Graphics: A Virginia COVID-19 Update
Virginia’s most recent wave of COVID-19 cases has impacted children more severely than previous spikes. While the case rate among the general population remains far below levels from this winter, the case rate among children under 10 has surpassed what it was in January. Compared to last spring, when the coronavirus first began to spread in large numbers in Virginia, a much greater percentage of cases occurred in younger Virginians during July and August.
That pattern follows vaccination rates in the state. Younger Virginians are, in general, less likely to be vaccinated than their older counterparts, and no vaccine has yet been approved for children under 10.
Also tracking vaccination rates is the racial makeup of COVID-19 cases. Black Virginians were more likely to be infected in the past two months than any other racial group, followed by white Virginians, Latino Virginians and Asian Virginians. 1 That order is in exact reverse of vaccination rates among the groups.
Vaccination is not the only reason, however, that Black Virginians are more likely to be infected with COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, case rates have been consistently higher among Black Americans due to the economic effects of structural racism. Black Americans are more likely to work in jobs that required them to go in person. Rates of homelessness and incarceration are also higher among Black Americans, meaning many were in congregate settings that allowed COVID-19 to run rampant.
Additionally, health districts with higher vaccination rates tended to see less COVID-19 infections per capita over the past two months. 2 In the Crater Health District, which includes Petersburg, Hopewell and Dinwiddie County among other localities, less than 35% of the population was fully vaccinated on July 1. Since then, about 1% of people living in the area have been infected with COVID-19.
In Northern Virginia, the Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudoun health districts ranked in the top three spots for vaccine rates, each having more than half the population fully vaccinated on July 1. They’ve subsequently seen lowest infection rates in the state, with all three seeing less than half as much spread as the Crater district.
1. The Virginia Department of Health also collects information on cases among indigenous Virginians. That data, however, is highly volatile and so was not included in the above graphic.
2. A linear model was conducted to test the correlation between vaccination and case rates among Virginia's health districts. The r-squared value for the regression was 0.4074, and the correlation was statistically significant at the 0.1% level. What that means: there is a 99.9% chance the relationship is not random. What that doesn't mean: this does not prove that increasing vaccination rates will decrease case rates. Correlations can only show that there is a relationship between to variables, not what causes it. But, according to VDH, unvaccinated Virginians are over 12 times more likely to catch COVID-19 and over 17 times more likely to die from it than their fully vaccinated counterparts.