Look at the map above, and you’ll see the state of COVID-19 infections in Virginia. Red indicates high levels of community transmission and vividly shows that this holiday season is not the time to let down your guard.

The rate of transmission in the commonwealth is 191.5 per 100,000, according to the Virginia Department of Health, as measured the first week of December. That’s a rate of 8.1% positivity statewide. The state’s daily numbers for Thursday are 3,688 new cases, or 8.5%.

There were 1,430 people with COVID-19 receiving treatment in Virginia hospitals on Thursday, according to the state. There were 336 who required intensive care unit treatment, and 185 were on ventilators. The state reports 1,997 available hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and 427 open beds in ICUs.

Nine days to Christmas, and the numbers are trending upward. Before Thanksgiving, the positivity rate statewide stood at 5.8%, with 1,500 new cases or so daily. The numbers are expected to climb heading into the new year.

“Everyone anticipates a winter surge is coming,” says Dr. Michael Stevens, infectious diseases physician and interim hospital epidemiologist for VCU Health.

The omicron variant is a concern, but Stevens says the delta variant remains dominant.

“I think we have to be on our guard, for sure,” he says.

Older Americans are one of the most vaccinated age groups, but even when fully vaccinated and boosted, they still need to take precautions, as do their friends and loved ones, this holiday season.

 The New York Times in a report on Wednesday delineated the toll that COVID-19 is taking on older Americans, reporting that 1 in 100 Americans 65 and older have died from the disease, and that seniors account for 75% of COVID-19 deaths in the nation. About 20% of the national population is 65 or older.

Breaking down demographics from the Virginia Department of Health, 85.8% of COVID-19-related deaths in the commonwealth were people aged 60 and older. The toll is broken down into age brackets. Of the 15,055 deaths from COVID-19 in Virginia since the pandemic began, 17.9% were ages 60-69, 25.7% were ages 70-79, and 42.2% were 80 or older.

Those numbers reflect the natural deterioration in immunity in seniors. “The older you get, the more you are at risk for complications from any viral illness,” Stevens says. Get into your 70s and older, and the immune system becomes a little less robust; hence, more severe illness and the more likely you are to develop secondary complications.

Before you gather with loved ones from outside your immediate household, get your booster shot and plan to mask up indoors around the nonvaccinated. Get the kids vaccinated, too. Stevens also recommends getting a regular flu vaccination as soon as you can.

Get tested for COVID-19, before and after you travel. Consider an at-home antigen test before gathering with others. If you’re symptomatic, get tested and isolate, don’t go to a gathering anyway.

For indoor gatherings, keep the mask on when not eating and engage in social distancing when possible.

By the Numbers

The state is experiencing a high rate of transmission of coronavirus. Here’s a snapshot of COVID-19 statistics for Virginia.

  • 8.1% positivity rate (191.5 cases per 100,000): Statewide transmission rate for the week of Dec. 5-11
  • 8.9% positivity (185.7 cases per 100,000): Chesterfield County
  • 7.3% positivity (201 cases per 100,000): Henrico County
  • 7.9% positivity (151.5 cases per 100,000): City of Richmond

SINCE THE PANDEMIC’S START

  • 1,009,993: Total of COVID-19 cases
  • 40,038 hospitalizations

IN THE HOSPITAL

Today’s count of Virginians receiving care in a medical facility:

  • 1,430 suspected and confirmed patients with COVID-19
  • 336 people in intensive care
  • 185 requiring ventilators
  • 1,997 open beds for COVID-19 patients
  • 427 available ICU beds

SENIORS AND COVID-19

1 in 100 older Americans have succumbed to COVID-19 during the pandemic nationally, according to the New York Times. Here’s an accounting of deaths from COVID-19 in older Virginians.

  • 15,055 Total COVID-19 deaths in the commonwealth, all ages
  • Ages 60-69: 2,696, (17.9% of total)
  • Ages 70-79: 3,863 (25.7%)
  • Ages 80 and older: 6,353 (42.2%)
  • 85.8% of deaths in Virginia from COVID-19 are among those ages 60 and older.
  • 75% of deaths nationally from COVID-19 are among those ages 65 and older.

SHARE OF POPULATION

  • 22% of U.S. population is older than 60.
  • 19.8% of Virginians are estimated to be 60 and older.