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Arlington’s Covid data hints at possibility of a peak in the latest wave

Covid case rate in Arlington (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Has the latest Covid wave peaked in Arlington? Some of the recent data suggests that’s possible.

Calling a “top,” in stock market parlance, is a fraught exercise until a sustained downward trajectory is glaringly obvious. The old joke from an economist in the 1960s is that the stock market predicted nine of the past five recessions.

Indeed, if you were looking at Arlington’s Covid data you might have called a “top” in early-to-mid April, when there was a definite plateau in reported cases. But you would have been wrong — after that cases kept going up.

Today, another plateau in the data raises the possibility of a peak. The seven-day moving average of new cases currently stands at 199, and has fluctuated at or just below the 200 mark for more than a week.

Similarly, the county’s test positivity rate is currently 15.3% and has remained just above the 15% mark during that same time period.

Arlington’s Covid positivity rate as of 5/31/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Covid-related hospital admissions, as reported by the CDC, have been rising and currently stand at 7.7 weekly admissions per 100,000 residents — still below the threshold (10) for the CDC to consider Arlington’s Covid level as “high” rather than the current “medium.”

Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chair Mike Silverman, in his weekly public Facebook post on Friday, said the hospital observed a slight improvement in its Covid stats over the past week.

I’ve worked a lot over the past week. I’ve seen a lot of COVID. Old people, young people, people who got it a month ago and are still wrestling with symptoms. I had a couple of patients who came in for COVID symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath) but what got them admitted was that COVID exacerbated other pretty significant medical issues.

Although I wouldn’t know this from my clinical shifts, our data is a touch better than last week when we look at total numbers of new cases. The number of symptomatic people we diagnosed was up a bit, but the percent positivity rate was down a smidge (0.4%). Our general screen/asymptomatic patient testing numbers was down compared to last week and a drop in the percent positivity. Overall, the total number of patients we diagnosed with COVID dropped a touch compared to the week before and our overall percent positivity went from 9.4% to 7.8% (6 week running average of 6.5%). We’re seeing about 1350 patients in the ER a week and about 45% are getting tested for one reason or another. We also saw a slight decline in the number of patients who required our “COVID isolation” protocol and/or were admitted from this group.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, has recorded 234 student Covid cases over the holiday-shortened trailing seven-day period, including 25 cases at Washington-Liberty High School, the highest among the county’s public schools.

That compares — albeit with a holiday asterisk — to 351 total student cases over the previous seven-day period.

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