UVA COVID modeling predicts potential spike in cases this fall in Virginia

Posted at 3:17 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 16:47:47-04

NORFOLK, Va. - COVID-19 modeling from the University of Virginia predicts a potential spike in cases in Virginia in September.

"What the model is trying to tell us is that if we don't change things, this is the potential path we could be on," said Bryan Lewis, an associate research professor at UVA's Biocomplexity Institute.

The model says the spike could be in mid-September and predicts a similar spike to the one the Commonwealth saw last January. UVA researchers present the data to the Virginia Department of Health to help them anticipate what to expect.

"The fact is that Delta is just that much more powerful. It's causing some pretty significant growth here in the near term," said Lewis.

The modeling is good at picking up trends, but it is hard to predict exactly when the top of the curve would happen, Lewis said. The model says mid-September, but Lewis thinks it could be before that.

"We never know what's going to happen in terms of people's behavior, how the weather is going to affect things, whether there's going to be some policy changes that people adhere to, or if businesses change the way that they're doing some of their activities," said Lewis.

The modeling does take vaccination rates into effect, showing the vaccines are effective in slowing the spread of the virus. VDH data says about 65% of adults are fully vaccinated, but the modeling says enough people remain unvaccinated to fuel a resurgence.

Other states, like Florida, are seeing serious surges right now.

Related: Va. reports nearly 4K new COVID-19 cases since Friday as percent of positive tests goes up in all local health districts

"In Virginia, we've been lucky with it being a little bit behind the curve, so we can learn from what the other states' experiences are, and hopefully we can take it to heart and not go all the way up like Florida currently is in terms of cases," said Lewis.

Health experts say we're not out of the woods from the pandemic.

"I think the key message of this update is that the potential for something as bad as we saw in January exists out there," said Lewis.

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