New COVID-19 cases in Northern Virginia and statewide are nearly at the same levels as seen a year ago - before vaccines were available - and a new model projects that cases statewide could exceed January's peak by mid-September.
The surge over the past six weeks is due to spread of the Delta variant, which now exceeds 70% of all new cases in state, according to the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia.
"Delta poses a significant public health concern," the U.Va. Institute wrote in its July 30 modeling update on the pandemic. "It is considerably more transmissible and is thought to be largely responsible for the recent surge of cases in Virginia. Delta also causes more severe cases than prior variants."
While the Delta variant does appear to be causing more breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals than earlier variants, only 2.75% of cases statewide since May 1 have been in fully vaccinated individuals, according to the state health department. In Northern Virginia, that number is even lower, at 1.91%, or just 123 cases out of over 6,400.
The U.Va. report noted that "evidence is mounting that it may be possible to catch and spread the Delta variant even if one is fully vaccinated. In such cases, the vaccinated individual may feel few or no symptoms of illness, but still be infectious to others. Though they are likely less infectious than someone who was not fully vaccinated and developed the disease, the potential to infect others still exists."
If the Delta variant continues to spread, cases statewide could peak at 103 per 100,000 by mid-September, equaling or exceeding the January peak, according to the model.
Seven-day average test positivity rate by health district (July 30, 2021)
|Alexandria||40.1% / April 23, 2020||0.8% / July 3||4.3%||Up|
|Arlington||42.8% / April 20, 2020||0.3% / June 22||2.1%||Stable|
|Fairfax||38.6% / April 22, 2020||0.7% / July 1 & 2||2.8%||Up|
|Loudoun||27.9% / April 28, 2020||0.5% / June 20, 21, 22, 23||3.7%||Up|
|Prince William||36.7% / April 18, 2020||1.1% / June 20||4.1%||Up|
|Rappahannock||19.2% / Jan. 7||1.3% / June 20||6.3%||Up|
|Statewide||20.6% / April 22, 2020||1.3% / June 25||5.1%||Up|
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week that vaccinated individuals resume wearing masks indoors in areas with substantial to high transmission. Many of Virginia's counties fall in that range, although most Northern Virginia localities are still experiencing only moderate levels of transmission, according to U.Va.'s analysis.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday also recommending wearing masks indoors, but did not issue a mandate requiring them. The District of Columbia is now requiring masks indoors for everyone over the age of 2 when not eating or drinking.
All measures of the spread of the pandemic rose again over the past week - both statewide and in Northern Virginia - and the state's seven-day average positivity rate for diagnostic tests is back over 5% for the first time since the spring. Health experts believe that a rate over 5% indicate the spread of the virus is not under control. Most Northern Virginia health districts are still under 5% positivity rates, although all have risen significantly over the past month.
In Northern Virginia, the seven-day average of new cases has jumped from as few as 16.9 in mid-June to 176.9 as of Friday. (The health department has stopped updating case information on weekends). That's the highest the average has been since May 9. On July 30, 2020, the region's seven-day average was 211.4.
Statewide, the seven-day average has soared to 869.1 cases, the highest since May 5, and Friday's 1,178 new cases were the most in a single day since April 30. The state's average has increased more than six-fold since hitting a low of 129.3 cases a day on June 20.
Virginia's seven-day average is now just 20.6% below the average on July 30, 2020, and that gap is narrowing every day.
Hospitalizations for treatment of COVID-19 continued their rise over the past week. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported Saturday that 475 confirmed or likely COVID-positive patients were being treated statewide, the most since June 4. Updated data on Northern Virginia hospitalizations was not available.
The pace of vaccinations statewide has remained steady over the past six weeks at between 11,000 and 12,000 a day, according to the state's vaccination dashboard. The U.Va. report noted that the number of first doses administered has increased slightly in late July, however.
Over 9.43 million vaccine doses have been administered to Virginians, with 65% of the adult population and 54% of the total population now fully vaccinated.
The number of deaths reported statewide from COVID-19 ticked back up slightly this week, with 32 reported. Deaths tend to be a lagging indicator and can often take several weeks to verify and report; throughout the pandemic, deaths have begun to increase three to four weeks after an increase in cases. In Northern Virginia, only two new deaths were reported this week, both in Prince William County.
Northern Virginia data by locality (July 30, 2021)
|OTHER AREA JURISDICTIONS|
LATEST COVID-19 DATA
New Cases/Deaths (Seven days ending Friday, July 30)
Northern Virginia: 1,238 new cases (up from 881 prior week); 2 new deaths (down from 3 prior week)
Statewide: 6,084 new cases (up from 3,801 prior week), 32 new deaths (up from 23 prior week)
Statewide Testing: 79,045 PCR diagnostic test results (up from 65,298 prior week)
Northern Virginia: 187,638 cases, 2,407 deaths
Statewide: 694,384 cases, 11,532 deaths
Statewide Testing: 7.97 million PCR diagnostic tests (10.63 million when including antibody and antigen tests)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) cases: 78 (including 14 in Fairfax, 10 in Prince William, two in Loudoun and Alexandria and one in Arlington).
*Provided by Virginia Department of Health. The health department's COVID-19 data is updated each morning (Monday through Friday) by 10 a.m. and includes reports by local health agencies before 5 p.m. the previous day.
Statewide Hospital Data (as of Saturday, July 31)
Hospitalizations: 475 (up from 434 on July 24)
Peak Hospitalizations: 3,209 reached Jan. 13
Patients in ICU: 121 (up from 105 on July 24)
Patients Discharged: 58,160 (399 this week)
*Provided by Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association
For updated national and international COVID-19 data, visit the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard.
Editor's note: InsideNoVa is providing regular COVID-19 updates every Friday. For daily reports, visit the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard.