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Stay the course on distancing

Virginia has now been in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic for about a month. And while it has been difficult, models show it may continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

Cases continue to rise locally. In the Western Tidewater Health District, there was a small increase of three from Monday to Tuesday, following a big increase over the weekend. The total is now 62 confirmed cases — 30 in Suffolk, 23 in Isle of Wight County, five in Southampton County and four in Franklin.

According to widely cited models by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Wash., the peak resource use for Virginia will be on April 20. The models show that while there’s not likely to be a shortage of hospital beds, there may be a shortage of ICU beds.

One particularly grim aspect of the models is the peak “deaths per day” for Virginia, which is expected on April 22, with perhaps 59 deaths on that single day, the models show.

The pandemic is a scary and uncertain time, but there are some encouraging things we can learn through modeling — and one universal truth that the models don’t show for Virginia.

First, models show that social distancing works, and if we keep doing it, we can greatly reduce the peak for Virginia. With the projected peak resource use about 12 days away — and the maximum incubation of the disease roughly the same — your actions this week matter more than ever. Stay home except for the absolute essentials. Playdates, sleepovers and coffee with friends need to be put on hold. Our sacrifices now can reduce the peak, “flatten the curve” and help our great state overcome this pandemic.

Second, the Virginia Department of Health is not reporting the number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19. But anecdotes both from around the globe, in places that got hit before Virginia did, and from locally assure us that many — in fact, the vast majority that are infected — can and do recover from this disease.

We cling to the hopeful things, and we know you do, too.