Arlington, VA

Arlington’s rate of new coronavirus cases increased slightly over the weekend, but kept within a range held since early September.

Fifty-four new cases have been reported since Friday, bringing the trailing seven-day average of new daily cases to 16. That is within the 12 to 18 cases per day range that has held since Sept. 4.

The county’s test positivity rate has dropped slightly, to 3.0%. That compares to 4.7% statewide.

Virginia’s test positivity rate has steadily dropped from 7.9% at the beginning of the month. New daily cases statewide have fallen as well, from an average of around 1,000 per day on Sept. 1 to just under 800 per day now.

No new hospitalizations were reported in Arlington over the weekend, and the seven-day trailing total of new hospitalizations is currently five. One new COVID-related death was reported over the weekend, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

As of today Virginia, is second only to Georgia in terms of declining spread of the virus, according to one popular tracker. In all, fifteen states and the District of Columbia are seeing declining spread, but 35 states are seeing a rising epidemic, according to Rt.live.

While our stats may look encouraging, experts are worried that we may be at the start of a rising wave in new infections nationally.

“Almost half the US is reporting increased numbers of new Covid-19 cases as health experts warn of a potential coronavirus surge in the fall and winter,” CNN reported yesterday. “As of Sunday, the number of new coronavirus cases has increased by at least 10% or more compared to the week before in 21 states, most of them in the West, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.”

Other than the health of those affected, perhaps the biggest societal concern about rising cases is what that might mean for schools.

Last week Arlington Public Schools announced a timeline for at least partially resuming in-person classes, for all students who opt to return to school, by early December. But that’s only if health metrics stay positive.

“The plan is based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Education, as well as regional and local health metrics in consultation with the Arlington County Public Health Division,” APS said.

The school system also introduced a COVID-19 dashboard for tracking such metrics.

More from APS:

APS will begin with Level 1 Return for a small group of students with disabilities in mid- to late-October, followed by Level 2 Return for English Learners, students with disabilities, PreK-3rd grade students, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) students enrolled in the Career Center, in early- to mid-November. Level 3 Return, for all students who select hybrid, in-person learning, is planned for December, depending on health and operational metrics. Ability to proceed to each Level is based on the COVID-19 dashboard. If community health conditions worsen, APS, in collaboration with the Arlington County Public Health Department, will pause at the current level, reverse, or suspend all in-person instruction.

While many parents (and school employees) are concerned about the health impacts of a return to classrooms, other parents are pushing for an earlier resumption of in-person learning.

A petition called “Ready to go back: Arlington Parents Deserve A Real Choice From APS,” which calls for “a return to in-person instruction for families who choose to send their children into school buildings,” has gathered more than 900 signatures as of Monday morning.

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