing positive. Staff could live anywhere. Even if none of the staff testing positive are Goochland residents, more than half of cases in Goochland are in one place. Goochland cases are reported through the Chickahominy Health District, which reports 15 hospitalizations, but no further details.
    It would make sense to deploy the rapid results testing equipment to institutional hotspots to get a handle on the magnitude of infection and take action to halt the spread.
    The absence of statistics on the number of recoveries is puzzling. Other than some feel good reports on local TV news, there is no mention of how many people were stricken and recovered.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      We probably will never know how many were stricken and recovered. Early in the outbreak, people who were showing symptoms were not tested if their conditions were not serious enough to be admitted to a hospital.

    2. The VHHA has begun publishing statistics on recoveries (those admitted into hospitals for COVID-19 and discharged) — 721 so far. And that’s only a fraction of those who contracted the disease, never entered a hospital, and recovered.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        By and large, State of Virginia to date has allowed the virus to run free and unopposed by lack of testing and regime of secrecy, as if Virginia left open Pandora’s box hidden behind a curtain. This dereliction of duty will levy a long term heavy price on Virginians.

  2. djrippert Avatar

    We can only know if we’re leveling off by the death count. We are testing too few cases to put any stock in “confirmed new wuflu cases in Virginia”. Amazingly we only conducted 1,362 tests yesterday. We’re #48 out of the 50 states in per capita testing and making no progress toward improvement. I’m sure that mealy mouthed Democrat Ralph Northam will have some excuse about the data or Orangeman or the phase of the moon when it comes to our incompetence in testing. Our only real hope at this point is that we continue to get lucky and the spread from NYC stops somewhere between Philadelphia and DC.

  3. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    John Butcher’s graph seems to be in sharp contrast to the model that UVa researchers have developed. That shows the peak of new COVID-19 cases in Virginia taking place in mid-August. This is the first model that is based on detailed Virginia data and developed by a state institution.

    The new of cases in the state’s prisons continues to grow. I did not check yesterday’s report, but today’s shows a total of 44 positive cases. On Friday, the total number was 26. There are not 32 staff reported positive, compared to 25 on Friday. The two women’s facilities, Unit 13 in Chesterfield and VCCW in Goochland, account for 36 of the total 44. The two items of good news are: 1. the outbreak is still confined to four institutions and 2 the number of hospitalized inmates declined from 6 on Friday to 5 on Monday.
    I am assuming that this total number of positives includes any offenders who may have been released. Here is the story of one who came down with COVID-19 shortly before her sentence was completed and of her ordeal in the prison and her release to her home in Halifax County.

    1. That is important development.
      Maybe we need separate article on UVa model.
      If we start going with this model, it has implication that many summer activities will have to be cancelled or modified, including vacation plans. I had one September activity cancelled yesterday, it was the NoVA Senior Olympics, which is an informal but well-participated sports/game competition up here. They cited possible Fall resurgence of COVID.

    2. The UVa model seems at little at odds with CHIME (UPenn) and Johns Hopkins advice to Maryland, by the way.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    There are several models – but the focus on the down-slope and extrapolating it to where it is zero is driving some of the sentiment that it’s time for the social distancing to be reduced or stopped and we can re-start the economy.

    Folks want to believe and so they do. Others are not, they know the realities.

  5. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

    Is anyone else uncomfortable calling this the WuFlu?

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Yes, but not these guys. It’s the dogs whistling past the graveyard.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      yeah… it seems to come with the territory with Conservatives… they gotta get their backhanded ethnic insults in…

  6. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Okay, this is beginning to intrigue me. What function are youse guys assuming for your curve-fitting? You mentioned exponential earlier, but this appears as though Mr. Butcher is assuming a Gaussian.

    How about a little on assumptions and method?

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