Why Is COVID-19 Trending Down in Virginia?

by James A. Bacon

As the COVID-19 virus continues to recede in Virginia, I’ve abandoned my day-to-day coverage of the numbers, but I think it’s still worthwhile to post periodic updates. The good news for Virginia as seen in the chart above, taken from the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard, is that the number of confirmed cases and deaths reported daily continue to decline — even as the virus flares up in California, Texas, Florida and Arizona.

To what do we attribute Virginia’s good fortune? Has Governor Ralph Northam found the sweet spot in his policy mix of emergency measures? Are Virginians just better behaved — more likely  to wear masks and maintain social distance — than the citizens of other states? Does the Old Dominion have human settlement patterns — less density, fewer elevators, less mass transit — that lend themselves to the propagation of the disease? Do we look to demographic factors such as a smaller percentage of illegal immigrants living in overcrowded housing? Or, less likely but not inconceivable, is the population on a pathway to developing herd immunity?

Readers, weigh in.


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10 responses to “Why Is COVID-19 Trending Down in Virginia?

  1. First, knock on wood. Trends can reverse. But I think, basically, Virginia followed the advice and didn’t start to re-open until it had hit a peak and seen a decline for a period (perhaps not the whole 14 days). Texas, CA, Florida never peaked. You can see it on the Johns Hopkins charts. Having not gone up, they didn’t see much decline. They are not seeing an extended first wave, or a spike, they are suffering the beginning of their first wave! Having the national media drive this (with a NYC focus) made it seem like this was one big lock step process. But isn’t it always the case that viral issues pop up, die down, move somewhere else and pop up again? Wasn’t that the pattern in 1918?

    The good news is that those locations now seeing their first real wave are better prepared, and probably well focused on protecting the congregate living locations. So we can hope for fewer deaths. But I’ve always felt that absent a total lockdown for a month or more, which never happened in the US anywhere (NY came close), this disease would continue to spread. And in those parts of Virginia where the southern beaches beckon, it is spreading now.

  2. We mitigated, in time, and just enough, but we got lucky too. We slid down the backside far enough that loosening restrictions weren’t immediately reversed. We had downward momentum, which is continuing.

    Nevertheless, 90% of us are still vulnerable, fertile ground, the virus is now being reported as mutated, rising rapidly in 40 States, and I suspect that “waves” is the wrong imagery. Think “hydraulic”. Think more of it as a rising tide. Think Bay of Fundy at max flood.

    What we know of viruses, and what we don’t know about this one should scare the bejezzus out of you.

    • My understanding is that the mutations are in RNA transmission and have not (yet) expressed themselves as protein coating mutations, which would be the real boot to the crotch.

      But of course, the longer the national response is to let states do what they will instead of Uncle Sugar paying people to stay home the more opportunities for all sorts of fun mutations there are.

      • POTUS: But the Europeans were able to have a fireworks show and their house isn’t on fire…
        Fauci: Yes, Donald, but they didn’t light theirs in the living room.

  3. I was a bit taken aback since Northam apparently lost the moniker “Wise King”.

    But the other thing that is gone apparently is the narrative that young folks don’t die from it, so let it all hang out.

    what happened to that?

    re: Bay of Fundy –

    tidal bore?

    • With me, most use people the adjective “monumental”, in keeping with a recent spat of opinion pieces.

      Mocking the man, who accidentally or not, winds up exhibiting the very quality used, becomes embarrassing.

  4. Virginia checked in at #22 among states by per capita COVID19 death rate. A look at the data shows that the states which locked down the hardest (like New York) had, by far, the worst death rates. Virginia’s somewhat worse than average performance had nothing to do with actions taken or not taken by Northam. We shut down later and to a lesser extent than Maryland and Maryland had a significantly worse death rate. Why? Because Maryland is closer to New York. The governor who couldn’t get our testing regime right got lucky in being only somewhat worse than average. If this contagion recurs (like the Spanish Flu recurred) we might not be so lucky next time – especially if No Test Northam is still governor.


  5. Despite having the 22nd highest death rate among the states we have the 16th lowest percentage of our population tested among the states. And this data, using 14 day trends, shows cases increasing in Virginia, not decreasing.


    • LTCF Point Prevalence survey results coming in over the next 2-3 weeks will likely show some increases in total cases. We can only hope today’s LTCF 28 of 29 total deaths is from a reporting lag and not a trend.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    A Washington DC newscast last night illustrated how the rates in Northern Virginia were trending down but the rest of the state is trending slightly up. The claim was that this helps the overall trend pattern.

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