‘That’s someone’s mother, father...’: Virginia surpasses 15,000 COVID-19 deaths

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 3:50 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2021 at 6:56 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia passed a grim milestone overnight as the state department of health reported more than 15,000 people in the Commonwealth have died from COVID-19.

It is a staggering number, but state health leaders said it is essential to continue to talk about prevention measures as the pandemic throws more curveballs.

“The best thing we can do to really slow that down is make sure to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Dr. Brandy Darby, a Veterinary Epidemiologist at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

According to data published Wednesday morning by VDH, roughly 66% of Virginians are fully vaccinated at this point, but it’s been a work in progress.

“Everybody loved him; they did,” said Deborah Vuturo. “They would say your dad is so great.”

In April of last year, Vuturo lost her father, Robert Accomando, to COVID-19. Accomando was one of 5,000 Virginians who died in 2020 before a vaccine was available.

2021 has not been kind either. Since Jan. 1, more than 10,000 Virginians have died from COVID-19.

However, there could be several possible factors for the increase:

  • Restrictions were in place in 2020 for a period of time
  • The vaccine wasn’t widely available until late spring
  • Several new variants emerged in 2021, including the Delta - which some studies have shown to be more severe than others

“It’s important that we all remember that every one of those numbers; they’re not a number on a dashboard, that is someone’s mother, father, uncle, sister brother,” Darby said.

NBC12 has covered the stories of these men and women. Whether that be the smiling face behind the wheel of a GRTC bus like John Thrower or Syvie Robertson, a 51-year-old Hopewell nurse who spent the last months of her life caring for COVID-19 patients before contracting the coronavirus herself.

“We will miss her. We will always love her,” said Robertson’s mother, Mona Terry.

However, Virginia (15,025 deaths) has fared better than some surrounding states, according to CDC data published on Dec.13.

  • Pennsylvania: 34,618
  • New Jersey: 28,589
  • Delaware: 2,218
  • Maryland: 11,255
  • West Virginia: 5,107
  • North Carolina: 19,010
  • South Carolina: 14,405

However, in Virginia, VDH acknowledged breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated Virginians. Of those vaccinated, .02% have died. That low percentage is another reason health leaders continue to push for vaccinations.

“So we don’t have to keep seeing these deaths,” Darby said. “I think we’d all want to keep our loved ones around for as long as we can.”

For more information on vaccination status and deaths in Virginia, click here.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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