Local Coronavirus Cases Down from Previous Highs, But Hospitalizations Rise

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) After peaking last week at just under 100 cases per day, the average rate of new coronavirus cases in Arlington has dropped by 25%.

The seven-day trailing average currently stands at 72 cases per day. Forty-nine new cases were reported Friday, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed cases in the county over the course of the pandemic to 7,710.

Arlington’s test positivity rate currently stands at 8.1%, the same rate as one week ago.

Hospitalizations, however, have risen. Fourteen new hospitalizations were reported on Wednesday alone, bringing the trailing seven-day total to 25, the highest point since late May. The current seven-day trailing total of COVID-related hospitalizations is 22, with two new hospitalizations reported in each of the past two days.

Four new coronavirus deaths in Arlington have been reported since Monday. That brings the cumulative pandemic total to 168, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Despite the recent drop in cases, county officials sounded the alarm about the level of new cases at Tuesday’s County Board meeting.

“The level of community transition is unacceptably high and has various negative impacts on how our society operates,” Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said in the County Board recessed meeting this week. “The vaccine is one way we can hopefully leave this nightmare behind us at some point.”

Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington started administering Pfizer vaccines on Thursday. and Varghese said that the vaccines will soon be more widely available.

Pfizer vaccines can be administered by CVS or Walgreens to residents of skilled nursing facilities, as early as next week, he said. Likewise, the Moderna vaccine, set for likely authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, could come to Arlington “as early as next week,” according to Varghese.

The County is waiting on a Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS, from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health, which streamlines appointments, patient monitoring and communication with patients for temporary vaccine clinics. Appointments will be needed to suppress the spread of germs in lines.

“While we’ve had plans for years for mass vaccination, the wrinkle is providing for six foot distances in those plans,” Varghese said. 

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