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Coronavirus Cases Still Rising in Arlington Amid Renewed Focus on Masks

(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Earlier this summer, new coronavirus cases were reaching new lows. Now cases remain on the rise across the county, Commonwealth and the country.

In Arlington today another 18 cases were reported, bringing the seven-day trailing average up to 16 cases per day, the highest point since May 5.

Thanks to vaccinations, serious complications from Covid remain at relatively low levels. Over the past two months, two Covid-related deaths and 20 new hospitalizations have been reported in Arlington.

But the more contagious Delta variant of the virus is in some cases infecting even those who have been fully vaccinated. A new metric published by the Virginia Dept. of Health reports 1,377 known “breakthrough” cases, resulting in 114 hospitalizations and 37 deaths.

“Over 99% of COVID-19 cases in Virginia have occurred in people who were not fully vaccinated,” State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver was quoted as saying in a county press release Tuesday. “I continue to encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated to do so.”

Arlington’s health department has now administered more than 150,000 vaccine doses, the press release notes.

“As of Monday (July 26), the Arlington County Public Health Division has given more than 150,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses!” the county said. “Overall in Arlington, a total of 264,500 doses have been administered and 132,000+ people are fully vaccinated. The vaccines are free, safe and still the best protection against COVID-19.”

As cases rise, talk of mask and vaccine-related requirements have heated up in recent days.

Students at Montgomery County and Fairfax County public schools will be required to wear masks inside schools this fall regardless of vaccination status, the school systems announced this week. Arlington Public Schools has yet to make a formal announcement of its mask policy for the fall; Virginia is strongly recommending that all elementary school students, teachers and staff wear masks.

President Biden is expected to announce tomorrow that all federal employees must be vaccinated or face “repeated testing mandates,” the Washington Post reports. Fairfax County is also mulling a vaccination requirement for its municipal employees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, updated its mask guidance yesterday to recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings where prevalence of the virus is elevated. There is some disagreement among experts as to whether the mask guidance will make a substantial difference in combating the spread of the virus, in part because many are likely to ignore the guidance.

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