In the past week, President Donald Trump and Gov. Ralph Northam tested positive for the coronavirus, along with the first ladies.
As November nears and political passions flare, many may argue whether it was a better or worse week for the pandemic.
But for most of Hampton Roads, which was considered a hotspot in Virginia for the virus this summer, case rates were either flat or showing signs of decline. The region saw half the number of deaths as it did in the seven days prior.
Only Western Tidewater, which includes Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, had an increase in its trajectory. It’s also the only health district in the state experiencing a surge, according to public health officials.
From Sept. 25. through Friday, Isle of Wight reported 41 new cases, Southampton reported 30 new cases, Suffolk reported 26 new cases and Franklin reported 11 new cases.
The state is on its third straight week of a reproduction rate under 1.0, according to the Virginia Department of Health. That means on average each infected person is spreading to fewer than one other person. When a virus' reproduction rate is that low, it can indicate an outbreak is subsiding.
If this trend continues, infectious disease analysts believe case growth likely won’t top August levels, even if the reproduction rate suddenly jumped by 20%. The University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute, which is partnering with the health department to offer data-based COVID-19 projections, is predicting that the current course could lead to about 184,000 cases by Thanksgiving. While that may sound like a lot, it’s lower than the forecast one week ago, which estimated a potential 206,000 cases before the holiday.
Infectious disease models are always changing to adapt to new information, as are human behaviors. Uncertainty, for example, comes from not knowing how students returning to schools and campuses will contribute to the spread of the virus. Some communities, particularly those with large college student populations, have had spikes that needed to be contained. Another unknown is how the weather and flu season will factor into the pandemic.
In Hampton Roads, there were 24 deaths last week. Of those fatalities, eight were reported in Newport News, five in Virginia Beach, four in Southampton, three in Hampton, two in Suffolk, and one each in Chesapeake, Portsmouth, James City County and Isle of Wight.
As of Friday morning, there had been a total of 150,000 cases in Virginia and 3,250 deaths. Over the previous seven days ending Friday, nasal swab tests were coming back positive at a rate of 4.5%. More than two million tests have been given statewide.
The United States surpassed 200,000 deaths and more than 7.3 million cases this week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the world, more than a million people have died of the virus and there have been more than 35 million cases.
Over the past week, Virginia Beach has had the most new COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads, according to the state health department. On Sept. 25, the city reported 6,776 cases and on Friday, it reported 7,000 cases, for an increase of 224 cases. The seven-day daily case average for Virginia Beach was 32, compared with 33 last week.
Chesapeake reported 104 cases for the week. The city was averaging about 15 cases a day, the same as it was one week earlier.
Norfolk reported 100 new cases for the week. For much of July, the city was reporting a daily average that was more than the total number of cases for the past week. The seven-day daily case average Friday was 14, which was up from an average of 11 cases reported a week ago.
Newport News reported 70 new cases for the week, with a seven-day daily average of 10 reported Friday. Last Friday, the average was 11 new cases.
In Portsmouth, there were 57 new cases reported in the week. Portsmouth averaged around eight cases a day, which was up from last week’s average of seven cases per day. The city averaged around 40 cases a day during its peak this summer.
Hampton had 56 new cases reported for the week. Per the health department’s Friday data, the city was averaging about eight cases a day. Last week, Hampton averaged around six cases a day.
In James City County, there were 18 new cases reported for the week. The average stayed at three new cases a day, the same as last week.
Accomack, Gloucester, Mathews, Poquoson, Middlesex, Southampton, York, Norfolk, Williamsburg and Franklin did not report any deaths for the week.
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