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COVID-19 numbers continue to rise sharply in Gloucester

Coronavirus cases continued to climb in Gloucester over the past week, going from 79 last Wednesday morning to 112 this Wednesday, a 41 percent increase following last week’s 50 percent jump. Cases in Mathews increased, as well, from seven last week to nine this week, after having been at just five cases throughout most of May and June.

Middlesex County has also seen a rise in cases, from 18 last Wednesday to 21 this Wednesday, and that county saw its first death on July 20. There have been no additional deaths in Gloucester, and Mathews has lost no one to the illness thus far.

The rise across the Three Rivers Health District as a whole has been less dramatic. Cases went from 824 last Wednesday morning to 897 this Wednesday, a difference of 73 cases, or 8 percent.

Dr. Richard Williams, director of the Three Rivers Health District, said the increase in cases in Gloucester appears to be related to enhanced community transmission. People are gathering in groups without taking the precautions of masking and observing social distance, he said.

While the number of hospitalizations in the three local counties remains static, Williams said that hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators of COVID-19.

“What we see today reflects what the virus was doing 10 days to two weeks ago,” he said. “Case counts always go up first.”

In addition, he said that in recent weeks the newly-diagnosed cases in most localities have been among young people.

“Some of them will get sick and require hospitalization,” he said. “More importantly, they will go home and other places and infect more vulnerable people who, a week to 10 days later, will also get sick and eventually require hospitalization.”

Williams said that death rates will eventually rise in the district.

“This is what we’re seeing at the national level, and is the pattern this disease takes,” he said.

Statewide, 6,866 new cases were added over the past week, going from 73,527 last Wednesday to 80,393 this Wednesday, or an increase of 9 percent. Hospitalizations increased cumulatively by 446, from 6,905 last week to 7,351 this week, while deaths rose by 59, from 1,192 to 2,051.

Labs across Virginia continue to test thousands of people each day, with the total number of PCR tests conducted increasing from 824,142 last Wednesday to 951,174 this Wednesday, or 127,032 tests during the week. The overall rate of positive tests continued to increase, as well, from 7.2 percent last week to 7.9 percent this week.

The Three Rivers Health District conducted 1,809 PCR tests during the past week, for a total thus far of 15,708 since testing began. The overall rate of positive tests decreased in the district during the past week, from 5.4 percent to 5 percent.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, which keeps track of the number of people actually in hospitals on a daily basis, reported that 1,157 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases were hospitalized across Virginia as of Wednesday morning. Of those patients, 253 were in intensive care units, with 136 on ventilators.

New data that the VHHA began to record during the past week showed that ICUs across the state had a 76 percent occupancy rate as of Wednesday morning. However, with 702 surge beds added, the occupancy rate was at 53 percent.

There were 2,999 ventilators on hand in hospitals as of Wednesday morning, with 635 of them in use.

Total inpatient bed availability was 3,555 across Virginia, with an additional 3,695 beds available under the governor’s Executive Order 52. Before EO52, Virginia had 16,476 staffed hospital beds and 18,078 licensed beds.