Since June 5, the day Virginia moved into Phase Two of its reopening plan, the Virginia Department of Health has recorded 22.7% of the state’s cases.
Case counts have continued to climb but models produced by the University of Virginia earlier this month pointing to late May as the commonwealth’s peak COVID-19 time appear to have been accurate.
Today, the state will usher in the lightest restrictions it has seen since March as entertainment businesses are allowed to open their doors and restaurants face significantly fewer restrictions on how many patrons they are allowed to seat.
While the cap on the percentage of a restaurant's total capacity will be lifted, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday evening that restrictions on bar seating in restaurants will stay in place.
“I am watching what is happening in other states – we are taking a cautious approach as we enter Phase Three and maintaining the current restrictions on bar areas,” Northam states in a release. “In Virginia, our hospitalization rates have fallen, our percentage of positive tests continues to trend downward, and we are conducting more than 10,000 tests each day. We want these trends to continue, but if our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities.”
According to the release, restrictions on bar seating areas in restaurants will remain in place in order to prevent people from congregating. Restaurants can still use inside, non-bar seating as long as appropriate social distancing guidelines are still in place between the tables.
News of COVID-19 appeared to fade for large parts of June as nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery drew hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes and onto the streets. Sharp increases due to the gatherings have not been distributed evenly as major metro areas such as Seattle have not seen increases connected to protests but increases in Los Angeles do appear to be linked to protesters.
Activists in Front Royal gathered twice last month but Warren County only saw 49 new cases between the date of the first protest on June 5 and June 26 — roughly enough time for any cases potentially spread to incubate.
Some areas have seen more extreme changes. Richmond City has recorded 682 new cases since June 5 and Northam extended his state of emergency order for the commonwealth on Monday. The original order cited “civil unrest” in Richmond and Monday’s order extends the state of emergency through July 31.
Despite warnings about the national rise in COVID-19 cases, Virginia has appeared to move through its initial reopening stages without setbacks.
On Tuesday, the VDH reported it has recorded 62,787 cases, 6,203 hospitalizations and 1,763 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Total figures include 2,663 probable cases, 34 probable hospitalizations and 105 probable deaths.
Since June 5, the VDH has reported 14,255 new cases, 1,195 new hospitalizations and 310 new deaths.
Virginia’s case count has gone up, in part, because it has improved its testing regime. Since June 5, the VDH has returned results on 280,852 COVID-19 detection tests, about 43% of all the tests conducted since the beginning of the pandemic. The state’s positivity rate also improved during Phase Two, dropping from a seven-day average of 8.5% on June 5 to a seven-day average of 6% on Tuesday.
One trend in recent weeks has been a change in the average age of the people who are testing positive for COVID-19. In some areas of the country, the average age of new cases has fallen to younger than 30. In Virginia, the 20-29 age range makes up the most cases (11,590) and the 60-69-year-olds are the most likely to be hospitalized, with 1,238 having been hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic. While cases and hospitalization rates are beginning to skew younger, COVID-19 still appears, in Virginia, to be the most dangerous for older citizens as those aged 70-89 make up 75% of the state’s deaths.
The Lord Fairfax Health District reported it has had 1,974 cases, 174 hospitalizations and 67 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Total figures include 218 probable cases, one probable hospitalization and four probable deaths.
The district’s positivity rate continued to fall Tuesday, dipping to 6.9%. The district reported it has returned results on 19,292 COVID-19 detection tests since the beginning of the pandemic.
Shenandoah County reported it has had 562 cases, 62 hospitalizations and 29 deaths.
Frederick County reported it has had 493 cases, 37 hospitalizations and six deaths.
Winchester City reported it has had 317 cases, 23 hospitalizations and 3 deaths.
Warren County reported it has had 284 cases, 19 hospitalizations and five deaths.
Page County reported it has had 269 cases, 29 hospitalizations and 24 deaths.
Clarke County reported it has had 49 cases, four hospitalizations and no deaths.