COVID-19 Update: Yup, the Virus Has Plateaued

One hundred and ninety-nine COVID-19 patients were discharged from Virginia hospitals yesterday, exceeding the 66 patients admitted, according to the latest data from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA). The excess of discharges over admissions represents a major milestone in the fight against the deadly disease.

Perhaps it is time for Governor Ralph Northam to declare victory and move on. His draconian social-distancing policies are working. The spread of the COVID-19 virus has plateaued. He has “flattened the curve.” The number of confirmed cases in Virginia is still increasing, but at a steady rate, not an exponential rate. Hospitals are not at any near-time risk of running out of beds, ICUs or ventilators. Indeed, even the shortage of personal protective equipment may be easing. By the latest VHHA count, only six hospitals reported that they expected difficulty in replenishing their supplies over the next 72 hours.

But rather than take the opportunity to trim the rules that have tanked Virginia’s economy, delayed elective procedures, and restricted the liberties of its citizens, the Governor announced yesterday that he would extend them another two weeks to May 9. I’ll say more about that in an upcoming column. In the meantime, let’s look at the latest numbers.

COVID-19 spread

Total tests: 46,444, up 2,275
Total confirmed cases: 6.889, up 389 from the previous day
% tests positive: 17.1% yesterday
Total hospitalizations: 1,114, up 66 from the previous day
Total deaths: 208, up 13
Total hospital discharges: 951, up 199

Hospital capacity

Available beds: 5,543, down 74
Currently hospitalized for COVID-19: 
800, down two
ICUs in use:
427, up 33
Ventilators in use: 234, up four

Update: And better late than never, here is John Butcher’s graph showing how the number of confirmed new cases yesterday fits a curve that has peaked.