COVID-19 Update: Virginia Has Reached Exponential Growth

It looks like COVID-19 in Virginia is going exponential. Today’s Virginia Department of Health update of coronavirus statistics indicates that another 38 cases were confirmed yesterday, bringing the total to 152. The number of hospitalizations increased from 20 to 25. The previous one-day increase (yesterday) was only 20 cases.

To some, those might seem like small numbers. But appearances are deceiving. At the current rate of increase — doubling within the past three days — the number of confirmed cases could reach around 156,000 within a month (30 days). If the spread accelerates — say, doubling every two days — the case count would surpass five million! The latter case seems highly implausible for a variety of reasons. But even 156,000 cases would inundate hospitals and medical staff.

So far it appears than about one COVID-19 case in 10 has resulted in hospitalization. The doubling-every-three-days scenario implies that Virginia hospitals would have to cope with 15,000 to 16,000 patients, mostly toward the tail end of the 30-day period.

By my back-of-the-envelope guesstimate, Virginia hospitals should be able to handle 2,000 to 3,000 COVID-19 cases without extraordinary measures. Brace yourselves for a storm.

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26 responses to “COVID-19 Update: Virginia Has Reached Exponential Growth”

  1. sbostian Avatar

    How much of that “exponential growth” is due to increased testing? Also, are any physicians or hospitals in the Commonwealth planning to use hydroxycholorpuine as a treatment. Or are we planning to ignore promising alternatives to treat people and if treated early perhaps keep them out of hospital beds.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      Two great questions. The first can only be answered by Ralph Northam. Does anybody presenting with flu-like symptoms get tested in Virginia? Or, is there still a protocol in place where many who present are not tested because they fail to meet CDC criteria? The second question is still being debated by the “experts” (although I think you are talking about Hydroxychloroquine). The Chinese found positive results in a small in vitro test. Some American researchers say more testing is required. This reminds me of the Tamiflu debate around H1N1 in 2009. One pack of “experts” claimed it was effective while another pack of “experts” disagreed. When I got the flu that year (maybe Swine Flu, maybe not) my doctor immediately prescribed Tamiflu. If I get COVID-19 you better believe I’ll be pressing for Hydroxychloroquine.

  2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    This flurry over these malaria drugs is based on ancedotal reports from France and China that they seem to work. No clinical trials at all. Now, lots of folks want to get prescriptions in advance, just in case. That behavior is creating a shortage of the drugs for people who have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, who depend on the those drugs.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      No doctor should write prescriptions in advance, just in case. However, if you test positive and you’re an adult – you should be able to get the drug with or without clinical trials. The side effects of Hydroxychloroquine are well understood and relatively minor.

      Meanwhile Israeli drug maker Teva will donate 10M doses to the US by March 31. You know Israel – that country liberals love to hate. Either somebody thinks this could help or there’s an impending malaria breakout about to happen.

      You can wait for the bureaucrats to perform their clinical trials over the next 6 – 12 months. I’ll take the malaria drug and see how it goes.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      My understanding is that these drugs can harm or kill some people and that’s why they are prescription drugs.

      Gotta ask yourself why are most prescription drugs – prescription drugs to start with?

      Now, there is a process to validate the efficacy and there’s always been frustration with it and more frustration with drugs that are KNOWN to harm certain kids of people but those who are already in serious straights want to take them anyhow… in fact some are predisposed to take drugs like laetrile.

      It’s hard to know what the right answer is and I’m in favor of the FDA going back and re-examining but that basic function they perform – needs to remain in my view.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        A trial of 24 people………

        I’d go along with a change.

        The FDA releases the drug but only for those willing to sign a liability waiver.

        If things go sideways, it’s all on you.

        Perhaps as a country, we ought to do this. People can make choices but no blaming the FDA or the manufacturer.

        1. Very good Twitter thread on the absurdity of this “magic potion” solution. Perhaps it could be effective. But when you look at the errors made in measuring the controls of that French study, that much-touted graph is basically useless:

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            yes. thanks.

            Keep in mind that many other countries have their version of the FDA and they also do trials and may well have varying standards.

            And I’m not at all opposed to using their trials and experience in making our own decisions. In fact, if some drug is approved for use in many other countries – certainly in a time like this we should go forward with it.

            I do point out that Doctors today in the USA, ARE allowed to prescribe prescription drugs “off label” and it IS done depending on the doctor the status of the patient and I know this personally. The doctor explicitly warned me that it was “off label” and I needed to make an informed decision.

            And right now, today, anyone who watches TV will easily see a plethora of FDA-approved drugs where they explicitly warn you in the commercial itself that there are side effects that include death.

            It’s not like the FDA keeps any/all drugs away from us.

            They DO “outlaw” some drugs like Laetrile, I’ll admit so there is a line somewhere.

            But all leaders no matter if their name begins with T or not – need to speak from an informed point of view, not voice their own ignorance and gin up others who also are ignorant or worse think of government conspiracies and the like.

            I’m biased against ANY leader who spouts ignorance in times like this. Guilty as charged.

  3. Fairfax Co. is 22 today vs. 16 yesterday.
    No further info.

  4. sbostian Avatar

    Not great news, but what is the Fairfax County Population? About 1.2 million? About .002% of the county’s population. Everything needs to be put into context.. Wonder haw many cases of flu in the county and how many deaths from flu.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      The challenge in Northern Virginia is the lack of hospital beds relative to the population. 22 cases of anything in Fairfax County are a statistical blip. However, if those cases follow the same curve as is being seen in New York and elsewhere we could have a real problem.

      240 staffed hospital beds per 100,000 people in Central Virginia and 98 per 100,000 people in Northern Virginia.

      1. sbostian Avatar

        That is certainly an issue. However, when we use countries like Italy and Iran as indicative of what we could expect, we have to make a lot of unwarranted assumptions: 1) Identical concentrations of most vulnerable groups (elderly and or serious preexisting medical conditions), 2) lack of any societal response when the problem was small as was the case in China, Iran & Italy. It will be interesting to see if physicians move to use some of the promising treatments (not cures) we are learning about to help people avoid needing hospitalization or shorten hospital stays. The objection about lack of studies is somewhat off base in the sense that there are foreign peer reviewed studies indicating significant promise for “old drugs” in treating COVID 19 patients, while safety concerns are alleviated by the fact that several of these have been in use for decades. Also, Lenox Hill Hospital in New York has announced that in treating 100 patients with Hydroxychloroquine all patients have recovered. If we do nothing and wait for multiyear FDA processes, we will indeed end up behind the power curve.

    2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      The City of New York is apparently going to take the Javits Center for use as a hospital as needed.

      I’m still waiting for Jeff McKay to address the budget for this year and the next fiscal year. We need to drop the “we do everything for everyone” budget and shift money into reserves and assistance for people hurt by the pandemic and its economic fallout. Feeding low-income kids is a helluva lot more important than funding the arts and virtue signaling.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    Why not adopt the approach South Korea took? They are bigger than any of our individual states including California and they were able to deal successfully with the virus without resorting to desperate measures.

    The funny thing here is that there are all kinds of “anti-virus drugs” available right now on the internet and black market and I bet you could get these malaria drugs – right now … if you looked around.


    If you don’t like the FDA – there ARE alternatives without kneecapping the FDA…

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    How about this for the chart? Each bar shows how many recovered and how many died..

    would doing that – add perspective?

  7. There is a lot more than anecdotal reports on the anti-malarials as anti-virals. Here’s a quote from and links to three papers. There are more at PubMed. (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health).
    “A 2005 report published in the journal Virology first raised the possibility that chloroquine and its derivative hydroxychloroquine might be effective at treating COVID-19, Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist and pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Live Science. The study revealed that chloroquine could prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV virus, which caused severe acute respiratory syndrome nearly 20 years ago, in primate cells grown in culture.

    “Chloroquine interferes with the virus’s ability to replicate in two ways. First, the drug enters compartments called endosomes within the cell membrane. Endosomes tend to be slightly acidic, but the chemical structure of the drug boosts their pH, making the compartments more basic. Many viruses, including SARS-CoV, acidify endosomes in order to breach the cell membrane, release their genetic material and begin replication; chloroquine blocks this critical step.”

    Published: 22 August 2005
    Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread

    Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Oct 8;323(1):264-8.
    In vitro inhibition of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus by chloroquine.

    Microorganisms. 2020 Jan; 8(1): 85.
    Published online 2020 Jan 8. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms8010085
    The Use of Antimalarial Drugs against Viral Infection

    In recent decades, drugs used to treat malaria infection have been shown to be beneficial for many other diseases, including viral infections. In particular, they have received special attention due to the lack of effective antiviral drugs against new emerging viruses (i.e., HIV, dengue virus, chikungunya virus, Ebola virus, etc.) or against classic infections due to drug-resistant viral strains (i.e., human cytomegalovirus). Here, we reviewed the in vitro/in vivo and clinical studies conducted to evaluate the antiviral activities of four classes of antimalarial drugs: Artemisinin derivatives, aryl-aminoalcohols, aminoquinolines, and antimicrobial drugs.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    from LiveScience: ” Could the anti-malarial drug chloroquine treat COVID-19?
    By Nicoletta Lanese – Staff Writer a day ago

    President Trump boasted the drug’s promise, but it must still be put through rigorous clinical trials”

    I’m okay with folks making their own decisions. I’m not okay with weakening the FDA protocols that are in line with most other similar organizations in other developed countries.

    We take so much for granted when it comes to drugs but drugs can and do kill people also – and if the FDA approves them – that potential harm/death warning is required.

    I’m in favor of keeping the protocols that inform us of those potentials.

    In the days of the internet, you can get just about any drug you want. What you won’t get is any assurance that the drug is pure and not adulterated, much less than it has stuff in it that can kill you.

    We don’t want that to become how we do drugs as our standard.

    Again, if that standard is too restrictive for some – let them make their own choices but don’t let them change the way the FDA works.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      If Trump hadn’t mentioned chloroquine you’d be a cheerleader. You are that badly biased.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        No I wouldn’t at all.. I’ve see all kinds of drugs like laetrile advocated by true believers who claim the govt is biased against it (LONG BEFORE TRUMP). They’re kin to the anti vaxxers and to the groups of people who have always been attracted to snake-oil type idiocy.

        That’s where Trump is right now – he’s of that group in his thinking and he’s the POTUS and promoting that view.

        You can call that bias and you do – but you too may not understand but I won’t claim you are “biased” over it. You might need to think on it cuz you’re flat wrong.

        I find the basic premise that the govt is not letting good drugs be used is ignorant and leaders who promote that viewpoint – irresponsible and I don’t care who their name is – it’s what they’re doing. If Pence did it or Northam, I’d have the same view.

  9. Posted on behalf of Pamela Baldwin:

    I would like to comment on the COVID-19 situation with regard to testing. My daughter and her family — two adults and three children age 11, 9 and 6, are — with the sole exception of my daughter — virtually certain to have Covid-19, based on their symptoms and the fact that my daughter and oldest grandchild were living temporarily in NYC when the outbreak began. (He is a child actor and was to have made his Broadway debut last Tuesday.) I live in a separate cottage on the same property as theirs, and I am (so far) fine. But I am deeply concerned as my daughter, who is a nurse practitioner herself, has been unable to find a way for any of them to be tested to confirm that they are affected by Covid-19. Their pediatrician has told her that there is no point to testing them, as they are doing what they can and need to do by isolating. Fair enough, except that widespread application of this policy means that the number of active cases is surely being significantly under-reported! How can policy-makers respond adequately if they are working with serious under-counting of cases?

  10. J. Abbate Avatar
    J. Abbate

    Good point on the “under-counting of cases”. Who could have been interested in keeping the counting of cases low, or even dragging their feet on ordering up tests kits which would have allowed us to see the wide-spread seriousness of this virus, or unable to grasp their responsibilities in coordination of a comprehensive local, state, and federal (or even global) response to what was identified in December/January by Security and Intel agencies as a potential serious pandemic. Let’s pin the tail on the correct donkey here. And that donkey’s name starts with a T, not an N. Thanks for the discussion.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Why would anyone trust anything funded by the Annenberg Foundation. Another left-wing organization.

  11. LarrytheG Avatar

    Without sufficient tests, to detect and isolate infected, we are basically flying in the dark with our primary strategy to tell people to keep apart – which is not exactly 100% effective so the goal is to just slow down the virus and flatten the peak… and as people get infected… tell those who had contact to quarantine and hope for the best and as stated , without tests, we really don’t even know how many are infected.

    This is the greatest country on the face of the earth – and this is what we’ve been reduced to. Sad.

    Maybe good news… talk of a 45-minute test that is also easy to produce in number and may be available next week. Hope springs eternal.

    If it turns out to be true – it might partially save our bacon.

  12. Jim Loving Avatar
    Jim Loving

    This Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering site provides real-time, global updates, sourcing and consolidating CDC, WHO, ECDC, NHC, and DXY sources. Hit refresh and you can literally watch the numbers climb. They are now breaking down country numbers within hot spot regions. You can hover over a region, e.g. Virginia, and see numbers for that region.

  13. Sadly Fairfax Co. announced first fatality today which is 3rd fatality for Virginia.

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