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More than 4,500 confirmed positive for COVID-19, but Virginia lags in testing

RICHMOND — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia rose to 4,509 Friday, up from 2,878 Monday, with reported deaths up to 121, an increase of 12 from the day before.

The Virginia Department of Health reported that it had received results from 35,459 COVID-19 tests. While lack of access to testing has been an issue nationally, Virginia ranks 24th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in the total number of tests it has performed, according to data gathered by the COVID Tracking Project. Because it is one of the more populous states, Virginia has ranked toward the bottom in testing rates per person.

Currently, the state receives between 2,500 and 4,000 test results each day from labs that can take from 24 hours to a week to process, according to state Secretary for Health and Human Resources Dan Carey.

“Our No. 1 job is to increase the capacity and the rapidity of testing,” Carey said at a briefing Friday.

He added that the state had received 15 testing devices that can return results in 15 minutes from the federal government but that wasn’t nearly enough to bring testing to where it needs to be. The state is now working with a consulting firm to help determine how Virginia can learn from other states that have expanded testing more successfully, Carey said.

“How can Virginia be the leader in testing?” he asked. “We don’t know those answers, but we are aggressively seeking those answers.”

Without widespread testing, it’s impossible to know how many people in Virginia are infected with the coronavirus. Significant delays in the state’s reporting of the information it possesses, including the number of deaths, make it difficult to know how Virginia is faring in its response to the pandemic.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association updates its COVID-19 dashboard daily, showing how the number of people hospitalized and placed in intensive care for confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases changes from day to day.

As of Friday, 1,238 people were hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, with 457 of those placed in intensive care units and 287 put on a ventilator.

Neither the state nor the hospital dashboard publicly tracks how many people have recovered from the virus.


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