COVID-19 Update: Don’t Panic!!

Graph source: John Butcher, based on Virginia Department of Health data

The number of COVID-19 confirmed new cases and hospitalizations spiked higher yesterday, based on the latest Virginia Department of Health data. New cases marked a record for Virginia at 601, while one-day hospitalizations also hit a high. But these numbers are volatile, often due to reporting delays, and yesterday’s jump was not sufficient to change the conclusion, as shown in John Butcher’s graph above, that Virginia is at or near the peak spread of the virus under the current social-distancing regime. 

In the key measure I look at to gauge the strain on the health care system, 107 COVID-19 patients were admitted to Virginia hospitals, while 159 were discharged.

A parallel data set from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association showed little day-to-day difference in hospital utilization. The number of confirmed COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized increased modestly, from 800 to 809  the day before, while the number in ICUs  fell 27 to 400, and the number of ventilators in use declined from 238 to 224.

Here is our daily data digest:

COVID-19 spread

Total tests: 49,997, up 3,553
Total confirmed cases: 7,491, up 602 from the previous day
% tests positive: 16.9% yesterday
Total hospitalizations: 1,221, up 107 from the previous day
Total deaths: 231, up 23
Total hospital discharges: 1,110, up 159

Hospital capacity

Available beds: 5,587, up 44
Currently hospitalized for COVID-19: 
809, up nine
ICUs in use:
400, down 27
Ventilators in use: 224, down 14


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27 responses to “COVID-19 Update: Don’t Panic!!”

  1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Don’t be lulled either

    BTW, according to a doctor, SOAP* kills a virus faster than alcohol or bleach. Viruses are RNA/DNA in a greaseball. Soap destroys the grease.

    * do not use internally.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      My daughter the doctor told me that about soap long ago. It always amuses me to see the empty shelves in the grocery store where the hand sanitizer used to be, while the hand soap shelves are full.

      1. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Yep, seen that too!

        1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
          Reed Fawell 3rd

          Reminds me of fact that walking is world best exercise for us, no matter our age. Water too is healthiest more beneficial drink. Meanwhile our contrivances overwhelm us.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    I’d be curious to hear from NN. Is it possible to have a “flattened” histogram where the peak is really a plateau that extends for some time – that basically shows that the peak has been affected by social distancing – but no more gains are possible for the current level of social distancing… and it goes on with some level of continuing infections … as time goes by…

    did that question make any sense?

    1. ksmith8953 Avatar

      Yes it does make sense!!! See my comment below.

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Sure, it’s called “Uniform Distribution”, like the histogram for a fair die. An experiment should produce a roughly equal number of the possible events. The histogram would be very flat.

  3. ksmith8953 Avatar

    The line around SAM’s club this morning went out the door, around the side of the store and out again, over the parking lot. People need to stay out and not give in to the urges to get out. IF WE CONTINUE TO STAY PUT AND PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING, THEN THE DATA SHOWN IS CORRECT. If we change our habits, it is not correct. Given the line this morning, those stimulus checks may be our worst enemy.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I’ve been sort of experimenting with Walmart Pickup as an alternative to actually going into the store.

      It works where I live – I asked the fella who brought out my order how it was going and he said “good” and that they were ramping up big time.

      I also went into the store itself to see how that was working.

      Most folks are wearing masks – some employees, not all. They have blocked off the entrance so that it is one-way on each side. They have not gone to
      one-way aisles. They have had sporadically TP, paper towels, and bleach – none today – and no isopropyl alcohol. Meat is available but not abundant. Produce is abundant. There is plenty of food but some items not available.

      I plan to continue to use the pickup service and limit physical visits to the grocery for some items not available on pickup but might be in the store.

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Looked back at the similar report from seven days ago. Deaths were then 63, now 231. Still looks exponential to me. Deaths are the only statistic reported by the state I trust at all, and even then there can be a day or two lag. And the deaths now represent infections contracted one or two weeks ago. But nope, not relaxing….

    I trust the VHHA numbers, but even there I’m not sure if that is just hospitals, or hospitals, nursing homes and rehab centers. They have bed, ventilators, etc. And then how about the military base facilities? Kenner at Ft. Lee, Portsmouth Naval. We have no idea how many cases there really are, none whatsoever.

    1. John Butcher responds as follows: “Deaths are, of course, a lagging indicator. Even so, and even with the recent increases, they are not increasing exponentially.

      This graph is on a logarithmic scale. An exponential increase would be a straight line. All three key metrics — confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths — are bending.

      1. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Almost exponentially makes me feel so much better.

      2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        John Butcher holds steady, putting it on line. If he (and Jim) are right, it will be a major, indeed great, achievement.

    2. djrippert Avatar

      Sadly, deaths are the only statistic on which one can rely. They are also a lagging indicator. While the lack of accurate and timely data is annoying now it will become a bigger problem as the economy reopens. No reasonable concept of reopening the economy will require that everybody must go back to their pre-COVID-19 habits and activities. The economy will reopen in stages and people will have to decide what level of risk they are willing to accept. Understanding that risk will largely be a function of having access to timely and accurate data. The Northam Administration must start getting its act together with regard to collecting and publishing accurate and timely data.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        Now, even deaths statistics are suspect in some places, big unexpected bumps of way earlier but unreported deaths in New York, China, Italy, over past 48 hours, typically deaths occurring at home, and even over-counting too. Perhaps special circumstances at play in these cases, but sounds like a statistical nightmare we are only beginning to understand in many places, given all the complexities even in causes of death.

  5. T. Boyd Avatar

    I think that is misleading!!! Looking at “new cases” is not a very good indicator when the actual reported cases and the deaths still fit an exponential or power series curve:

    1. T. Boyd, if you have a particular graph you’d like to share, please send it to me and I’ll post it in these comments. Jim

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Not to mention the noise.

  6. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Problem is, far more authoritative modelers come to wildly different conclusions ranging from peak in Virginia in late April, late May, mid June, and August. Take your pick. One’s likely as reliable and unreliable as another. But as of now it is highly doubtful, indeed quite improbable, “that Virginia is at or near the peak spread of the virus under the current social-distancing regime.”

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    The infections if not affected by other things like social distancing would be represented as a conventional histogram.

    When other things influence the infection – they change the shape of the histogram.

    My understanding was that the original models presumed a 50% compliance factor for social distancing. I don’t know what that number is now but what I REALLY don’t know is if we continue at some particular level – if the historgram gets it’s peak flattened… and we go along at some standard rate for awhile until enough people have been infected and then it subsides.

    We may well find out if different states change social distancing rules but understanding that would get back to knowing what percentage of social distancing is being practiced.

    There are others commenting here that know more about this and I encorage them to share their knowledge… and views.

  8. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The number of positive cases at DOC continues to increase. Today’s report shows a total of 47 positives, with 6 of those in a hospital. That is only one more than yesterday’s report. However, yesterday’s report showed a cumulative of 52 positives, including active, recovered, released from custody, and deaths (1). Today’s cumulative total is 62, ten more than yesterday’s. That means 10 have moved to recovered status, with 11 new cases taking their place as active cases. I had not checked it recently, but the number of positive cases at Sussex II has increased significantly, to 13 from about 4 the last time I noticed. At least, no additional facilities beyond the 5 from yesterday have reported positive cases.

  9. S. E. Warwick Avatar
    S. E. Warwick

    Still very little information about recoveries.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Plus “recoveries’ from serious bouts of this illness can and often does lead to many complex residual Morbidities, long and short term, ranging all over the map, such as neurological, organs, heart, senses. Some patients live but never fully recover.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      That is going to be tough to get because a lot of people with the disease don’t have to go to the hospital, but recover at home. Del. McQuinn of Richmond is one example. She was known to the health department, because she was tested, but, whether the health department keeps statistics on those who test positive but don’t go to the hospital, I don’t know. And there are those who got sick, figured they had the disease, but were not sick enough to go to a hospital, and just stayed home without getting tested.—richmond-legislator-recounts-family-battle-with/article_27ebe2fc-1949-5f81-bd0c-ef93b6b3b329.html

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    is there such a thing as a metric called ” total number of active infections”?

  11. Dick, VDH is showing 11 outbreaks in correctional facilities and 116 cases. They also have 0 deaths, but those reports can lag with VDH.

    The VDH and DOC locations don’t match up.
    DOC didn’t list any in Fairfax, Thomas Jefferson, Piedmont and Portsmouth Health Districts that VDH shows as having correctional facility outbreaks. Is that because Fairfax County Jail and Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail aren’t under DOC? (I couldn’t identify what facilities were in the other two districts.)

    DOC lists corr. facilities with cases in Southside H.D. & Central Shenandoah H.D. that VDH does not. And neither VDH nor DOC listed any in Chesapeake H.D. and Norfolk H.D. that were in 3/30 and 4/8 news reports.

    So the net result is cases in 4 Health Districts not shown by VDH. Seems both DOC and VDH would want to track these high risk populations more carefully.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      DOC releases, on its website, a report of COVID-19 positive cases that is updated daily.

      The VDH data probably includes cases in jails. DOC is not responsible for operating jails; sheriffs and regional jail administrators hold that responsibility. Therefore, the DOC data does not include jails.

      None of the DOC cases are in facilities located in the Fairfax, Piedmont, Thomas Jefferson, or Portsmouth health districts.

      The DOC facilities with offenders testing positive are located in the following health districts: Chickahominy (Goochland), Three Rivers (Westmoreland County), Chesterfield, Crater (Sussex County), and Central Shenandoah (Harrisonburg).

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