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VA Coronavirus School Dashboard Launched, 2 NoVA Schools On List

VIRGINIA — With more students heading back to school for in-person learning in parts of Virginia, the state Department of Health has added a new feature to its coronavirus website that lists current and past outbreaks of the virus in schools.

The VDH dashboard feature, called “Outbreaks in School Settings,” shows a list of outbreaks at Virginia schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. No current outbreaks in schools in Northern Virginia were reported by the VDH on Saturday.

In Alexandria, though, Episcopal High School has an outbreak that is “pending closure.” Outbreaks are labeled as “pending closure” if 28 days have passed without a documented new case and the outbreak has not yet been closed in the Virginia Outbreak Surveillance System.

In Loudoun County, Dominion High School had an outbreak that is now listed as “closed.” Outbreaks are labeled as “closed” when two incubation periods of 28 days have passed without onset of new illness and the health district has closed the outbreak in its outbreak surveillance system.

The dashboard will help schools measure the extent to which the coronavirus is spreading in their localities and guide possible responses, according to the VDH.

“Fully re-opening our schools remains a priority as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Students have different learning styles, and for some, face-to-face interactions in a classroom are important to achievement,” Virginia State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said Friday in a statement.

By providing additional information on where outbreaks are occurring, the VDH hopes to offer a broader picture of the impact of the coronavirus and help communities decide where to place resources to prevent and control outbreaks, Oliver said.

“Given the changing nature of the pandemic, we felt providing these data at this time poses no risk to public health investigations or to compromising patient anonymity,” he said.

Only cases associated with outbreaks are displayed and not the total number of cases among students or staff that are unrelated to the outbreak. The dashboard lists public and private schools. Only the outbreaks where transmission occurred at the school or school-sponsored events are included.

Latest COVID-19 Numbers in Virginia

The VDH reported 1,088 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the cumulative total to 172,372. The new cases include 374 in the southwest region, 219 in the central region, 196 in the northern region, 153 in the northwest region and 146 in the eastern region.

There have been 3,578 coronavirus deaths to date, which include 39 reported in the last day. Because deaths may be reported on a different day than the one on a death certificate, VDH also tracks death certificate dates. To date, the highest seven-day average of deaths by death certificate date was 40 on May 5. Data may be incomplete for the most recent weeks, but the seven-day average has been less than half of the May 5 peak since June.

Cases of the coronavirus have been increasing steadily over the last four weeks in Lee, Scott and Wise

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Southwest Virginia Coronavirus Hospitalizations Climb Past NoVA

VIRGINIA — Southwest Virginia has surpassed population centers in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater area in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Statewide, cumulative hospitalizations stood at 11,831 as of Saturday, while current patient numbers totaled 993, according to the Virginia Department of Health. That includes 218 hospitalizations in the state’s southwest region, compared to 216 in the northern region and 187 in the eastern region. The central region led the state with 238 hospitalizations on Saturday and the northwest region had the fewest hospitalizations at 134.

The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations in the southwest region has grown from 161.7 a month ago on Sept. 17 to an average of 204.6 hospitalizations on Saturday. In Northern Virginia, the seven-day moving average of hospitalizations has dropped from 237.7 on Sept. 17 to 221.7 on Oct. 17.

Southwest Virginia also has seen a growing number of positive coronavirus cases since July 1. The region was reporting a seven-day moving average of 79.6 positive cases on July 1 compared to an average of 292.4 on Oct. 17.

The VDH reported 1,114 additional coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the cumulative total to 165,238 cases. Saturday’s new cases included 348 in the southwest region, 273 in the central region, 216 in the northern region, 152 in the eastern region, and 125 in the northwest region.

Health officials had viewed the rise in cases in southwest Virginia since August as predominantly student-related, with students at Virginia Tech, Radford University and other colleges returning to school.

But an increase in hospitalizations in southwest Virginia may indicate the disease is spreading to older populations in the region.

At a news conference last month, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the state needs to keep an eye on the southwest region due to its high positivity rate. “Since Southwest Virginia has fewer people and fewer hospitals with fewer ICU beds and capabilities, this continues to be concerning to us,” the governor said at the time.

The latest statewide seven-day average is 4.9 percent on Oct. 13, with the southwest region still far above the rest of the state at a 7.2 percent average. The rest of the state is in the 4-percent range: central region at 4.7 percent, eastern region at 4.5 percent, northwest region at 4.3 percent and northern region at 4.1 percent.

According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, there are 100 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 219 in the intensive care units. Ventilator use among all hospital patients is at 23 percent of capacity as of Friday, while ICU occupancy stands at 82 percent. No hospitals are reporting difficulty obtaining personal protective equipment or other medical supplies in the next 72 hours.

As for the positive rate of PCR tests, the latest statewide seven-day average is 4.9 percent on Oct. 13. Regions in the 4-percent range are the central region (4.7 percent), eastern region (4.5 percent), northwest region (4.3 percent) and northern region (4.1 percent). The southwest region’s average is 7.2 percent.

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