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Arlington’s daily Covid case rate rises above 150 as test positivity hits seasonal high

Covid cases as of 5/10/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

The latest wave of Covid cases in Arlington remains on the upswing.

As of this morning, the average daily case rate and test positivity rate both hit seasonal highs — 157 cases per day and 13.3%, respectively.

Arlington remains, along with its immediate Northern Virginia neighbors, in the CDC’s “medium” Covid level. The CDC’s weekly metrics have not been updated since our last report on Friday; the county’s reported weekly hospitalization rate remains 3.4 per 100,000 people.

Covid test positivity rate on 5/10/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

In his weekly public post on Friday, Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman said the hospital is also seeing the increase in Covid cases — and medical personnel are taking extra precautions as well.

As I started my shift yesterday, one of my advanced practice providers said to me that it felt like January. It took me a second to figure out what she meant but then I realized she was about to walk into a room of a family of 4 that had come to the ER for COVID evaluation. Fortunately, home testing is widely available so we’re not being over run again for people requesting tests. But we are seeing an increase in patients presenting with signs and symptoms of COVID. We keep our N95’s in the ER a little bit out of the way so people outside of the ER aren’t just grabbing them when they walk by. I grab one each shift as I’m getting started. Yesterday, each of the APPs I was working with asked me to grab them one as well.

While cases are up, Silverman said he’s not seeing a big jump in Covid-related hospitalizations.

We are seeing an increase in the amount of patients we diagnose with COVID. Our total positive numbers for this past week are almost double what we saw the previous week and our asymptomatic patients had a 6% positivity rate. Our symptomatic patients had a 15% positivity rate. That’s low by “surge” standards but 50% higher than last week and almost double the rate 2 weeks before. Fortunately, we’re not seeing big increases in the number of patients requiring hospitalization for COVID.

Arlington is about two months into a steady rise in cases that started shortly after the winter surge in cases bottomed out. That previous wave lasted just three months from trough to trough, but saw much higher average daily case counts, peaking around 650 cases per day.

Barring a drastic drop in cases, it appears that Arlington is not going to see a repeat of the past two years, when cases stayed at a relatively low level in June.

Covid cases throughout the pandemic, as of 5/10/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

There are concerns, meanwhile, that Covid levels could surge again in the fall.

From the Washington Post late last week:

The Biden administration is warning the United States could see 100 million coronavirus infections and a potentially significant wave of deaths this fall and winter, driven by new omicron subvariants that have shown a remarkable ability to escape immunity.

The projection, made Friday by a senior administration official during a background briefing as the nation approaches a covid death toll of 1 million, is part of a broader push to boost the nation’s readiness and persuade lawmakers to appropriate billions of dollars to purchase a new tranche of vaccines, tests and therapeutics.

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