One Day Later, COVID-19 Cases Spike Across State

By Brian Carlton

October 8, 2020

Health department officials say an error caused some cases to be left off earlier counts

RICHMOND-Virginia’s COVID-19 numbers aren’t as good as we thought. On Wednesday, health department officials outlined several positives, including a lower percentage of confirmed cases than expected. One day later, they had to walk that back. Due to a system reporting error, the department left 689 cases off Wednesday’s count. That means instead of 509 cases, the lowest 24-hour number since August, the state saw 1,198 during that period. 

The health department’s numbers weren’t much better on Thursday, with 1,155 additional cases to report. This marks the second error causing problems with the count. In mid-September, officials reported a computer error that left 96 deaths off the state’s lists. 

Now this doesn’t reflect immediate cases. These are people tested with the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, kits. These PCR tests take a few days to process and most people only get tested when symptoms develop. Since symptoms take up to two weeks to show, what we’re seeing now is how Virginia looked in mid-September. 

Officials warn the numbers could climb higher over the next few weeks due to outbreaks across the state. This week’s data doesn’t count outbreaks in multiple school districts in southern Virginia, for example. Both Franklin and Henry counties, reported outbreaks in local schools. 

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Southwest still leads in cases

Parts of the state continue to throw up red flags. Counting Wednesday and Thursday’s data, the southwest region reported 678 cases. That’s the highest in the state, with the northern region coming in second at 621. Eastern Virginia reported 459 cases in that period, with 352 coming out of the northwest and 349 from the central region. 

In an earlier press conference, Gov. Ralph Northam said what’s concerning is the fact the southwest region just doesn’t have the hospital or ICU capability to handle a major outbreak. Southwest Virginia includes a lot of rural counties and some don’t have a fully operating hospital. Even if the buildings are still in use, some facilities operate more as an emergency department or urgent care. The problem isn’t that people don’t know the guidelines. They’re just not practicing them. 

As of Thursday, Virginia reported 155,535 cases since March. That includes 11,393 COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 3,328 deaths.

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