RICHMOND, Va. -- As the new year began and 2020 came to a close, Virginia was seeing some of the highest numbers of new positive COVID cases daily reported daily since the pandemic began, according to health officials.
"That concerns me, because that means that the number of new cases that we’re seeing every day is just higher and higher and higher," said Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director for the Henrico County and Richmond City Health Districts.
Dr. Viray described the uptick in cases seen throughout the holiday season as "stacking increases on top of each other."
"Even before we've come down from this increase, we're seeing another increase," she said.
As of Monday, the VDH reported more than 3,700 new cases in the state. And as positive cases skyrocketed, the percentage of tests coming back positive, reported Monday at 15.6% was also on the rise.
With that percent positivity at a record high, Dr. Viray worried that may indicate that the number of positive cases were even high than the numbers showed.
"How percent positivity feeds into that, for me, is that it tells me that -- we’re probably not catching everybody," said Dr. Viray. "We're probably not seeing the whole of the pie right now -- because our percent positivity is increasing. So, we have higher numbers so we might not be seeing the whole pie."
Dr. Viray said with the expected spike around the holidays, she wasn't surprised by the uptick, but concerned.
"Every time we see increases, and we are already seeing this, we start to see increases into our long-term care facilities, in our congregate facilities, in our jails," Viray said.
She added that as cases increase, the burden for hospitals gets heavier.
"When you have a lot of folks coming in for COVID, and very severe COVID even, that also means that you don’t have capacity for all the things that happen in normal life," Viray said. "We still have people who have heart attacks, we still have people with strokes, we still have motorcycle accidents. We need to make sure that we have enough healthcare capacity to take care of the normal things that were happening before COVID that are still very serious."
Dr. Viray advised everyone to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and take safety guidelines seriously. She said those who gathered over the holidays could go a step further.
"If over this holiday season, if over New Years, if you participated in a social gathering, if you went out and saw people that are not part of your household, if you had to travel for the holidays -- avoid non-essential travel outside your house right now, consider getting tested," said Viray.