“We’re still concerned about hospitalizations and deaths (particularly among the unvaccinated), since they tend to lag behind cases,” Viray said.
If the trajectory of cases continues and new variables aren’t introduced, the Richmond area could see cases diminish through February, Viray added.
She noted that the timing of the peak resembles the wave that hit Virginia in early 2021. Cases peaked in Richmond on Jan. 19, 2021, and declined until early March, when they plateaued.
In terms of reported cases, omicron obliterated previous variants. In the January peak, the city reached an average of 139 new cases per day. This time, case counts are three and a half times higher.
If this is the peak, the omicron surge has stalled sooner than previous variants. It took the Richmond area about two months of climbing to reach its January 2021 peak. This surge has lasted about half as long.
There’s one caveat with the omicron variant: cases aren’t as good an indicator as they once were. Because many people are taking at-home tests and not reporting their results, and because tests have been scarce in recent weeks, many positive tests may have gone undocumented.
The current positivity rate, conducted among PCR tests only, remains very high, currently 36%.