Virginia COVID-19 March 20 update: Over 1,500 new cases, nearly 3M vaccine doses administered, positivity rate at 5.5%

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Health is reporting 1,563 new cases along with 12 new deaths related to COVID-19 Saturday. The percent positivity rate in the commonwealth is down to 5.5%.

As of Saturday morning, March 20, Virginia has an overall number of 603,745 coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak. Of the overall cases reported, 473,832 have been confirmed by testing. 129,913 are probable cases, in which a patient who shows symptoms is diagnosed without testing.

Statewide numbers

  • New cases: (+1,563 603745 total)
  • New deaths (+12, 10,104 total), major recent input of past death certificates into the state’s system, but that’s slowed
  • Current hospitalizations (+47, 978 total ), trending down overall
  • Testing (5.5% 7-day average of positive tests), trending down since early January, testing down (about 20K per day on average, was around 35K per day in January)
  • Doses administered (2,9,40,103 total doses, 45,558 per day on average1,075,770 fully vaccinated22.7% with at least one dose 
  • Doses distributed (3,129,995 total), 100.1% first doses administered and 83.8% second doses administered,

When it comes to classifying COVID-19 deaths, the case has to meet one of the three criteria:

  1. During the case or outbreak investigation, the case investigator determined that the patient passed away due to COVID-19. This may occur through medical record review, talking with the patient’s healthcare provider, or talking with their family.
  2. VDH receives a death certificate that matches a known case of COVID-19 and either:
    1. The death certificate specifically lists COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2, or
    2. The death certificate lists a directly related cause of death (examples include acute respiratory distress syndrome, viral pneumonia, and hypoxic respiratory failure), the death occurred within 60 days of the patient becoming sick, and there’s no evidence of recovery between illness onset and death.
  3. VDH receives a death certificate that does not match a known case of COVID-19 and the death certificate specifically lists COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 as a direct or contributing cause of death. These situations are entered as a new case that resulted in death.

If a person for example dies in a car crash, shooting, etc. and they were found to also be infected with COVID-19, VDH does not count that as a COVID-19 death.

For more on how VDH classifies COVID-19 deaths, click here.

More opportunities for vaccines

Virginia pharmacies in the federal retail pharmacy program are now offering vaccines in Virginia to people in Phase 1b who are 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, as well as frontline essential workers, including:

  • Police, Fire, and Hazmat
  • Corrections and homeless shelters
  • Food and Agriculture (including veterinarians)
  • Manufacturing
  • Grocery stores (including farmers’ market food vendors)
  • Public transit (including rideshare drivers)
  • Mail carriers (USPS and private)
  • Officials needed to maintain continuity of government (including judges and public facing judicial workers)
  • Clergy/faith leaders
  • Janitorial/cleaning

The federal program shots are in addition to Virginia’s weekly allotment distributed through local health departments (that’s currently around 190,000 first doses).

The majority of retail pharmacy partners in Virginia have been using the state’s pre-registration list and contacting people based on that sign-up. However CVS has elected to stay with its own in-house scheduling system for vaccine appointments.

If you meet the current eligibility requirements, visit to make an appointment, where available.

Mass vaccination sites like one in Portsmouth (and soon to be Norfolk and Suffolk) are also using the state’s pre-registration list to vaccinate thousands. If you’re eligible you’ll be contacted by the health department.

You can read all of WAVY’s vaccine stories and resources here.

Have a question about vaccines and more? Visit our Dose of Clarity page for FAQs.

Local Cases

Accomack: 2,682 cases, 194 hospitalized, 37 deaths (+5 cases, +1 hospitalized)
Chesapeake: 19087 cases, 884 hospitalized, 264 deaths (+45 cases, +1 hospitalized)
Franklin: 1,036 cases, 52 hospitalized, 28 deaths (+5 cases)
Gloucester: 1,994 cases, 54 hospitalized, 45 deaths (+6 cases)
Hampton: 9183 cases, 320 hospitalized, 145 deaths (+27 cases)
Isle of Wight: 2,812 cases, 124 hospitalized, 58 deaths (+16 cases, +1 hospitalized, +1 death)
James City County: 4,085 cases, 136 hospitalized, 69 deaths (+3 cases, +1 hospitalized)
Mathews: 564 cases, 20 hospitalized, 12 deaths (no change)
Newport News: 12,243 cases, 340 hospitalized, 202 deaths (+42 cases, +1 hospitalized)
Norfolk: 15,657 cases, 865 hospitalized, 228 deaths (+41 cases, -1 hospitalized, +1 death)
Northampton: 731 cases, 75 hospitalized, 34 deaths (+1 hospitalized)   
Poquoson: 772 cases, 20 hospitalized, 16 deaths (+5 cases)
Portsmouth: 8,119 cases, 614 hospitalized, 161 deaths (+33 cases, +2 hospitalized, – 1 death)
Southampton: 1,883 cases, 50 hospitalized, 52 deaths (+2 cases)  
Suffolk: 7,199 cases, 411 hospitalized, 173 deaths (+24 cases, +1 hospitalized)
Virginia Beach: 32,303 cases, 1,370 hospitalized, 358 deaths (+187 cases, +2 hospitalized, +2 deaths)
Williamsburg: 561 cases, 24 hospitalized, 11 deaths (+2 cases)
York: 3,323 cases, 56 hospitalized, 50 deaths (+18 cases)

Overall, Hampton Roads and the Tidewater region reported a total of 461 cases Saturday, which is 29% of the daily increase statewide.

Key local metrics

  • 461 new cases
  • 4 new deaths
  • +11 hospitalized (273 total), trending down but still high

According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, 978 residents in Virginia are currently hospitalized due to the virus. That number is a combination of confirmed positive COVID-19 patients and hospitalized patients whose COVID-19 test results are still pending.

Click here to view more coronavirus data from the Virginia Department of Health.

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