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Covid cases coming down in Arlington, but hospitalizations move county to ‘medium’ level

CDC map of Covid levels as of Jan. 17, 2023 (via CDC)

Covid appears to be on the decline in Arlington, but hospitalization levels rose sufficiently last week to move the county to the CDC’s “medium” Covid level.

The level moved from “low” to “medium” as of last Thursday. The latest Virginia Dept. of Health stats, however, show cases falling to a seven-day moving average of 38 per day as of yesterday (Tuesday), from a seasonal peak of 65 cases per day just before Christmas.

The CDC level change was prompted by a rise in Covid-related hospital admissions above the 10 per 100,000 residents per week mark. That metric stood at 12 as of Thursday.

Among neighboring jurisdictions, D.C. and Fairfax County are both at the “medium” level, while Alexandria is now at the “high” community level due to a combination of infection and hospitalization rates.

Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chair Mike Silverman, in his weekly Facebook post Friday night, said the hospital is “full” but Covid cases are declining.

After a couple of weeks of very high emergency department volume, our hospital is full. My colleagues are seeing this all over the country as well. This makes it more challenging to care for the patients coming into the emergency department as we have more patients “boarding” (waiting on their inpatient bed to be available) than typical. Even though our ER volume has come down a little bit compared to recent weeks, it still feels just as chaotic because of all these extra patients waiting for a bed to be available.

Along with a slight drop in volume, we have also seen a decrease in the amount of COVID were diagnosing. Overall, we diagnosed about 20% less patients with COVID this week compared to the prior 2 weeks. Our overall percent positivity fell from about 16.5% to 12.4%. The biggest drop we saw was in our symptomatic patients. Although we had about 20% less patients classified as symptomatic, we had about a 40% drop in the number of positives. This correlates to a 31% positivity rate dropping to a 21% positivity rate. Our general screening percent positivity remained stable at about 11%. For these patients, either the clinician has a low suspicion that the patient has COVID, but COVID is included in the differential diagnosis, or they are asymptomatic and require testing for admission/surgery/etc.

Consistent with the reduction in new diagnoses, we also saw a reduction in the number of patients who required COVID isolation in the ER compared to the prior two weeks. And the hospital has about 20% less admitted COVID patients than we did last week.

Covid cases in Arlington as of Jan. 17, 2023 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

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