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County: Spring break, delayed reporting may be behind Arlington’s elevated Covid level

Covid cases in Arlington on 4/12/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

The CDC’s elevated “Community Level” for Arlington may not tell the full story, county health officials say.

Yesterday ARLnow reported that Arlington was the only jurisdiction in the immediate D.C. area to have risen to a “medium” Community Level, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While hospitalizations here remain relatively low, the county has been above 200 new cases per week per 100,000 residents for a few days, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data, prompting the CDC’s designation.

But local officials argue that there are factors in play that may explain why the case rate is higher than elsewhere in the region, including a rise in testing leading up to the current Arlington Public Schools spring break.

“Ongoing transmission and recent increased testing contributed to the rise in cases as well as the delayed reporting of cases that are over 10 days old,” said county spokesman Ryan Hudson.

Arlington County Public Health released the following statement to ARLnow.

The increase above the 200 cases per 100,000 persons threshold is likely attributable to 3 factors First, there has been continued transmission in Arlington, and since March the northern Virginia region – including Arlington – has seen increases in weekly case rates. Second, there has been a 16% increase in the number of Arlington residents getting tested compared to the previous week, which is likely related to the good preparation by residents before beginning travel for Spring Break and the approaching religious holidays. Finally, we know that there has been delayed reporting of test results from before March which keeps being reported. […]

Fortunately, our Washington, DC metropolitan area hospital systems have the capacity to respond should there be a need due to COVID-19, especially because our area enjoys high rates of vaccination among those 5 and older.

With the start of Spring Break and the religious holidays, we remind residents of the actions you can take to reduce a Spring surge in cases using layered prevention strategies including testing, vaccination, choosing to wear a mask when appropriate, following CDC isolation and quarantine guidance, and getting treatments if and when necessary.

Regarding testing, consider testing to detect infection before and after traveling or when gathering with people at high risk for severe disease. Get tested at one of our five Curative testing kiosks, find other testing sites through the VDH Testing Locator, or order your second set of free at-home tests at COVID.gov/tests.

With respect to vaccines, everyone 5 years and older should get fully vaccinated and everyone 12 years and older should get a booster to strengthen protection against Omicron and other variants. To find a vaccine location near you visit vaccines.gov, walk-in to one of the County’s clinics, or call our COVID-19 hotline at 703-228-7999.

Our individual and collective actions are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones, to keep children well to attend school, and to keep society functioning by limiting a potential surge.

As of Tuesday, VDH was reporting a seven-day moving average of about 90 daily cases in Arlington, up from 24 cases per day a month ago. Local wastewater data similarly shows a sharp uptick in detected Covid levels.

Covid “Community Level” for Arlington (via CDC)

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