VA officials fear hospitals overcrowded as COVID cases skyrocket

VIRGINIA – Virginia again set a new record for COVID-19 cases on Thursday as the highly contagious variant of omicron spreads across the state.

The Virginia Department of Health reported 13,500 new positive cases on Thursday, breaking the previous one-day high for the state set Wednesday when 12,112 new positive cases were reported.

Prior to this week, the previous record in Virginia was set on January 17 when 9,914 new cases of COVID-19 were reported.

The record number of cases Thursday pushed Virginia above the 1.1 million case mark. Since March 2020, 1,100,900 Virginians have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the VDH.

The 7-day positivity rate is currently 19.3% in Virginia, up from 17.4% on Wednesday. The positivity rate is close to the all-time highest rate set in April 2020, when it was 20.2%, as COVID-19 quickly spread across the state for the first time.

Virginia health officials said on Thursday that the state was in the middle of a fifth wave of coronavirus since the pandemic began in 2020. The peak of this latest wave may not arrive for several weeks after the end of the pandemic. the holiday season, which makes probable its real impact on Public health and the health care delivery system are not yet fully felt, said VDH.

In the meantime, health officials and hospital leaders are urging people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms to avoid already overcrowded hospital emergency departments.

“People with severe symptoms of COVID-19 such as severe breathing difficulties, severe chest pain, severe weakness, or a high temperature that persists for days without slacking off are among those who should consider seeking medical attention. ’emergency for their condition,’ VDH said in a statement. statement Thursday.

What state officials describe as “unnecessary visits” to hospital emergency departments “put great pressure on hospitals and frontline health workers,” VDH said.

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“Such visits can also delay the care of patients facing a real medical crisis and contribute to the depletion of limited resources, including medical staff, test kits, personal protective equipment and therapeutic treatments.” , the department said.

Along with the skyrocketing number of positive cases, daily hospitalizations for COVID-19 rose from 922 on December 1 to 2,101 on Thursday, an increase of 128% during that time.

“While these numbers are high, they are still below the maximum number of hospitalizations Virginia experienced around the same time last year,” VDH said. “This is in large part due to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines. “

Data continues to show that the vast majority of patients currently hospitalized in Virginia for COVID-19 care are not vaccinated. “The available vaccines offer strong protection against COVID-19 disease,” the department said.

As of Thursday, 78% of adults in Virginia were fully vaccinated, while 67.5% of all residents were fully vaccinated, according to the VDH. Among children aged 5 to 11 in Virginia, 31 percent received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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Jerry B. Hatch