augusta free press news

90 days in: Virginia faring well in battle against COVID-19

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

The Virginia COVID-19 case counts continue to trend in a positive direction at the 90-day mark of the ongoing state of emergency, with a three-day average below 500 and the seven-day average at a six-week low.

An analysis of data from the Virginia Department of Health has the average number of new cases reported statewide over the last three days at 498.7, which is the lowest three-day average since April 18-20.

The seven-day moving average today stands at 753.2, the lowest number for that metric since April 30.

Local numbers

There have been 37 new cases confirmed in the Augusta County-Staunton-Waynesboro region in the past seven days.

The region has seen a total of 248 cases since Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency to stem the spread of COVID-19 back on March 12.

There have been a cumulative 13 hospitalizations in the region and two deaths.

Deaths and year-over-year

Statewide, the death toll stands at 1,514 as of today’s VDH dashboard update. This comes after a noticeably less deadly flu season in Virginia in 2019-2020, which saw 3,469 flu-related deaths, according to VDH data.

The total number of deaths from COVID-19 and the flu – 4,983 – is actually in line, to this point, to the average death toll of the past five flu seasons in Virginia.

According to the VDH, an average of 4,914 deaths in Virginia were attributed to the seasonal flu over the past five years, with a high-water mark of 5,155 flu deaths in the 2016-2017 flu season.

Impact: LTC, age demos

The VDH dashboard has 853 of the COVID-19 deaths in Virginia – 56.3 percent of the total – occurring in long-term care facilities.

That residents of long-term care facilities are more susceptible to respiratory illness isn’t just a COVID-19 thing.

Health officials, for instance, put out this warning last summer about an increase in respiratory illness in assisted living and long-term care facilities.

Age is also a factor. Per the VDH, 781 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths – 51.6 percent – have come in the 80+ population.

The death toll for those 60 and older – 1,372 – represents 90.6 percent of the overall death toll.

The crude case fatality rate for 60 and older is 12.2 percent.

I refer to that as a crude CFR because it’s simply the rate of fatalities among confirmed cases.

The state’s models for forecasting actual spread put the figure of unconfirmed cases – including those who are asymptomatic, or whose illness is mild – put the ratio of unconfirmed to confirmed at 7:1.

That would put the rough infection fatality ratio, accounting for the unconfirmed cases, for 60+ at 1.8 percent.

The crude case fatality ratio for those under 60 in Virginia is .34 percent.

The rough infection fatality ratio would be .049 percent.

You’re not supposed to say out loud that these numbers align well with what we know in terms of the impact of the seasonal flu.

Hospitalizations: Trending down

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association dashboard reports today that the number of patients with COVID-19 is 1,155.

This is down 28.9 percent from the high of 1,625 hospitalizations reported back on May 8.

Even then, though, the number of hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients was just 9.9 percent of the state’s overall 16,476-bed capacity.

Today’s usage rate is 7.0 percent.

The VHHA dashboard pegs the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators today at 139 – 23.5 percent of the total number of patients in Virginia hospitals on ventilators.

And only 20 percent of the state’s available ventilators are currently in use.

The high mark for COVID-19 patients on ventilators was back on April 14, when there were 276 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press