Arlington County is lifting its vaccine mandate for anyone who works or volunteers for county government.
The change today (Thursday) coincides with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ending the national public health emergency.
“Effective May 11, 2023, consistent with the end of the National Public Health Emergency, employees (including contractors and volunteers) are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination status for employment,” Arlington County spokesman Ryan Hudson told ARLnow in a statement.
“Employees are still urged to engage in mitigation measures as appropriate and to stay up to date on vaccinations,” he continued.
Arlington County mandated vaccines for all government employees in August 2021, requiring those who were unvaccinated to submit to weekly testing. Unvaccinated employees were told to get the jab or an exemption before Feb. 1, 2022 or face job loss.
A group of people who decided not to get the vaccine, largely first responders, petitioned the county for “more reciprocal ideas,” such as continuing testing. The mandate seemed to work somewhat, with the number of unvaccinated workers dropping from 278 to 174 in about a month.
By March 1, 2022, some 125 people obtained exemptions. The county said everyone complied with county policy and no one was fired.
The CDC’s emergency declaration at the start of the pandemic empowered the federal government to track Covid cases and deaths with greater granularity, among other measures. Now, it says it is time to integrate its emergency response into programs it already has.
“As a nation, we now find ourselves at a different point in the pandemic — with more tools and resources than ever before to better protect ourselves and our communities,” it said in a statement, adding that these changes will make its Covid response more sustainable in the long term.
The CDC says vaccines, treatments and testing will remain available but the data it publishes and the sources it uses will be different.
“Case data has become increasingly unreliable as some states and jurisdictions may no longer collect case data, testing results are sometimes not reported, or some individuals skip testing all together,” the CDC notes.
Some of these factors, plus vaccines and three years of exposure, may explain lowering case rates in Arlington. The county is seeing about five cases per day, down from about 60 cases a day this past winter, per Virginia Dept. of Health data.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement this morning that the ending of the public health emergency declaration should be followed by the implementation of laws and policies that will strengthen the health system, prepare us for the next such crisis, and address the end of the asylum policy known as Title 42.
When COVID-19 hit, Congress acted with force and urgency to save lives and livelihoods, taking actions that were made possible by the Public Health Emergency declaration, which opened the door to a wealth of additional tools and flexibilities. More than three years later, I’m proud to know that our nation has reached a point where we can move beyond the emergency stage of COVID-19 and the corresponding PHE declaration. Now, it’s up to Congress to adopt more permanent policies that reflect the valuable lessons we learned during this crisis, and that allow us to move forward rather than backwards. We must continue to strengthen our public health response capabilities, ensure that health care is affordable and easy to access through robust telehealth options, and improve the security of our southwest border while creating a better functioning asylum process and a reasonable path towards legal status for those who are undocumented. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress on these issues.
Three years after opening its doors in Ballston in the middle of a global pandemic, VIDA Fitness is holding a grand opening this Saturday.
“It sounds odd, off the cuff, close to three years after the grand opening to do a party, but this was the first time in the timeline to do it,” VIDA Fitness Director of Operations Aaron Moore tells ARLnow.
The D.C.-native fitness club was waiting for nice weather and a strong enough membership base to throw a party people would attend at 4040 Wilson Blvd. The event is scheduled for May 6 from 3-6 p.m.
Moore credits its fastest-growing program, nutritional counseling, for growing its roster of members. Launched in 2019, it aims to address the health issues Americans are facing — and represents another claim staked on a booming wellness industry some project will be worth $7 billion in 2025.
“The biggest trending term is ‘wellness,’ and that’s a function of being cooped up during the pandemic and leading a sedentary lifestyle,” Moore said. “The average life expectancy has gone down for the first time in decades.”
While the program predates Covid, interest in nutritional counseling jumped after the lockdowns and as people began thinking about health less in silos like “working out” and “eating right” and started viewing these as components of overall wellness. The in-person and virtual 12-week workshop, with group and individual sessions, also demonstrates how better nutrition improves exercise results, work productivity and sleep habits.
“It’s pretty comprehensive and we’ve seen some amazing health outcomes,” he said, even for an area “where people are more in tune with their bodies and taking care of themselves.”
And the benefit sweetening the deal? It is free through many types of health insurance as preventative care, he says. VIDA offers the program directly to individuals and to businesses that want to purchase the benefit for their employees.
Initially, the fitness center focused on generating buzz about the gym’s Covid-era health and safety protocols. Moore said that helped coax customers who were already the 10-15% of people who habitually go to the gym, despite Covid, along with others who were more safety-conscious and planned to return when the pandemic was “over, over.”
“That’s where the communication plan was helpful and productive to talk about our cleaning protocols, our air changeover rate, our check-in and contact tracing system, all that good stuff,” he said.
VIDA Fitness cultivated “the credibility of doing what we said we were going to do” while, at the same time, people got more comfortable living with Covid, Moore continued. Membership rates turned a corner in 2022 because people liked the variety of amenities, services and distinct workout environments provided there.
“That’s when it really started to take off,” Moore said. “We’re thriving now.”
Buoyed by “a great first quarter” and more members, the Ballston location completed a large-scale renovation that included the addition of more strength and squat racks and three Peloton bikes.
“We are now a fixture in the Ballston neighborhood and the Arlington community,” Moore said. “We’ve got a great relationship with the Ballston Business Improvement District, which is an amazing resource, and the Chamber of Commerce is a great partner to us.”
Saturday’s celebration will include tours, opportunities to mingle with trainers and neighbors and free giveaways, per an event page. Food and drinks will be provided by Rosslyn taqueria Taco Rock, Ballston-based True Food Kitchen, Clarendon restaurant Buena Vida, D.C.-area chain Nando’s and Northern Virginia winery Fabbioli Cellars.
Meanwhile, the gym is already building its seventh location, in Reston, which is set to open in the summer of 2024. A would-be Rosslyn location was scrapped last year, the Washington Business Journal reported.
More than 150 weeks have passed since Dr. Mike Silverman, the emergency department chair at VHC Health, started his Friday night posts about the Covid pandemic.
The public Facebook posts have helped provide medical context and clarity, but in layman’s terms, to those seeking a better understanding of the disease and the response to it. ARLnow has regularly quoted Silverman’s posts in our coronavirus coverage.
Now, three years after Silverman’s first pandemic post from the ER, he’s wrapping up the weekly series. While not ruling out occasional updates, Silverman says now seems like a good time to conclude his Friday writing routine. By Silverman’s count, he has produced more than 195,000 words of updates on the local prevalence of Covid, as seen at the hospital, and the latest medical research on the virus and its treatments.
“Stopping on the second Friday in March three years later seems like a good run,” he wrote last month when announcing the decision.
When Silverman published his first Facebook update on March 13, 2020, only five Arlington cases had been confirmed, local grocery stores were being picked clean and Arlington Public Schools had just announced the closure of schools through spring break in April. The first confirmed case in the county had been announced just four days earlier.
Today, with vaccines and three years of exposure to the virus, it is still deadly and debilitating for some, but not nearly to the extent of earlier, when it was still a novel outbreak. As of last week, cases in Arlington were down to an average of just 11 per day, the lowest point since mid-2021, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.
The last confirmed Covid-related death in Arlington was reported during the final week of 2022.
“Coronavirus is not quite done with us yet though we’ve learned to live with it,” Silverman wrote on Friday.
That last weekly post is reprinted below with his permission.
It’s been another good week when it comes to the number of COVID cases we’re diagnosing in the ER. Our symptomatic positives are way down, with only a handful of positive cases and a 3% positivity rate this past week (6 week running average 10.3%). This is the second week in a row that is notably less than the previous weeks. Our general screening population (in theory asymptomatic patients or those we think COVID is unlikely) is also below 4% for the second week in a row (6 week average about 6%). The numbers for all comers this week show a 3.7% positivity rate and the last two weeks each had about half the number of cases we saw in the weeks beforehand. These numbers are consistent with other periods of time after surges. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID also dropped about 20% since last week. Hospitalizations climb in the weeks following a surge and are a lagging indicator of when the surge is over. I suspect we’ll continue to see a drop in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID over the next few weeks as well. However, I do anticipate that taking care of COVID patients in the ER and in the hospital will be part of our world for a long time to come.
Covid cases in Arlington reported to health authorities have fallen to the lowest level in a nearly a year and a half.
The Virginia Dept. of Health is currently reporting a seven-day average of about 17 cases per day in Arlington, though VDH notes that it expects an elevated level of cases over the next two weeks “due to a delay in the transfer of case reports from laboratories to VDH.” Nonetheless, that’s the lowest case rate since the summer of 2021.
The county is also seeing a lower rate of Covid-related hospitalizations, with 5.2 per week per 100,000 in population, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. That’s half of the threshold from what the CDC considers a “low” Covid community level — which Arlington is currently in — to a “medium” level.
The decline in cases in Arlington since the start of January mirrors a similar fall from a seasonal peak in Covid cases statewide, down by nearly two thirds during the same timeframe.
While Covid has somewhat faded into the background of the general public consciousness, it is undoubtedly still spreading. In Arlington Public Schools, for instance, outbreaks continue happening with some regularity. Nearly 250 student cases have been reported in APS over the past 30 days, including 23 cases at Williamsburg Middle School and 14 cases at Abingdon Elementary.
Meanwhile, Virginia Hospital Center ER chair Dr. Mike Silverman, who has penned a weekly public Facebook post about Covid since shortly after the pandemic started, says he will be discontinuing the column next month.
“After much consideration, I want to let everyone know that I expect to have my last ‘weekly update’ on Friday, March 10,” Silverman wrote recently. “I wrote my first Friday Night Update on the second Friday in March 2020 and stopping on the second Friday in March three years later seems like a good run. I will write a proper goodbye and thank you with that update.”
Silverman’s Feb. 17 post also provided an update on long-term complications of Covid on the heart, lungs and other organs, also known as Long Covid.
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.
Don’t look now, but Covid cases are on the rise again in Arlington.
Daily case averages are still well below the levels seen earlier in the year, but the trajectory is upward, Virginia Dept. of Health data shows. As of Wednesday, the seven-day case average in Arlington was 57 cases per day, high highest point since September.
That follows national trends of rising Covid cases.
According to CDC data, Arlington County’s weekly case rate per 100,000 people is 154, while the weekly Covid hospital admission rate is 7.7 per 100,000 people. The threshold between the CDC’s “low” and “medium” Covid levels is 200 cases and 10 admissions.
Just in time for the rise in cases, the federal government today is restarting its free Covid tests by mail program. The tests can be ordered here.
VDH, meanwhile, announced yesterday that bivalent booster shots are now available to all children six months of age and older in Virginia.
From a press release:
Parents of young children in Virginia are now able to seek a free bivalent pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for their children aged six months and older, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today, following the recommendation of the vaccines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on December 9.
The Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine, previously available only to persons aged five years and older, is now available for children aged six months through four years as a third primary series dose. At this time, children aged 6 months through four years who received three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to complete their primary series are not authorized to receive a booster dose of bivalent vaccine. The Moderna bivalent vaccine, previously available for persons aged six years and older, is now available for children aged six months through five years as a booster dose at least two months after completion of a Moderna primary series.
Both bivalent vaccines target the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that first emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant that emerged in the United States in November 2021.
VDH advises parents to discuss this option with their child’s healthcare provider. Vaccination opportunities may be found at Vaccinate.Virginia.gov.
Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chair Dr. Mike Silverman, in his weekly public Facebook post, encouraged parents to consider the bivalent booster for their kids. He also noted that flu and RSV are are still prevalent in the community amid a particularly active fall for respiratory illnesses.
Within VHC, the number of patients we have hospitalized with COVID is similar to last week (and higher than last month). The emergency department remains quite busy. November was among our highest volume months ever, for the most part attributed to Flu and RSV cases. Among our COVID population, we saw another week over week increase in the number of patients testing positive in our “symptomatic” population with a higher percent positive rate than the previous week. That number is 3-4 fold higher than in early November. Among all our testing, we had about twice as many positives as just a few weeks ago.
The CDC reports that “there have been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu so far this season,” making this the worst flu season in a decade. Although the number of patients we’re seeing with the flu has declined a bit over the past month, there’s still a lot of flu in the community and I highly recommend getting your flu shot. And fortunately, the flu vaccine this year appears to be a “good match” for the circulating strains, meaning the vaccine works better than average this year.
The FDA approved the bivalent booster for those 6 months to 5 years old. This booster can serve as the 3rd shot after the primary two shot series is complete. This will go to the CDC for review and should be available soon. Please talk to you pediatrician about vaccination. I continue to see a lot of young children that are not vaccinated.
In another sign that we’ve reached the later stages of the pandemic, Arlington County is permanently closing its public vaccine clinic next month.
The announcement was made this morning.
“Demand has significantly decreased at the County’s clinic, with COVID-19 vaccines now widely available in the community through pharmacies, urgent care centers, and medical providers,” the county said in a press release. “As such, the final day of operations for the clinic at Sequoia Plaza (2100 Washington Blvd.) will be Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.”
The clinic first opened nearly two years ago and saw long lines for the original vaccine after it was made available. In addition to its closing, the county announced that all but one of its Covid testing booths are closing.
“All County Curative COVID-19 testing kiosks will close on Nov. 30, 2022, except for the Arlington Mill Community Center location,” the press release said. “The closure of kiosks aligns with a significant decline in kiosk testing demand across the County (an 80% decline since Nov. 2021) and the widespread availability of at-home and pharmacy-based tests.”
Covid case rates in Arlington have held relatively steady over the past month and currently stand at a seven-day moving average of 30 cases per day, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. That’s about the middle of the range for what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a “low” Covid level.
Meanwhile, some of the public health attention has shifted to rising levels of flu and the childhood illness RSV.
“The emergency department is pretty much as busy as we have ever seen it,” Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chair Mike Silverman wrote Friday in his weekly public Facebook post. “Our volume this week (and actually last week) is 20+% higher than our typical volume. We are definitely seeing this with the flu and RSV numbers. We’re also seeing this in the increased number of pediatric patients coming to the ER.”
The full Arlington County press release about the clinic and testing booth closures is below.
There are rising regrets about the extended closure of public schools as a result of Covid, the Associated Press reports.
A lengthy article published by the newswire this morning discusses the wide-ranging impacts of pandemic-era learning loss and the inefficacy of “Zoom school.”
From the AP:
But her daughter became depressed and stopped doing school work or paying attention to online classes. The former honor-roll student failed nearly all of her eighth grade courses.
“She’s behind,” said Kargbo, whose daughter is now in tenth grade. “It didn’t work at all. Knowing what I know now, I would say they should have put them in school.”
Preliminary test scores around the country confirm what Kargbo witnessed: The longer many students studied remotely, the less they learned. Some educators and parents are questioning decisions in cities from Boston to Chicago to Los Angeles to remain online long after clear evidence emerged that schools weren’t COVID-19 super-spreaders — and months after life-saving adult vaccines became widely available.
There are fears for the futures of students who don’t catch up. They run the risk of never learning to read, long a precursor for dropping out of school. They might never master simple algebra, putting science and tech fields out of reach. The pandemic decline in college attendance could continue to accelerate, crippling the U.S. economy.
Arlington Public Schools closed in March 2020 at the outset of the pandemic and did not start to reopen, on a two-day-a-week hybrid basis, until March 2021 when mandated by the state and Gov. Ralph Northam (D). During that time, dueling Arlington parent groups formed to alternately push for and urge caution about a return to classrooms.
Most Arlington private schools resumed some degree of in-person learning in the fall of 2020. The Sun Gazette reported this week that APS enrollment is still below pre-pandemic levels; many public schools in the wealthier parts of northern Arlington in particular saw enrollment drop as parents sent students to private schools.
While APS opened classrooms sooner than many school districts in California, for instance, it took awhile to even get most students back in classrooms part time, with the School Board pushing the superintendent later in March 2021 to accelerate the return.
APS finally reverted back to full-time, in-person learning in the fall of 2021 and stuck with it through the Omicron surge that winter. A small minority of students and parents opted for a new full-time virtual learning option, which ended up being beset by problems.
Given what we know now about the health impacts of Covid and about pandemic-era learning loss, do you think — with the benefit of hindsight — APS should have resumed in-person school sooner than it did?
Arlington’s Covid test positivity rate dipped below 10% earlier this month, for the first time since April.
That’s according to the latest data from the Virginia Dept. of Health, which is currently reporting a seven-day moving average of about 30 cases per day in the county, down from 200 daily cases in late May.
Arlington remains roughly in the middle of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s case range for a “low” Covid rate, at just over 100 cases per week per 100,000 in population. The CDC is reporting about five Covid-related hospital admissions per week per 100,000 people in the county.
The relative lull in cases comes as the U.S. healthcare system braces for a sharp rise in Covid and flu cases this winter.
From NPR earlier this morning:
The U.S. should prepare for a spike in COVID cases this winter as more people gather indoors and infections already begin to rise in Europe, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha says.
The warning echoes that of some other experts who anticipate a rise in cases in the coming months, while other modelling suggests that infections will recede in the near future.
“We are seeing this increase in Europe, and Europe tends to precede us by about four to six weeks,” Jha told NPR. “And so it stands to reason that as we get into November, December, maybe January, we are going to see an increase in infections across much of the country.”
“I’m pretty worried about what the ER will look like this winter,” Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chair Mike Silverman wrote in his latest weekly Facebook post. “It’s always busier in the winter than the summer. Our weekly volume is currently higher than our pre-pandemic volume and we’re starting to see an increase in the [number of] patients presenting with respiratory illnesses.”
Some experts are predicting a more modest Covid surge this winter, owing in part to greater natural immunity in the population in addition to the new bivalent vaccine booster shots that are intended to better target the Omicron variant.
But even if Covid does not spike to the levels of past winters, the flu and other respiratory viruses are likely to keep hospitals and other healthcare providers busy.
“If you go around the nation and ask hospitals how busy they are, every single one of them will tell you: They’re busy,” Dr. Carlos del Rio of Atlanta’s Emory University School of Medicine told NBC News.
A few hundred parents say Arlington Public Schools should prioritize recreating pre-Covid normalcy in the classroom and evaluating the use of electronic devices.
That’s according to a recent informal survey conducted by Arlington Parents for Education, a parent group that began during the pandemic to advocate for reopening schools.
Since schools reopened, APE has evolved into a School Board watchdog group, with priorities such as reversing pandemic-era learning loss. The group says the survey will inform what APE should advocate for, in addition to ending Covid protocols. The priorities don’t surprise School Board candidates and other education advocacy groups, but some groups say the survey does not speak for the parents they represent.
The survey netted a few hundred responses, about 70% of which reside in North Arlington and a little under 30% in South Arlington, with some respondents living outside the county. Most have elementary-aged children, followed by children in middle and high school. Some also indicated they had children in area private schools, which saw an influx in public school families when they returned for in-person school before APS.
“We recently surveyed hundreds of our parents to see how their students are doing in a post-pandemic world at APS and what they want APS and APE to focus on,” APE said in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, parents want a return to normalcy for their students — full resumption of field trips, in-person orientations, back-to-school events and other parental involvement opportunities in all APS buildings.”
“This also means returning to the pre-pandemic golden rule applicable to any illness: if you’re sick, stay home,” the group added.
APS is, in fact, returning to pre-Covid procedures for field trips and events, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said.
Masks became optional as of March 1, but students, visitors and teachers have some Covid protocols to follow.
Those with Covid-like symptoms must present a negative test or alternative diagnosis from a medical provider or isolate at home for five days before returning to class. Meanwhile, volunteers, like APS employees, must have proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing to volunteer, Bellavia said.
For APE, that’s not normal. But for Smart Restart APS, a parent group that started to push for protocols such as outdoor lunch and improved ventilation, said there is no return to life pre-2020.
“Smart Restart APS believes we are living in a new reality, and APS should continue to have appropriate, common-sense measures to adapt to living in this new reality, one which includes the ever-present possibility of COVID-19 infection spreading through our schools,” the group said in a statement. “We have to adapt — not ignore — the new situation.”
The spread of Covid still impacts families, whether a parent misses work or a child brings home Covid to a high-risk family member, the group continued.
“Everyone has a right to access a safe and healthy school environment,” the Smart Restart statement said. “COVID-19 in the air should not be a part of that.”
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) Covid cases have held relatively steady in Arlington for most of September, as the weather turns cooler and flu season looms.
Just under 50 cases per day are being reported on average over the past week, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The test positivity rate has been falling and now stands at 11.6%.
The last month with generally lower case totals was March, after which cases started gradually rising before peaking around Memorial Day and starting an even more gradual decline.
In his weekly public Facebook post last week, VHC Health emergency department chief Dr. Mike Silverman said the hospital is also seeing lower levels of Covid.
We saw a noticeable decrease in the number of new COVID diagnoses we made this week in the ER and the percent positive rate dropped. We’ve been seeing a general decline in the COVID cases since late August but among symptomatic patients, this past week was one third lower than the last several weeks and less than half the number we were seeing in mid-August. The percent positive rate for our “symptomatic” patients was about 30% in mid-August and was just below 17% this past week. Among all comers, despite testing more than in mid-August (our ER volume is higher), our percent positive rate has dropped from approximately 13% to 6.4% and we’ve seen about a 40% drop in the number of patients we diagnosed with COVID this week compared to mid-August. We are 30-40% less than we were seeing the last few weeks. We also have a few less people requiring hospitalization this week compared to recent weeks. One week doesn’t make a trend but the numbers are similar to previous declines we’ve seen so I’m optimistic we’re on the downward slide of the curve for now.
Silverman said he’s also optimistic about the positive effects of the new bivalent vaccine booster shot, which are designed to be more effective against the current Omicron strains of the virus. Arlington County has been offering the shots, which are also available in pharmacies and elsewhere, for just over two weeks.
Despite optimism, cooler weather and increased time indoors typically brings a rise in respiratory disease.
October often marks the start of flu season, and this year’s flu season may be especially bad. There are also anecdotal reports of an uptick in cold-like illnesses currently circulating in the area.
Arlington, meanwhile, has seen two consecutive years in which Covid cases spiked in the fall or winter. In 2020, the rise started in late October or early November. In 2021, it started in early December.