Omicron credited with rapid rise in Virginia COVID-19 death count

The vast majority of these death happened in January

ROANOKE, Va. – If you’re looking at Virginia’s COVID-19 numbers, you’ll see a stark jump in the number of deaths.

In the last three days, Virginia added 451 deaths. In the prior three days, that number was only 84.

The Virginia Department of Health addressed this jump on Friday, citing the Omicron surge as the reason for this drastic increase.

“Those deaths will also appear on the VDH Localities dashboard, but since Localities shows deaths by date of report, rather than by date of death, that dashboard should not be used to evaluate any trend in the pattern of deaths over time,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene. “As noted above, most of the deaths that appear on the Localities dashboard this week actually occurred in January and earlier, so please use the Cases dashboard for looking at patterns and trends.”

Ninety-two percent of the deaths that will be added in the coming days happened last month.

VDH gave three primary reasons for large increases in death count:

  • The surge in cases reported due to the Omicron variant.
  • The natural delay between onset of illness to death.
  • The time it takes for the National Center of Health Statistics to review and assign appropriate codes to Virginia death certificates before they are sent back to VDH for inclusion in the Supplemental COVID-19 Death Certificate Surveillance initiative.

VDH expects to continue reporting heightened death numbers as certified death certificates continue to be reported and the department continues to receive new death certificates for the deaths that occurred in January 2022 and those that will occur subsequently over the next few weeks and months ahead until the Omicron surge dissipates.

VDH advises that death trends should only be evaluated when viewing the data on the below dashboard by “date of death,” not by “date of report.”