The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released new COVID-19 infection rate numbers today, indicating a decrease in virus spread because of the agency’s emphasis on digital screening and telehealth services.

At the Veterans Health Administration, employee COVID-19 infection rates are below one percent, which VA states is “much lower” than other healthcare systems. VA’s mobile symptom screening tool, and the massive jump in telehealth services were credited for mitigating the spread of the virus.

During the pandemic, VA documented a tenfold increase in its telehealth capacity – to handle up to 35,000 appointments per day.

“Our testing policies and procedures have helped to significantly limit the spread of the virus within our medical facilities, while universal COVID-19 testing for patients and staff as well as other safeguards at VA’s community living centers and spinal cord injury units, has minimized the COVID-19 exposure risk for some of our most vulnerable patient populations,” Secretary Robert Wilkie said.

On average, VA is testing 6,300 people for coronavirus each day and has tested more than 576,000 individuals since the pandemic began. Of the veterans tested, 43,276 individuals were diagnosed with COVID-19, but 37,293 (or about 86 percent) or those have been discharged or are 14 days past their last positive test. The VA healthcare system is currently accommodating 3,195 COVID-19 cases, with just over 400 individuals receiving inpatient care.

VA is providing COVID-19 tests to veterans involved in the agency healthcare program with no copay.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.