Press Club

One Year Ago: The First Reported Coronavirus Case in Arlington

It was one year ago today that the first “presumptive” coronavirus case in Arlington was announced by county and state officials.

Though the first Northern Virginia coronavirus patient had started feeling symptoms three weeks prior, on Feb. 16, this first Arlington case was a mental turning point, making the pandemic feel close to home for county residents. Tens of thousands read ARLnow’s article that day, making it the third-most-read story of the year.

The news also came amid a major stock market selloff, adding to the feeling of impending doom.

From our article on March 9, 2020:

Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Health have announced the county’s first “presumptive” case of coronavirus.

An individual in their 60s who recently returned from international travel tested positive for the rapidly-spreading disease, the county said.

“The positive result returned Sunday evening is considered presumptive, pending confirmation by the CDC,” Arlington County said in a press release. “The individual had limited contact with others while ill and the risk to the general Arlington community remains low.” […]

Arlington Public Schools said in an email to parents Monday afternoon that schools are staying open for now, despite the first local case.

“At this time, our schools remain open and there are no changes to school-sponsored activities,” APS said. “Any change to normal operating status would be based on a recommendation from health officials.”

Arlington Transit, meanwhile, has announced that it distributing hand sanitizer to employees and will now “deep clean and sanitize all buses thoroughly at the end of each night by using approved disinfectant to wipe down all stanchions, hand rails, passenger seats, windows and all components in the driver’s area.”

Just four days later, as the country started to lock down, grocery stores and pharmacies in Arlington were picked clean of many essentials and Arlington Public Schools announced it would close — a closure that would last nearly a year, until the recent return to schools on hybrid, two-day-a-week basis.

A year after that first case, however, there is hopeful news. As reports of new cases remain well below the previous winter peaks, the seven-day trailing rate of daily vaccinations in Arlington reached a new high today: an average of 1,310 doses per day.

Photo (top) by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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