Virginia’s reported and confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Coronavirus could be much larger than reported by the Virginia Department of Health, health experts say.
The Commonwealth’s testing capacity lags behind other states and that delay hides infections that exist but has not been confirmed.
That lag, one nurse told us Monday, could also hide existing virus cases in Floyd County, where latest reports by VDH says no confirmed cases exist.
Some Floyd County residents say they know they have the virus but cannot get tested because of the state’s bureaucracy or refusal of a doctor to give them a referral to be tested.
“Those numbers — in and of themselves — are almost definitely an underestimate of the actual spread of the disease in the community,” Dr. Norman Oliver, Virginia health commissioner, told a briefing Monday. “There are many people who have COVID-19 who are walking around in our community.”
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association’s “dashboard” on its website that says 1,183 patients in the Old Dominion’s hospitals with “pending” results on COVID-19 tests. As of Tuesday, 589 patients are confirmed infected by the virus and hospitalized. The remaining 594 are in the hospital but test results have not come in.
VDH says 562 are hospitalized with the virus.
Experts believe that hospitalizations account for a small percentage of overall COVID-19 cases, but because so little is known about the novel virus, the rate of people infected who end up in the hospital is unknown. Many people could either have no symptoms or have symptoms that are not severe enough to be admitted to the hospital.
VHHA said Monday 387 of those hospitalized in Virginia are in intensive care wit 285 on ventilators.
VDH reported Tuesday that Virginia has tested 28,645 with 3,333 infected and 63 dead. Those numbers contain only cases confirmed by 5 p.m. Monday. The report issued this morning still lists no confirmed cases of the virus in Floyd or Patrick Counties.
Do we have hidden cases of COVID-19 inside the borders of Floyd County that have COVID-19? Possibly, a doctor told us Monday after we agreed to not use his name.
His advice: If you believe you are infected or have been around someone who is, have your doctor check and provide the documentation to get tested immediately.
The nurse who helped bring this situation to our attention says too many people in Floyd County could feel a false sense of security by reports that a virus does not exist in any resident here.
This pandemic, experts say, can and does put everyone at risk. The prime minister of Britain was admitted to a London hospital’s intensive care unit when symptoms of the disease that had kept him self-quarantine for the past 10 days worsened.
To date, the virus has killed the famous and not-so-famous, the rich and the poor, young and old, healthy and not-so or fit and obese
COVID-19 does not discriminate. It is an equal-opportunity killer.