Virginia COVID Cases Up, Deaths Down

by Kerry Dougherty

Welcome to Day 121 of 15 Days to Slow the Spread.

Seems like just yesterday that we watched, aghast, as Italy’s hospitals collapsed under the weight of those sick and dying from COVID-19. It was late February. If we didn’t act we faced the same fate, experts said.

And so, in mid-March, 15 days to slow the spread was born.

A move that was never intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but to slow it so that hospitals could prepare to treat the sick.

I know I’ve written this before, but let’s say it again, for those eating paste in the back of the class: There is no stopping a novel virus. None of us had immunity to Covid-19 prior to January. At this point it’s not a matter of IF we’re going to contract the coronavirus. It’s a matter of when.

It quickly became evident that those most at risk of critical illness or death were the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, obesity, COPD and compromised immune systems.

Once the 15 days were over, though, governors moved the goalposts. They closed schools, ordered businesses to shutter and told people to stay home.

Indefinitely.

Seemed they were now determined to somehow stop the virus. A fool’s errand.

As many of us predicted, the lockdowns were impossible to maintain. People need to work to support their families, children need to play, people need other people, hundreds of thousands need elective surgeries.

Naturally, as states began to open, COVID-19 spread. We simply delayed the inevitable.

Here in Virginia, things are murky. Yes, we have seen sharp increases in the number of cases in the past several weeks. Those numbers are particularly high among young people in Tidewater. But we have no idea if the spread is more rapid than it was before June because Virginia’s testing was atrocious.

For months, our testing data was some of the worst in the nation. In April, Virginia ranked near the rock bottom of states and scored even lower than Guam.

Throughout that month, Virginia tested about 2,000 people a day. In May it rose slightly, to about 5,000. By the end of May the commonwealth occasionally hit Gov. Ralph Northam’s goal of 10,000 tests a day. In June and July the state bounced between 8,000 to 15,000 tests a day.

In the early days only the sick were tested. Now anyone can get one.

And — stop the presses — our numbers of cases has risen dramatically. More testing unearths more cases.

Color me unsurprised.

Despite lots of positive tests, our death rate is low and 63% of our fatalities have occurred in nursing homes. Johns Hopkins reported yesterday that over the past week, Virginia’s rate of positive tests rose slightly to 5.4%, which means 94% of everyone tested was negative.

Hardly hair-on-fire territory.

Yet the governor is making noises about imposing more restrictions on Virginians. Someone please tell Northam that on Friday, the same day he was making threats, there were a total of four Virginia deaths from COVID. A sharp drop from May when our fatality numbers were soaring and hit 57 in a single day.

For most people COVID-19 is either an invisible illness or a mild one. For those with underlying conditions it can be awful and deadly. People most at risk will have to continue to hunker down at home, perhaps for the next several years. Let’s be honest, there may never be a vaccine.

But the answer is not to roll back the phased reopenings. Virginia’s hospitals have 3,699 available beds. Plenty to accommodate any increase in COVID patients.

Thinking back over these 121 days, a heretical thought occurs to me: Experts tell us that almost no one dies of the coronavirus without at least one underlying condition. Unsurprisingly, obesity is to blame for many COVID deaths and hospitalizations. With 78 million obese Americans, it might have been smarter to put America on a national diet in March instead of locking people up and wrecking the economy.

This column was republished with permission from www.kerrydougherty.com.

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24 responses to “Virginia COVID Cases Up, Deaths Down

  1. Option #1: Lock down everybody in the entire country to fight the epidemic.

    Option #2: Lock down the elderly and vulnerable, and let those at low risk go about their business.

    I’ll pick Option #2, thank you.

    • Close. Option #2 is fine unless our medical facilities start to get overwhelmed again. In that case the lockdown, or parts of it, needs to be intelligently reinstituted.

      My guess is that increased cases will inevitably lead to increased deaths although perhaps not at the same rate as in April.

      • “… perhaps not at the same rate as in April.”

        Unless the hospital is swamped, definitely not. We’ve learned better treatments. Unless, of course, you’re a 30-something, who believes it to be a hoax and attends a “covid party”, then natural selection comes into play.

    • and that’s the approach of Texas, Florida, Arizona, right?

      No one is saying it – but is the goal of these states to just proceed to herd immunity forthwith while swatting MSM OMG “news”?

  2. The miracle cure arrives Nov. 3. Unless Trump wins, and the media hysteria starts in on 2024.

    • If Criminillary Clinton were president right now, with the exact situation we have, victory over COVID-19 would be declared by the MSM. The declining death rate would be hailed as proof that the US, under the brilliant leadership of President Clinton, has learned to live with the disease while protecting the vulnerable. Everybody in America is safer because of the fine work of President Clinton. Well, everybody except Ghisilaine Maxwell. She would markedly less safe in a country run by a Clinton.

  3. Why is this so hard for PHDs, progressives, the liberal media, and their crony or intimidated allies:

    “None of us had immunity to Covid-19 prior to January. At this point it’s not a matter of IF we’re going to contract the coronavirus. It’s a matter of when.

    It quickly became evident that those most at risk of critical illness or death were the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, obesity, COPD and compromised immune systems.

    Once the 15 days were over, though, governors moved the goalposts. They closed schools, ordered businesses to shutter and told people to stay home.

    Indefinitely.

    Seemed they were now determined to somehow stop the virus. A fool’s errand.

    As many of us predicted, the lockdowns were impossible to maintain. People need to work to support their families, children need to play, people need other people, hundreds of thousands need elective surgeries.

    Naturally, as states began to open, COVID-19 spread. We simply delayed the inevitable. …

    For most people COVID-19 is either an invisible illness or a mild one. For those with underlying conditions it can be awful and deadly. People most at risk will have to continue to hunker down at home …

    Thinking back over these 121 days, a heretical thought occurs to me: Experts tell us that almost no one dies of the coronavirus without at least one underlying condition. Unsurprisingly, obesity is to blame for many COVID deaths and hospitalizations. With 78 million obese Americans, it might have been smarter to put America on a national diet in March instead of locking people up and wrecking the economy.”

    Thank you Kerry Dougherty.

    Have our expert and progressive elites gone mad?

    No, they just want to seize control of the nation, and its people, with themselves in control. They think Covid – 19, and George Floyd’s death, along with their control of media and public education make this long sought after dream a reality. For them it’s a perfect storm. They might well be right.

  4. I have a question rather than a comment. Does the new cases number include positive results on antibody testing? If so, what is the breakdown between diagnostic tests and antibody tests? If I understand the distinction properly, the antibody test flags people who have had a COVID 19 infection, not necessarily people who have active infections. Also, there are at least a few credible reports that there is a significant false positive issue withe the antibody test.

    • I think it is only the PCR test, looking for active infections. It does not include antibody tests indicating prior infection. So the Health Dept. website indicates. (But the antibody studies consistently say that many perhaps most infections are not identified when active.)

      Dr. and Sen. Dunnavant on WRVA this morning suggested that one reason we’re seeing hospital COVID cases rises is everybody entering a hospital is now tested. If they go in for an unrelated surgery and test positive, they are counted as a COVID admission even though they really aren’t that sick from COVID and wouldn’t otherwise be there. Certainly possible.

      • “If they go in for an unrelated surgery and test positive, they are counted as a COVID admission even though they really aren’t that sick from COVID and wouldn’t otherwise be there.”

        There’s a reason for this. It’s a contagious disease! Nice big red flag to make sure that after his ingrown toenail is fixed, he’s not put in the general population.

        • It looks like you missed something. I don’t think Steve is arguing that testing shouldn’t be done on admission to the hospital, for the reasons you cite. What I think he’s saying is, It’s not a hospital admission for Covid and shouldn’t be counted as such

      • Thank you. I did finally have time to go the VDH site which confirmed that positive tests stats only include PCR testing. However, some cases are diagnosed on symptoms alone (presumptive diagnosis). I have not seen VDH breakdown Cases between presumptive vs PCR confirmation.

        • Presumptive cases are not under testing on the VDH Dashboard. They are shown under the first tab with Total Cases 71,642 with Confirmed 68,814 and Probable 2,828. Hospitalizations Total 6,765, Confirmed 6,720 Probable 45, Deaths 1,968, 1,861 Confirmed, 107 Probable.

  5. Our government’s definition of overweight and obese is badly flawed. NFL superstars Tom Brady and JJ Watt are obese. So is Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Rock. George W Bush, America’s most fit president, is overweight. So is NBA legend LeBron James.

    “Thirty-five million Americans went to sleep one night in 1998 at a government-approved weight and woke up “overweight” the next morning, thanks to a change in the government’s definition.”

    While there are far too many legitimately fat Americans the government’s definitions seem designed to exaggerate the situation. Of course, that gives permission for a bevy of expensive government programs, new government regulations and another reason for American liberals to scoff at America.

    https://www.obesitymyths.com/myth1.1.htm

    • It changed, but why would you assume it’s wrong now? Because there are some apparent outliers, most of whom you listed are athletes?

      Don’t look now, but they’ve also changed the definition of “high blood pressure”. Of course, they haven’t studied strokes and heart attacks for 60 years and noticed that the old limit of 140/xx was letting too many through, it was because they want to sell more hypertension drugs.

      • It’s wrong because it doesn’t account at all for body type. Only height and weight. Therefore, it bears only the loosest relationship to body fat percentage for a lot of people. Athletes tend to make the point, especially athletes in strength-centric sports. DK Metcalf is an NFL wide receiver with a body fat percentage of 1.9%. That’s absurdly low. He’s 6’4″ tall and weighs 229 pounds. That gives him a BMI of 27.9 which is overweight tending toward obese.

        The BMI was introduced in the early 19th century by a Belgian named Lambert Adolphe Jaques Quetelet. He was a mathematician not a physician. It is a 200 year old SWAG.

        It ignores waist size which is a much more clear indicator of obesiety.

        A fat person will have a high BMI. But a person with a high BMI is not necessarily fat. Athletes and movie stars are often very fit with low body fat percentages but high BMIs.

        Like your blood pressure example, insurance companies sometimes charge higher rates for higher BMIs. This overcharges active, fit people. Tom Brady would categorize into the obese level by this standard. Obviously, insurance companies that take BMI into their pricing decisions like active fit people who pay a surcharge for a false reading of being overweight or obese.

        Obesity in America is a significant problem. We can do better to measure and manage it than by using a 200 year old Belgian hack.

        • One minor correction. While it is certain that insurance companies do use height and weight in underwriting, they do not use BMI as you know it to set rates and costs. Those folks pay a whole lot of very highly trained mathematicians a lot of money to squeeze every cent and they are not going to do something like use BMI as is. They’d lose customers and/or money.

          BMI is what it is. It’s an easy to use rule of thumb for general use.

          BTW, middle age (35 to 55) with a waist between 36″and 42″ is the sign of the dead man. Oddly, your risk goes down over 42″ until you get older, then you’re screwed again.

        • And one other note. When the insurance companies, life and auto, ask you, “highest education level achieved”, that gets worked in too. And oddly, the higher your education, the greater the probability you die in a car crash. You pay for that too.

    • This is the “about” trail for your link

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Berman

      BTW, he advocates for smoking deregulation… of course, he gets money from tobacco and the sugar companies… which might explain your link.

  6. You can take off your glasses. Don’t throw them away, you’ll need when you face forward, if ever.

    BTW, politics should have been your calling. Or maybe, journalism.

  7. “At this point it’s not a matter of IF we’re going to contract the coronavirus. It’s a matter of when.”

    This “it is written” belief of yours certainly explains your non-stop bellyaching over every action intended to thwart the proliferation of the virus, Dr. Dougherty. You’ve been bitching about the closing of Virginia Beach since about 3 minutes after it happened.

  8. It is this attitude that has led to the recent surge in cases in much of the country–it is only the old or sick that will be affected, so let them stay in their houses and we will party on. Besides, fat people have it coming. Never mind that we may get sick and infect some grocery clerk who has diabetes but must work.

    And contrary to Kerry’s opinion (who made her an infectious disease expert?), the disease can be tamed:
    New Zealand has not had a case in two weeks.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52961539

    The positive rate in Canada is one percent. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2020/07/statement-from-the-chief-public-health-officer-of-canada-on-july-13-2020.html

    And in Italy, once the epicenter in Europe, there are now only 65 serious cases; tourists are coming back; and the country has announced a plan to open schools in the fall. https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/87446;https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/italy-to-reopen-schools-on-14-september.html;https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52914089

    Except those tourists are not coming from the United States. Europe won’t let Americans in until we figure out how to control the virus. Maybe when leaders stop listening to attitudes like Kerry’s, that will happen.

  9. If we had closed our borders early on with mandatory quarantines for returning international travel as Canada and New Zealand did, we’d have had better control here too. If travel between NY and Florida, or between NC, MD and DC and Virginia had been stopped, the disease wouldn’t have spread as it did. Too late now. And it never had a chance of happening here.

    If Virginia had even quarantined all Egyptian cruise ship passengers, it would have gone a long way toward controlling the spread in NoVa, but that wasn’t recognized as a source until it was already out in the community.

    • yep – but we had too many like Kerry…. and still do…. who basically want what they want and to heck with others… that’s their problem….

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