Governor updates commonwealth on COVID-19; southwest VA averages are highest in state

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 9:05 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Department of Health is reporting 135,514 total cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth as of Tuesday, September 15, going back to the beginning of the pandemic. That’s up from 134,571 reported Monday, a 943-case increase, which is a bigger increase than the 757 new cases reported from Sunday to Monday.

Governor Northam said he is extending a moratorium on evictions until October 5 for people who cannot pay rent because of COVID-related economic concerns.

He also is urging Virginians to utilize absentee ballots to vote in this year’s general election to prevent crowds from gathering at voting booths. He said so far, with seven weeks before the election, the state already has 790,000 requests for absentee ballots, versus 566,000 total in 2016. You can request an absentee ballot here.

The governor is urging the public to utilize the COVID-WISE app, which uses Bluetooth technology to let people know if they have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. He said as of Monday, 515,824 Virginians have downloaded the app, roughly 12 percent of the commonwealth’s population between 18 and 65 years old.

1,785,553 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests have been conducted, with a 7.1 percent positive rate over the last week, down from the 7.2 percent reported Monday. In southwest Virginia, Governor Northam said at his Tuesday media briefing, the percentage is 8.1. He said that’s been coming down in recent days, but is the highest in the state. Also the highest in the state is the southwest’s average of 229 new cases a day, even more than in northern Virginia, where more people live closer together than in the southwest.

The governor said, “Since southwest Virginia has fewer people and fewer hospitals with fewer ICU beds and fewer capabilities, this continues to be concerning to us.”

Governor Northam says he does not anticipate putting further restrictions on southwest Virginia, and instead is urging people to practice responsible behavior to stop the spread.

6,255 of Virginia’s overall cases as of Tuesday are considered “probable.”

There are 2,839 recorded coronavirus-related deaths in the commonwealth since the pandemic’s beginning, up from the 2,743 reported Monday.

Montgomery County, which is number 20 on the New York Times hotspot list, has 1,515 cases as of Tuesday, up from 1,487 Monday.

1,015 people across Virginia are hospitalized as of Tuesday with confirmed or test-pending cases of COVID-19. That’s up from the 1,006 reported Monday. 16,449 COVID patients have been released from hospitals in Virginia since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, which gets a daily report from hospitals around the commonwealth.

These hospital numbers are different from those reported by VDH, which only gathers hospitalization status at the time each case is investigated by VDH, and is an under-representation of Virginia hospitalizations.

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus

Any new confirmed cases from health departments throughout the state the rest of the day won’t show up until at least the following day on the state list, as the official numbers are only updated once a day, with a 5 p.m. cutoff each day for new cases to be reflected on the next day’s list.

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