With roughly five months of data to work with, modelers have adjusted their approach to projecting what the future of COVID-19 looks like in Virginia.

In Friday’s Data Insights Report from the Virginia Department of Health, officials wrote that modelers at THE University of Virginia overhauled their projections and are now using an “adaptive fitting” methodology that uses past and current trends to predict future scenarios. Previously, modelers were lumping scenarios into eight different possible baskets. Now modelers are using data to provide specific scenarios for each health district.

One of the biggest questions modelers still have is the effect changing seasons will have on the spread of the virus.

“The new model also includes two "what-if" scenarios to predict what we might see if cases increase in response to seasonal effects in the Fall, such as schools re-opening and changing weather patterns,” modelers wrote. “It is still too early to know the impact that these seasonal effects will have. For now, the model assumes a 10-20% increase in transmissibility beginning on Labor Day. The model will be updated regularly to incorporate new information.”

The VDH reported that three new health districts in the Southwest Region and one in the Central Region began experiencing surges this week while Henrico and Prince William suppressed their surges in new cases.

Despite new surges, modelers wrote that surges appear to be declining while “case incidence remains high.” The state’s transmission rate is slightly higher this week than last (0.917) but it still remains below 1.0.

The Northwest Region, which includes the Lord Fairfax Health District, saw its transmission rate improve over the last week, dropping 0.212 points to a statewide low of 0.763.

By taking precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, modelers project that 922,941 confirmed cases have been prevented since May 15. New projections reach into the fall and suggest Virginia could see its new surge peak near Labor Day as schools and universities move back into full swing.

Virginia has had 104,838 cases, 8,650 hospitalizations and 2,370 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Total figures include 4,235 probable cases, 53 probable hospitalizations and 115 probable deaths.

The Lord Fairfax Health District reported 19 new cases, one new hospitalization and no new deaths on Friday, bringing its total to 2,624 cases, 231 hospitalizations and 90 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Total figures include 297 probable cases, one probable hospitalization and eight probable deaths.

Local cases

Shenandoah County has had 732 cases, 79 hospitalizations and 46 deaths.

Frederick County has had 690 cases, 52 hospitalizations and nine deaths.

Winchester City has had 412 cases, 32 hospitalizations and four deaths.

Warren County has had 366 cases, 22 hospitalizations and six deaths.

Page County has had 351 cases, 38 hospitalizations and 25 deaths.

Clarke County has had 73 cases, eight hospitalizations and no deaths.

Contact Max Thornberry at mthornberry@nvdaily.com