WINCHESTER — The number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the region spiked 50% in a day.
As of Tuesday evening, there were 33 cases, up from 22 on Monday, according to Dr. Colin Greene, Lord Fairfax Health District director. The district encompasses Winchester plus Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. The first Clarke County case was among the latest diagnoses, but Greene said he didn’t have the patient’s age or sex. The first local case was confirmed on March 20.
Of the first 22 local cases listed on the Virginia Department of Health website, Frederick County had 12, followed by Shenandoah County with seven and Winchester with three.
Virginia had 1,250 cases on Tuesday, with 27 deaths. Globally, there are about 855,000 cases and approximately 42,000 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.
The number of cases in Virginia is expected to peak in May, according to an estimate by Admiral Brett Girooir, U.S. Department for Health and Human Services assistant secretary of health. The estimate lists three infection scenarios.
The worst-case scenario, in which there is no social distancing or closures, is about 2.67 million infections in Virginia, which has about 8.5 million people. With moderate closures and social distancing, the estimate is nearly 402,000 infections. The best-case scenario, involving strict closures and social distancing, is about 44,500.
Greene said the estimates highlight the need for maximum social distancing and avoiding leaving home except for essential trips and exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends maintaining a six-foot distance from people when near them for an extended period of time to avoid contamination from respiratory droplets such as saliva or mucous or particles in the air.
Because the virus, for which there is no vaccine, is new, infection rates have varied. Greene said the outbreak on the Diamond Princess Cruise ship last month was informative. Of the 3,711 people aboard, 710, or 19%, contracted the virus, with nearly 2% of the infected people dying. Just under half of the infected people displayed no symptoms.
“Which is why it’s completely futile to try and identify cases and isolate them because there are cases out there that we don’t even know are there,” Greene said. “That’s why we have to stick to social distancing as our way to fight back. We have to cut off the ability of the virus to spread.”