By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
Note: The data reported in this story and accompanying charts are from May 5. The number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the city and state, as well as demographic data about cases, are updated daily on the VDH website.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alexandria continues to increase, with an average of 46 new cases reported each day in the month of May.
As of press time, there have cumulatively been 983 cases, 120 hospitalizations and 26 deaths in Alexandria. There have been no new fatalities reported since May 2. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there have been 20,256 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 2,773 hospitalizations and 713 deaths.
As for the theoretical peak in the city’s cases, hospitalizations and deaths, officials likely won’t know that the city has hit its peak until it’s already passed, according to Dr. Stephen Haering, director of the Alexandria Health Department.
In late April, the Virginia Department of Health began releasing demographic data about the age, race, ethnicity and gender of cases.
In line with national and state trends, the data shows that in Alexandria, COVID-19 is more likely to cause serious complications in older residents.
On May 2, the AHD reported that 58 percent of the fatalities in Alexandria, 15 of the 26 deaths, were residents who lived in long-term care facilities. In the state, 54 percent of Virginia COVID-19 deaths have been residents of long-term care facilities, according to a news release.
VDH reports that there have been outbreaks – two or more cases of COVID-19 – at seven long-term care facilities in the city.
While the virus is more likely to cause serious complications or death in older adults, VDH’s age group data shows that most of the positive cases of COVID-19, both locally and statewide, have been reported in younger to middle-aged adults.
The age group in Alexandria with the most positive cases of COVID-19 is 30-39 at 247 cases, followed by 4049 with 187 cases, then 20-29 with 138. The positive diagnoses drop off as age increases, 87 cases for those age 6069, 57 for those age 70-79 and 44 for those 80 and older.
However, the virus is more likely to cause serious illness or death in older residents, according to hospitalization and fatality reports.
The hospitalization rate per case, for the most part, increases by age group. Of the 247 cases reported for those age 30-39, there have been only 14 hospitalizations, a hospitalization per case rate of 5.7 percent. For the most part, that rate gradually increases as the age group increases. Of the 57 cases in the 70-79 age group, 24 have been hospitalized, or 42.1 percent of cases.
The same applies for the death rate per case, which mostly increases by age group. There have been no deaths in the 30-39 age group, while 12.3 percent of those who tested positive in 70-79 age group have died, and 22.7 percent of those 80 and older with a positive diagnosis have died.
Of the 26 fatalities in Alexandria, only one was a resident below the age of 50. The one exception was in the 20-29 age group and is one of only two fatalities to date statewide in that age group.
The other demographic categories reported by VDH are race, ethnicity and gender.
For gender, there are slightly more females than males who have tested positive for COVID-19 in both Alexandria and Virginia, though more males have been hospitalized and have died of the disease, both locally and statewide.
Lack of data makes it difficult to arrive at statistically reliable calculations on the rate of cases, hospitalizations or deaths by race or ethnicity in Alexandria, as more than a third of the city’s cases lack a racial designation while almost a third lack an ethnic identification.
Because of the high death rate in long-term care facilities, both in Alexandria and statewide, the AHD announced that it is working on expanding testing in those locations. An announcement on May 4 states that the AHD is working with the Virginia National Guard to conduct point prevalence surveys at Alexandria long-term care facilities.
A point prevalence survey is a data collection tool used to identify the number of people with an infection at a specific point in time, including those who are asymptomatic, according to the release.
The release does not specify what kind of testing – nasal swab, blood test or some other form – the PPS will entail. The release also does not specify a timeline for testing or identify which long-term care facilities will be tested. The city and health department did not respond to requests for comment.
As of May 6, the Virginia National Guard has nearly 570 personnel supporting the state’s COVID-19 response, according to a VNG spokesperson. The VNG’s top priority is providing support at long-term care facilities, according to the spokesperson. This includes helping with test sample collection, mask fit testing, test kit transportation and more.
The VNG is not cleared to release information about specific long-term care facilities to be tested or the results from those tests, according to the spokesperson.
The nine major long-term care facilities in Alexandria are Hermitage, Goodwin House, Sunrise, Brandywine, Woodbine, Silverado, Annie B. Rose House, The Fountains at Washington House and Envoy.
Hermitage Northern Virginia leadership recently learned that they are one of the facilities to be tested.
“[On May 5], our Hermitage Northern Virginia Team reached out to the Alexandria Health Department to determine if we meet the current threshold for a PPS survey. We received a response early this afternoon and the AHD team confirmed that they would like to test our entire community. According to the information we received, the timing of the survey would be coordinated around the Virginia National Guard’s availability,” Chris Henderson, chief executive officer of Pinnacle Living, the company that manages Hermitage, said in an email.
Hermitage released some positive news about cases at its facility on May 6; the facility was able to retest all of its healthcare residents, and while it had previously reported 13 positive cases of COVID-19, there are now only three positive cases.
Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center staff declined to say whether the facility would receive a point prevalence survey. However, they said they were open to the possibility.
“Knowledge is power, and we will welcome any new information that will help us protect and care for Woodbine residents. This may include the ability to identify and subsequently isolate any asymptomatic individuals who test positive for COVID-19,” Woodbine Administrator Donna Shaw said in an email.
Woodbine has opted not to share its number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations or deaths with the media.
As of the morning of May 5, the healthcare leadership team at Goodwin House Alexandria had not been contacted about the point prevalence surveys, according to Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Lindsay Hutter. While at least four employees of Goodwin House have tested positive for COVID-19, still no residents have tested positive, Hutter said.
Sunrise, Brandywine, Silverado, Annie B. Rose House and Envoy did not respond to requests for comment about the point prevalence surveys or their number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
For more information about COVID-19 in Alexandria, visit www.alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus. For the Virginia Department of Health’s demographic data, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.