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New models show encouraging news

New models from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute show some encouraging news.

First, the current social distancing efforts seem to be working to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Monday web-based presentation on the new models. And second, Virginia as a whole should have sufficient medical resources for at least the next couple of months, researchers shared.

But they also said lifting restrictions too early could quickly lead to a second wave of infections more severe than the first.

“We are slowing the spread of this virus,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in his Monday afternoon press conference, a couple of hours after the new models were revealed. “But if we try to rush to get our lives back to normal, the number of cases will spike higher and earlier, and we can’t afford that. We need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Bryan Lewis of the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia said the new models are Virginia-specific and take into account some things that have been done in Virginia that other models may not.

Dr. Daniel Carey, Virginia secretary of Health and Human Resources, said Monday that Virginia is “in it for the long haul,” and Virginians need to “keep working with us on this.”
“It’s clear we need to be responsible about how we ease these restrictions,” he said. “We are preparing for how we can move forward in a way that does not trigger a second or third wave.”

It’s not yet clear when restrictions may be eased, but Northam said he may have some updates during his Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia now number 5,747 as of Monday’s update. There have been 149 deaths.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reports 765 positive cases hospitalized, and 473 people whose results are pending in the hospital. The positive and pending cases combined number 428 in the ICU, and 302 of them are on a ventilator.

In another piece of positive news, the VHHA for the first time is reporting the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients who have been hospitalized and later discharged. That number was 467 as of Monday, and it’s the first time an actual number of patients who have either recovered from the illness, or are on their way to recovery, has been given in Virginia, as the Virginia Department of Health is not tracking and reporting recoveries.

In the Western Tidewater Health District, confirmed cases now number 96 — 51 in Suffolk, 33 in Isle of Wight County, seven in Franklin and five in Southampton County.