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COVID-19 in Virginia: LIVE updates for Thursday, December 31

Posted at 9:24 AM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 12:42:27-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- In an effort to provide accurate, easy-to-read information on the on-going COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on our community, WTVR.com will update this post with the day's local coronavirus headlines and statistics.

COVID-19 IN VIRGINIA (Scroll to bottom for U.S. stats)

Positive COVID-19 Cases: 349,584 (Up 5,289 from Wednesday)
People Hospitalized: 18,041 (Up 131 from Wednesday)
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: 5,032 (Up 48 from Wednesday)
Total Tests: 5,096,024 (Up 48,074 from Wednesday)
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 13.3% (Up from 12.5% Wednesday)
People Vaccinated with at least One Dose: 54,295 (Up 7,243 since Wednesday)
People Fully Vaccinated: 0

Click here for complete city/county-by-county breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Virginia

NOTE: This data is provided from the Virginia Department of Health daily at 10 a.m. Officials said their cutoff for data is 5 p.m. the previous day. So your local health department may have issued an alert about a case before it is added to the statewide tally released the following day. Get the latest charts and updated numbers from VDH here. *

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 LOCAL HEADLINES

New Year's Eve could be 'perfect storm' for spreading COVID-19, area health experts warn
Local health leaders are warning Central Virginians that a typical New Year's Eve celebration is a “perfect storm” for spreading COVID-19, at a time when cases and hospitalizations are spiking. On the final day of 2020, more than 5,200 new cases were reported statewide and the Commonwealth reached 5,000 virus-related deaths. Read more.

New Year's Eve goes virtual; CDC offers ideas and guidance
The CDC has guidance for Americans to celebrate safely, and include ideas like virtual concerts, having dinner over video chat, or having a dance party with the people in the house. Read more.

250+ additional COVID-19 patients discharged in Virginia; hospitalizations tick up
More than 250 additional COVID-19 patients have been discharged from Virginia hospitals in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. Read more.

Where to get a free COVID-19 test next week in Richmond, Henrico
Three COVID-19 community testing events have been scheduled for the week of January 4 in the City of Richmond and Henrico County. Read more.

Woman 'waiting and praying' gets vaccinated at Virginia long-term care facility
"I've been in solitary confinement in this room," 94-year-old Marjorie Adams said via a Zoom call from her room on Wednesday afternoon. "We had to be isolated, I appreciate all that I know." Read more.

Nurses split on COVID-19 vaccine: 'It may make me change my career'
Healthcare personnel and long-term care residents are listed under Phase 1a in the Virginia COVID-19 Vaccination Prioritization Guidance. Although they take priority right now, not everyone is willing to roll up their sleeve. Read more.

COVID-19 variant found in California, health officials say
The variant is no more dangerous than the original virus, but is more easily transmitted, according to experts. Read more.

Microbiologists say it's not really necessary to constantly disinfect surfaces
“You actually go into hospitals where they're treating COVID-19 patients and you check the surfaces, and there's no infectious virus, none,” said Dr. Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Read more.

COVID concerns kept her from returning to work, now her unemployment benefits have stopped
There are approximately 10,000 people who have refused to go back to work due to concerns about COVID-19 who are currently waiting for the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) to make a determination about whether or not they should receive benefits. Among them, a Virginia woman who works at a grocery store and is over the age of 80. Read more.

Virginia hospital workers strained due to post-holiday spike in COVID cases
Just days after some families and friends gather for Christmas, Dr. David Lanning, VCU Medical Center Interim Chief Medical Officer, said they are seeing a post-holiday spike in coronavirus cases. Read more.

Long-term care facilities in Virginia begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine
Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination program expanded this week as residents and staff of long-term care and assisted living facilities started to receive the vaccine on Monday. Read more.

RVA health officials urge those who gathered for holidays to get tested
The data from holidays during the pandemic are clear, according to health officials: local COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spike following holidays where families and friends gather in large numbers. With the expected rise in cases, health professionals are urging anyone who traveled or extended their immediate social circle during Christmas and into New Years to get a COVID test as soon as possible. Read more.

RVA business owners react to COVID-19 relief package
As millions of Americans lost their unemployment benefits over the weekend, President Trump signed a second coronavirus stimulus bill into law to help the struggling economy. Read more.

Free drive-thru 'large-scale' COVID testing Tuesday at the Diamond
The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts plans to hold a free drive-thru COVID-19 community testing event at the Diamond on Tuesday. The "large-scale" event is set to last from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. at 3001 N Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Read more.

Fauci says worst is probably still ahead; 80-85% needed for herd immunity
Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country is at a critical place during the pandemic, and that the worst is probably still ahead. Despite warnings about traveling and getting together with people outside a household, Fauci feared another surge on top of the current surge following the Christmas holiday. Read more.

US to require travelers from UK to post negative COVID-19 test
The United States is going to require airline travelers from Britain to get a negative COVID-19 test first. Read more.

65+ more COVID-19 patients discharged in Virginia; hospitalizations increase
More than 65 additional COVID-19 patients have been discharged from Virginia hospitals in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. Read more.

New COVID-19 outbreak reported in Virginia Sunday
Health officials are investigating 1,888 outbreaks of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, according to Virginia Department of Health (VDH) data. More than 43,200 cases in the Commonwealth are linked to outbreaks. Read more.

Number of global COVID-19 cases tops 80 million
Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University reported the mark Saturday morning after 472,000 cases were recorded Christmas Day. The number of deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic across the globe stands at 1.75 million. Read more.

As Virginia sets new COVID infection record, ER doc says holidays will test Virginians
A Central Virginia emergency room physician has issued a warning ahead of Christmas and New Year's Eve following a surge of coronavirus cases after Thanksgiving. Read more.

Study: COVID-19 antibodies may protect from reinfection for 6 months
A recent study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that antibodies might protect people who've already had COVID-19 from being reinfected for at least six months. Read more.

CDC gives 'OK' to begin giving Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have given the green light to begin administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Americans age 18 and older. Inoculations using Moderna’s version of the vaccine could begin Monday morning. Read more.

20 COVID-19 outbreaks reported in Virginia Sunday
Health officials are investigating 1,810 outbreaks of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, according to Virginia Department of Health (VDH) data. More than 41,200 cases in the Commonwealth are linked to outbreaks. Read more.CDC advisory panel recommends older Americans, essential workers to be next in line for vaccine
This second wave of people comes after the first tier of health care workers and long-term care facility residents that was agreed to by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices earlier this month should get the first of the vaccine shots that started last week. Read more.

2nd COVID-19 vaccine authorized in US ships out
Initial shipments of the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S. have left a factory as the nation works to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control. Read more.

6 severe allergy cases from more than 250K shots
The half-dozen cases of allergic reaction were reported as of Friday night, and included one person with a history of vaccination reactions. Read more.

General sorry for 'miscommunication' over vaccine shipments
An Army general in charge of COVID-19 vaccines apologized Saturday for “miscommunication” with states on the number of early doses delivered. Read more.

US clears second COVID-19 vaccine, adding Moderna shots to the fight against a worsening pandemic
Moderna’s vaccine has been hailed as a medical breakthrough. The vaccine has been considered 94.1% effective against the virus. Read more.

Virginia to initially receive fewer COVID-19 vaccine doses than anticipated
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Friday that it will receive fewer doses of COVID-19 vaccines than anticipated by the end of the year. Read more.

Governor donates plasma to help those struggling with COVID-19
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam donated his plasma Friday. As a COVID survivor, the governor's plasma contains COVID-19 antibodies that could help treat others with the virus. Read more.

Maryland, Virginia donate vaccine doses to Washington, DC
D.C. health officials have complained for weeks that the initial allotment formula followed by the Centers for Diseason Control and Prevention provided Washington with just under 7,000 doses — less than one-tenth of what would be needed for local health care workers. Read more.

US surpasses 17 million COVID-19 cases, records 1 million new cases in less than week
The country is averaging more than 200,000 new cases of the virus every day, putting it on pace to record 1 million cases every five days, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Read more.

Claims for unemployment rise again as virus spread increases
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose again last week to 885,000 as a resurgence of coronavirus cases threatens the economy’s recovery from its springtime collapse. Read more.

COVID vaccine arrives at VCU: 'I miss my family, I miss my mom'
Healthcare workers at VCU Medical Center rolled up their sleeves Wednesday to get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Read more.

State addresses COVID vaccine concerns from Black Virginians
Hundreds of people gathered on a Zoom call Tuesday night to learn more about how Virginia health leaders will distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in the Black community. Read more.

Virginia's healthcare workers start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations
Healthcare workers in Virginia started receiving the state's first doses of a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, kicking off what is likely to be a months long process of inoculating people from the potentially deadly disease. Read more.

First Americans to receive initial doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday
Following Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA and a formal recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the weekend, the first Americans are slated to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Read more.

COVID-19 vaccine shipments begin in historic US effort
The first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the United States are headed from Michigan to distribution centers across the country. Read more.

Virginia senior keen to take COVID vaccine to 'feel safer' and 'not be so isolated'
Joan Kerby lives in the Lakewood Retirement Community in Henrico, and hopes to get vaccinated soon.
"I would feel safer if I went into a grocery store, safer buying gas for the car, being out among people," she said. Read more.

Northam: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in 'next 24 to 48 hours'
Gov. Ralph Northam said Virginia plans to "immediately begin" distributing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine once it arrives in the Commonwealth over the "next 24 to 48 hours." Read more.

US preps for 1st Pfizer vaccine shipment after FDA approval
Initial doses are scarce and rationed as the U.S. joins Britain and several other countries in scrambling to vaccinate as many people as possible ahead of winter. Read more.

US leads world with 16 million cases of virus
Cases of the virus have been rising across much of the U.S., causing record death totals in recent days. Read more.

US allows emergency COVID-19 vaccine
The U.S. has given the final go-ahead to the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine, launching emergency vaccinations in a bid to end the pandemic. Read more.

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COMPLETE COVERAGE: COVID-19 HEADLINES (App users, click here for a complete list.)

LATEST COVID-19 U.S. AND WORLDWIDE STATS