RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The city of Richmond has entered the “medium” COVID-19 community transmission level, joining several surrounding counties.
Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties have had medium levels of virus transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Richmond’s move up from low to medium on the CDC’s transmission level tracker Thursday didn’t come as a surprise, as data has shown increased case levels in the area and projected more infections moving forward.
“After monitoring the case counts in Richmond City over the past week, we’ve been anticipating that we were likely to move to the medium level,” Joanna Cirillo, public health nurse supervisor at the Richmond and Henrico health districts (RHHD), said in a statement Friday.
The city’s seven-day total of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people is 9.8 and the weekly average rate of staffed inpatient beds occupied by those patients is 2.5%, according to the federal data.
In its latest weekly report on May 13, the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute said that 22 out of 35 health districts in the commonwealth were in a surge and another 11 were in slow growth.
“VDH is also tracking the epidemic trajectories of our neighboring states,” the report states. “Several more heavily populated states, such as New York and Florida, often lead Virginia by a few weeks when it comes to COVID surges. All of these warning systems are reporting the same: a new wave is coming.”
While the institute’s model predicts “a significant surge of cases in the coming weeks,” UVA researchers don’t believe case rates will hit the levels seen in January.
Case levels in Richmond have continued to rise since the start of May. From May 3 to May 17, the city’s seven-day average for daily cases rose from 31 to 83. The current average of new cases a day in Richmond is 82, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Severe outcomes, such as hospitalizations and deaths, have seen different trends. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has increased this month, moving from 184 patients in the hospital a day on average on May 1 to 392 on May 20, according to data tracked by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
Virginia reported six new COVID-19 deaths on May 20, which comes from data from the previous day, and has an average of three new deaths a day. Richmond did not report any new deaths on Thursday and its seven-day average for daily deaths is zero.
Cirillo added that RHHD has increased its testing capacity and given out over 30,000 at-home COVID-19 tests this year. The health districts have also opened up availability for Richmond and Henrico children ages 5 to 11 for Pfizer booster shots.
On Thursday, the CDC advised that children ages 5 to 11 get a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine after the Food and Drug Administration authorized its use, giving children between those ages a third booster option.
RHHD encourages families to go online, call 804-205-3501 or check with their child’s pediatrician or a pharmacy to book an appointment. The health districts will have walk-in vaccine clinics next week and after-school clinics at Whitcomb Resource Center from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on May 24 and at Mosby Resource Center from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 25.
Children can also be eligible to schedule a time to receive a booster in their home through the “Doses on Demand” program by calling 804-205-3501.