Monday, October 12, 2020

Coronavirus deaths among VA patients top 3,500 this week as number of cases slowly increases


The number of active coronavirus cases among Veterans Affairs patients continued to slowly rise in recent days as the total number of deaths from the virus among department patients rose above 3,500 this week.

As of Tuesday evening, VA reported 3,641 active cases of the virus, an increase of 7 percent in the last week and more than 21 percent in the last month. The cases are spread out across 139 department medical centers nationwide.

Active cases of the virus had dropped below 2,500 in mid-September, but have risen slowly since then. Those totals topped 6,400 in mid-July, when the outbreak within the VA patient population was at its peak.

VA officials have said they do not consider the active case counts or death totals to be accurate measures of the severity of the ongoing pandemic among their patient population. Instead, they point to hospitalization rates among patients who test positive, which have remained steady over the last few months.

As of Tuesday afternoon, department medical staff were caring for 340 inpatients with complications related to coronavirus.

On Wednesday morning, the death total among the VA patient population was 3,528. That figure is up almost 300 individuals in the last 20 days. Nationally, more than 210,000 individuals have died from complications related to the virus.

The fatality rate among VA patients who test positive for the illness is about 5.5 percent, well above the 3 percent rate for the rest of the country. But VA officials have cautioned against comparing their patient population to the rest of the country, noting the increased dangers the virus presents to individuals who are elderly and infirm, two descriptors that encompass most of the department’s medical cases.


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