This morning the Virginia Department of Health reports 288,309 total confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 4,470 total deaths related to the virus in the Commonwealth.
The seven-day positivity rate, PCR only, for the Commonwealth is 11.2%.
Norfolk is credited with 7,503 total cases and 100 deaths with an 11.9% seven-day positivity rate, PCR only.
According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, 2,361 residents in Virginia are currently hospitalized due to the virus. Over 26,900 confirmed COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized and discharged.
As a reminder, last week Governor Ralph Northam enacted new protective measures due to the surges of COVID-19 in Virginia. The new restrictions started Monday, December 14, at 12:01 a.m., and will last through January.
The new restrictions include:
- Modified “stay-at-home order: The modified “stay-at-home” order is for the hours between midnight and 5 a.m. That will exclude those going to work and other essential travel (buying food, getting medical attention, etc.).
- Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 10 individuals. This includes outdoor and indoor settings. Gatherings include parties, celebrations, and other social events, outdoors and indoors. The rule does not apply to places of work, religious services, and schools.
- Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over must wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This DOES include educational settings, Houses of Worship, places of employment, and stores. Masks will also be required outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
- Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide physical distancing guidelines, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. Violations are now enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.
- Recreational sports: There is a 25-person-per-field limit for indoor recreational sports and two guests per player for outdoor sports. The Governor encourages schools to set up streams online and move sports outside if possible.
For more information on this, view this week's Incident Action Plan.
Vaccine update: Last Sunday, the US Centers and Disease Control and Prevention accepted the recommendation of the agency’s vaccine advisory committee, allowing Pfizer’s vaccine to be distributed and administered in the U.S. The CDC advisory group has recommended the first founds of the Pfizer vaccine be provided to hospitals and health care workers, and residents of long-term care facilities. The CDC stated that both groups are considered an "exceptionally high risk."
The CDC is considering a four-phase plan to distribute vaccines. Phase 1a would be followed by Phases 1b and 1c, which could include essential workers at high risk of infection, other emergency personnel, and people with underlying conditions at a higher risk of Covid-19 complications and death.
To learn more about how Virginia is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine, the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Health Equity, is holding a virtual COVID-19 vaccine community conversation. Tonight's discussion is surrounding the African American community. Tomorrow, December 16, the dialogue is surrounding the community for Persons with Disabilities. Then on Thursday, December 17, the discussion covers the Rural community. For more information or to register for a conversation, visit VDH.virginia.gov
Understandingly, there are many questions or concerns regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. To help ease the worries and answer pressing questions, the Virginia Department of Health is holding a virtual Public Town Hall tomorrow night. The Town Hall is appropriately titled, Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccine: You Ask. The Experts Answer. This is an opportunity where community and medical leaders answer your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Town Hall will take place tomorrow night, December 16, at 7 p.m. For more information, visit VDH.Virginia.gov.
Don’t forget it's Flu season. The CDC and VDH both recommend receiving a seasonal flu vaccination. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the city will not have on-site flu shot clinics this year for city employees. We encourage all employees to get a flu shot this season from their primary care physician or any participating pharmacy. Click here to find flu vaccine locations.
Are you ready to give the gift of life? There are plenty of opportunities for you to give blood this month. Be an American Red Cross Hero by donating blood to help save lives. Click here to view all blood donation opportunities for December in Norfolk. If you don’t live in Norfolk, don’t worry, you can search by city and find blood drives near you.
Lastly, it looks like we will miss the snow this week, as a cold front will move in on Wednesday and provide lots of snow to the northeast region. No snow around here, but Wednesday, we will see lots of rain. Highs today will be in the mid-40s. Tomorrow will be a bit warmer, with highs in the mid-50s. For the remainder of the week, temps will hover around the mid-to-upper 40s.
I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Holiday. Be safe and have a great week, everyone.
Daniel Hudson, Deputy EM Coordinator
Norfolk Emergency Preparedness & Response