Arlington, VA

For the fifth day in a row, Arlington has hit a new high point for coronavirus infections.

The Virginia Dept. of Health reported 59 new COVID-19 cases in the county overnight, bringing the seven-day trailing total to 412, or an average of 59 cases per day. That’s 10 times the level of infection at the end of June, at a local lull in the pandemic.

Arlington’s seven-day test positivity rate, meanwhile, has risen to 7.5%, above the statewide rate of 7.0%.

No new deaths nor hospitalizations were reported today, however, bringing Arlington’s seven-day hospitalization rate down to eight, from 16 two days ago.

The county’s relatively low level of hospitalizations compared to new cases can be at least partially explained by demographics: nearly two-thirds of new infections over the past two weeks have been among those under the age of 40. Younger people are generally less vulnerable to the worst virus complications.

The cumulative number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Arlington is now 5,603, 566 and 156, respectively, according to VDH. At the current rate of infection, Arlington would reach 10,000 cases in early February.

With virus cases surging in Arlington, in Virginia, in neighboring Maryland, and nationwide, officials are asking people to consider cancelling Thanksgiving travel and to rethink holiday gatherings.

“Americans should avoid travel for Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Thursday,” NBC News reported yesterday. “It was a last-minute attempt by the nation’s leading public health agency to curb what’s sure to be yet another dangerous spike in Covid-19 cases if families gather next week.”

On Wednesday, Arlington County offered a number of tips for safer Thanksgiving gatherings.

We can all make it a safer holiday season by continuing to practice the public health guidance we know slows the spread: wear a mask; stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you; and wash your hands.

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, Arlington County is encouraging everyone to take steps to make your celebration safer by following the suggestions and guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you must attend a gathering, CDC recommends bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils. Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking. Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen. Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets. Bring supplies to stay healthy including extra masks, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and tissues.

If you must have guests to your home, CDC suggests you consider a small outdoor meal with family and friends and limit the number of guests. Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together. If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows. Have guests bring their own food and drink. If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils. Provide supplies to keep everyone healthy including extra masks, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and tissues. Stock bathrooms with enough hand soap and single use towels.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days should stay home.

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