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NEW: Another Covid case record amid huge lines for tests

Covid cases in Arlington as of Dec. 30, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) A brief downturn in reported Covid cases in Arlington after Christmas was just that — brief.

With people returning from their holiday trips and testing locations back open, the Virginia Dept. of Health reported a new local  record today for the seven-day moving average of daily cases.

There were 633 new cases reported in Arlington today, the second-highest single day total of the pandemic, after the 687 cases reported on Christmas Day. That brought the seven-day average to 424 daily cases, a new record.

About 1.25% of the Arlington population has tested positive for Covid over the past week, a number that does not include those who are sick but testing with at-home kits or skipping getting tested altogether amid huge lines and shortages.

Arlington Public Library ran out of its latest supply of 2,000 at-home test kits within 20 minutes of beginning distribution today, while the county is advising residents getting tested at county-sponsored testing booths that they must be in line at least an hour-and-a-half before closing time.

The good news is that reports of serious illness from the current Omicron variant wave remain low in highly-vaccinated Arlington County. The seven-day moving average of new Covid-related hospitalization ticked up slightly today to around 1.5 per day.

Hospitalizations in Arlington as of Dec. 30, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Five Covid deaths were reported on Tuesday, but the state health department said those were mostly attributable to backdated reports of Arlington residents who died from Covid while out of state. Excluding those, two Covid deaths have been reported over the past week.

The county’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, continues to climb, suggesting that the increase in cases is not just due to higher levels of testing. As of today the test positivity rate was up to 16.2%, after rising every day since hitting 3.3% on Dec. 3.

Test positivity rate in Arlington as of Dec. 30, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said in a statement yesterday that the big rise in cases is “not a reason for panic.” He and other elected leaders continue to urge vaccination as a way to avoid the worst health impacts of a Covid infection.

From Northam’s statement:

The COVID case numbers are a reason for concern, but not a reason for panic. It’s important to understand why.

We have all studied the “number of cases” for many months now, but this data point means something different today, compared to this time last year.

One year ago, vaccines had just become available, so nearly no one had gotten a shot. Today, more than 14 million shots have been given in Virginia. Only nine states have given more shots, and those states are all larger than Virginia. That’s good news, and it’s thanks to a lot of hard work by Virginians.

Vaccinations are keeping people safe, even as the omicron variant spreads. Data from around the world show that if people have gotten vaccinated, and then get COVID, then symptoms are likely to be minor. That’s how the vaccines are designed to work, and it’s more good news.

As the virus becomes endemic, it’s now time to study not only the number of cases, but also the severity of symptoms and the number of people going to the hospital.

The data are clear: Nearly everyone going to the hospital with COVID is unvaccinated. This is entirely avoidable, if everyone gets their shots.

This is really important, because people working in hospitals are exhausted–nurses, doctors, and everyone. They have worked tirelessly for months to care for people who have gotten sick. Please go to the hospital only if you believe you really need to. It’s not fair to put even more pressure on hospital workers to care for people whose hospitalization is avoidable.

Arlington County says more test sites are coming soon, given high demand. The county is strongly encouraging residents to make appointments for testing.

“As the transmission increases, the demand for testing has as well,” Arlington’s health department said in an email this week. “Walk-in COVID-19 tests at County Curative kiosks may not be available due to holiday volumes and weather-related shipping delays. Appointments are strongly encouraged and longer wait times should be expected.”

Photos and video of some of the lines for Covid tests at Arlington libraries and testing booths today, via social media, are below.

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It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

For further information and to request a copy of the Final EA or FONSI, please contact Brian King, Environmental and Sustainability Program Manager, WHS/Facilities Services Directorate/Standards and Compliance Division/Environmental and Sustainability Branch; (703-614-3658 or [email protected]). Please include “Pentagon Master Plan Final EA and FONSI” in the subject line.

Submit your own Announcement here.

The 3rd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference will feature Thomas Silverstein, renowned Fair Housing expert and Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Come hear the latest news about fair housing enforcement, policy, and programs within Arlington County, Virginia, and across the country! Our expert panelists and guest speakers include fair housing advocates, elected officials, and government officials tasked with advancing housing equity at the local, state, and federal level.

Arlington has made substantial strides in advancing housing equity and improving fair housing policy with the adoption of the Regional Fair Housing Plan in 2023. Come learn what’s next to fight housing discrimination, incorporate equity for marginalized populations in our housing policies and programs, and increase awareness of fair housing rights under state and federal law.

We’ll have updates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing federal rule, a panel discussion of fair housing progress at the General Assembly and across Virginia, and a panel of local experts discussing the progress Arlington has made and what remains to be done.
Please RSVP in advance to ensure you receive your free lunch at the conference. Free and open to the public.

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Submit your own Announcement here.

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“The Secret Garden”

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