Press Club

Morning Notes

Rosslyn at lunchtime (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County Board’s APS Covid Concern — “Is the Arlington school system inadvertently encouraging parents to not report COVID-like symptoms among students? That’s the concern of a number of County Board members, who say the current testing requirements make it more likely parents will stay mum rather than go to the hassle of getting their children checked out.” [Sun Gazette]

Big Vehicle Fire Shuts Down Route 50 — From Dave Statter on Saturday night: “Some fuzzy traffic-cam video showing a vehicle fire that has all lanes of Route 50 eastbound shut prior to Pershing. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVaPD handling.” [Twitter]

Police Upping Seat Belt Enforcement — “The high-visibility national seat belt campaign, Click It or Ticket, which coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, runs from May 23 through June 6, 2022, and works towards reducing the number of fatalities that occur when drivers and passengers fail to buckle up.” [ACPD]

‘Salt Line’ Makes WaPo Dining Guide — “Well-shucked oysters, fluffy Parker House rolls, a comfortable room staged with nautical mementos: Just about everything that helps pack ’em in at the Salt Line in Navy Yard can be found at its young spinoff in Ballston. Really, the only ingredient missing from the original is a water view, although if you squint from a table inside, you can imagine boats and waves beyond the already-popular outdoor patio.” [Washington Post]

Worries About the Local Water Supply — “A train crash, a power plant discharge, an underwater pipeline rupture — or an act of terrorism — could cripple the drinking water supply of the nation’s capital. And there’s no Plan B. D.C. and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs are dependent on the Potomac River as the main — or sole — source of drinking water.” [WTOP]

Annual Street Sweeping Starting Soon — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Another round of Arlington street sweeping starts next month. Last year, 9,178 lane miles were cleaned for smoother rides and a healthier Chesapeake watershed.” [Twitter]

Beyer Banned from Russia — From Rep. Don Beyer: “A new Kremlin list of people banned from traveling to Russia just dropped; I am less interested than they might think in traveling to a country that is indiscriminately bombing Ukrainian civilians.” [Twitter]

APS Graduations at Constitution Hall — “Arlington Public Schools plans on having graduation ceremonies for its three main high schools back in their traditional spot – D.A.R. Constitution Hall – for the first time since 2019.” [Sun Gazette]

Lane Closures for Building Demolition — From the City of Falls Church: “From Sun 5/22 thru Thu 5/26, select lanes will be closed 9PM to 5:30AM while the building on the corner of Broad St. and Washington St. is demolished.” [Twitter]

It’s Monday — Partly sunny, with a high near 73 and a slight chance of showers later in the afternoon. [Weather.gov]

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County Board member Libby Garvey (left) with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission delegation in Germany (via NVRC/Twitter)

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey is quarantining in Germany after testing positive for COVID-19 while on a trip.

Garvey told ARLnow she’s doing relatively well, and feels mostly like she has a bad cold. She said she plans to keep up with Board work this week as much as she can.

“Hopefully I will have a negative test soon so I can fly home,” she said. “I’m checking on the regulations. I hope to get better quickly and be able to come home by this Thursday or Friday.”

At the County Board meeting Saturday, Chair Katie Cristol said Garvey was absent after being unable to return from her trip with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission “due to a medical condition.”

She was later able to join the meeting via video conference, about two hours in.

Garvey said she visited a family member in Germany and then joined the regional delegation, which was there to learn about the transition away from fossil fuels.

The delegation was in the Stuttgart region for five days and finished in Hamburg, where Garvey said she started experiencing symptoms that felt like allergies. She self-administered a Covid test, which was positive.

Garvey then went with the group to get a test at a German facility, and tested negative, she said. But she continued to have a runny nose, scratchy throat and was tired — although that could be attributed to the long days of walking and seminars.

In order to board the plane home, she was tested again Friday and was positive. The rest of the delegation tested negative and was able to fly home Saturday, she said.

Garvey said she’s lucky enough to have family in the country to quarantine with.

“I feel mostly like I have a bad cold, but it gets better and then worse again several times a day,” she said. “When it’s worse, I feel pretty yuck. When it’s better, I feel not too bad. I also feel a little dizzy at times, but not badly so.”

Garvey said she doesn’t know where she may have picked up the virus. She’s mostly been wearing a mask in Germany, except for meals or when all were seated and spaced apart, she said. She’s been fully vaccinated and had two booster shots.

Her takeaway: it’s really easy to get Covid given fewer people wearing masks and variants getting more contagious.

Garvey recommended residents get vaccinated and boosted so they won’t become seriously ill, “as I am very hopeful that I will not.”

“And, so far, so good,” she added.

Arlington recorded a new seasonal high today in its average daily case rate, with just over 175 new cases reported per day, on average, over the past week. That’s up from about 150 cases per day a week ago.

The test positivity rate in Arlington is currently 12.8%, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Covid hospitalizations in Arlington remain relatively low but continue to rise. The county is seeing 4.9 Covid-related admissions per 100,000 in population, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Virginia Hospital Center is seeing small week-to-week changes in Covid hospitalizations, but is “generally hanging in a comfortable zone,” ER chief Mike Silverman said in his weekly update Friday.

“For the most part, people are not requiring hospitalization for COVID, which is the benefit of vaccines,” he said.

But the ER has remained busy. Silverman said the prior week was the second busiest for total ER volume in the last several years, only surpassed by the last week of 2021 when Omicron was surging.

Photo via Northern Virginia Regional Commission

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Morning Notes

Metro Delays Due to Safety Snafu — “Metro’s Chief Safety Officer reports that nearly half of Metro’s 500 rail operators have lapsed recertification… In consultation with the Board of Directors, Metro management is taking immediate corrective action to remove from service 72 train operators who became out of compliance prior to May 2021. This will result in a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes due to an operator shortage.” [WMATA]

APS Changes Bell Schedules — “The School Board in Arlington, Virginia, voted to lengthen the school day by a little less than 10 minutes and to rearrange school start and end times in the first change to the county school system’s bell schedule in more than two decades. At its Thursday meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of the adjustments.” [WTOP]

Psaki Spat With Arlington GOP — Outgoing White House Press Secretary (and Arlington resident) Jen Psaki “acknowledged that there have been instances in which she shared information with the Secret Service about threats… She said that no one has physically come to her home, but added, ‘There is a circulation of my address among the Arlington Republican Party.’ The Arlington GOP in a statement to The Hill said it ‘has not publicly disseminated any Biden Administration official’s home address.'” [The Hill]

Rosslyn Tunnel Congestion Revisited — “The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) is pressing leadership of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority not to forget about congestion at the Rosslyn tunnel. In a May 6 letter to (outgoing) Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld, NVTC chair Carek Aguirre urged the transit agency to ‘recognize the strategic importance of moving swiftly to design a solution to relieve train congestion’ at the tunnel.” [Sun Gazette]

Wakefield Rowing Storms State Tourney — “At Saturday’s regatta… the Warriors stood just as deep as any other school on the Occoquan River and stepped into the dynasty conversation themselves, with the boys’ and girls’ top varsity eight boats each rowing to titles.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Trucker Protest Returning — “The People’s Convoy is slated to be in D.C. by Tuesday, as they’re currently in Ohio. Further, a convoy leader tonight took to the microphone to try and squash fear over being hit with eggs in the city, saying: ‘I happen to like eggs.'” [Twitter]

DCA Using UV to Zap Covid — “Reagan National and Dulles International airports now have ultraviolet disinfection technology to combat the spread of viruses including Covid… The airports authority’s statement of work specifically called for the technology to disinfect the air in 39 spaces at National and 73 spaces at Dulles, including ticketing and baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, transit platforms and gate hold rooms.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Real Estate is Really Expensive — “There may be an end in sight at some point for rising single-family home values in Arlington. But so far, it hasn’t been reached. The average sales price of the 100 single-family properties that went to closing in April was $1,348,813. That’s up 14.5 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Missing Falls Church Teen — “City of Falls Church Police seek information to help a teen return home. Abigail… is 16 years old and was last seen at her home in the City at about 3 a.m. on Sunday after an argument with family. Abigail is about 5 feet tall, has black brown hair and a nose ring.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Monday — Rain and storms, some severe, in the afternoon and evening. High of 77 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:16 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photos courtesy Will Wiard, Geoff Collins, Dave Statter and Kelly Harrington

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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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Covid cases in Arlington as of 5/6/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) Arlington remains on the upslope of what is increasingly looking like the pandemic’s fifth wave.

Thanks to high vaccination rates, this wave is locally more disruptive than deadly, but the county is starting to see a rise in Covid hospitalizations as well.

As of today the seven-day moving average of new daily cases is just shy of 140, up by nearly 50% from the 95 daily cases reported three weeks ago.

Arlington was just joined in the CDC’s “medium” Covid level by neighboring Fairfax County, which is seeing 210 weekly cases per 100,000 residents, compared to Arlington’s 376 weekly cases per 100,000. The City of Alexandria reached the “medium” Covid level on April 20.

Both counties are reporting 3.4 weekly Covid hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to CDC data. Arlington reported 1.9 weekly hospitalizations per 100,000 people less than four weeks ago.

Arlington’s Covid test positivity rate has been climbing over the past few days and currently stands at 11.2%.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, is reporting 317 student cases over the past week, up from 198 two weeks ago, immediately following spring break. A trio of North Arlington schools — Glebe Elementary, Yorktown High School and Cardinal Elementary — have the highest case total over the past week, with 20-30 cases each. (Kenmore Middle School also reported 20 cases.)

The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Rosslyn this week told families that nearly 20% of its senior class had tested positive for Covid over the course of two days, just ahead of AP exams and prom.

A reader shared the following email with ARLnow.

Dear families of seniors:

We wanted to make you aware that as of today, 18 seniors have reported testing positive for Covid in the last 2 days. This is almost 20% of our senior class.

We are sending emails to the families of students who are identified as close contacts via seating charts but we know that many seniors congregate at lunch, after school and on the weekends.

To mitigate further spread amongst our seniors we would ask you to consider the following strategies:

  • Keep your student home if they are not feeling well (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches cold symptoms, etc that are not explained by an alternate diagnosis). Even if they are testing negative.
  • Test your student regularly using an at home test.
  • Ask your student to mask to protect themselves and those around them especially if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

We would like every senior to be able to take their AP exams on time, go to Prom on May 17, and participate in all of their end of year activities. Please stay healthy!

Thank you,

Casey

Casey Robinson, Principal
H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program

Currently, the APS Covid dashboard is showing 18 cases over the past week for H-B Woodlawn, up from 15 immediately after the above email was sent out.

Asked at the time about the discrepancy, an APS spokesman noted that the dashboard only tracks voluntary parent questionnaires.

“Qualtrics is the questionnaire that is sent via text and email to families daily that asks if a students has symptoms, been in contact with someone or tested positive,” said Frank Bellavia. “We encourage families to fill it out each morning, but they are not required to.”

Bellavia said that APS is encouraging use of masks in schools, though mask wearing remains optional.

“We encourage students and staff to wear masks in schools since cases levels in Arlington are at the ‘medium’ level,” the school spokesman said. “APS also adheres to the recommended quarantine and isolation protocols for staff and students to reduce the spread of COVID. Additional measures include encouraging families to test if their student has symptoms and to sign their students up for weekly screening testing offered weekly in schools. We’ve also provided free at-home COVID tests and provide test-to-stay for students who are not vaccinated.”

Covid cases in Arlington Public Schools as of 5/6/22 (via APS)
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Covid cases in Arlington on 5/4/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Covid levels are still steadily rising in Arlington.

While hospitalization levels remain low, the county is seeing continued spread of the virus. Today alone, 193 new cases were reported in Arlington — the highest one-day total since Jan. 29, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

The seven-day moving average of daily cases is now 127, the highest point since early February, when the county was on the downswing from the larger Omicron-variant-fueled wave.

Wider view of Covid cases in Arlington as of 5/4/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Because of the ongoing spread, Arlington remains in the CDC’s “medium” Covid level, despite only recording 2.7 weekly Covid-related hospital admission per 100,000 residents.

Arlington’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, has bounced around a bit over the past couple of weeks, and currently stands at 11.2%

Covid test positivity rate in Arlington on 5/4/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Among the places seeing rising levels of virus are Arlington schools.

Arlington Public Schools today reported 261 student cases over the past seven days, compared to 224 cases during the prior seven day period. Despite their smaller size compared to secondary schools, a trio of North Arlington elementary schools have the highest level of cases over the past week: Jamestown (22 cases), Glebe (24 cases) and Cardinal (30 cases).

While the exact impact is unknown, the recent gathering of more than 2,500 people for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in D.C. may be playing at least a minor role in rising cases in Arlington, which is home to a number of notable media figures.

“In the days since WHCD weekend, reporters and staffers from CNN, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Politico, and other participating news organizations have tested positive for the virus,” CNN reported this morning. Politico is based in Rosslyn.

The spread is happening despite a high rate of vaccination in Arlington — 96.4% of the county’s adult population has received at least one vaccine done, while 87.2% are highly vaccinated. Reports suggest that a number of new variants that evade even natural immunity from recent Omicron variant infections are currently circulating in the U.S.

In her email newsletter to constituents Friday night, County Board member Libby Garvey noted that “Two of my fully vaccinated colleagues have recently tested positive for Covid.”

Covid is still among us and increasing with the new variant. I try to go about my work and life almost as before, but wear a mask when inside with large numbers of people and I’ve had two boosters. Even when you are careful, it is quite easy to get the new Covid variant. Two of my fully vaccinated colleagues have recently tested positive for Covid. So far no one has gotten terribly sick. I encourage my readers to be vaccinated, boosted if appropriate, and wear a mask when appropriate to protect yourself and others, but not to worry too much. While the situation continues to be difficult for immuno-compromised people, if you are basically healthy and fully vaccinated, it is unlikely you will get very sick should you contract the virus.

Garvey added that two county-run clinics are still open for vaccine and booster shots.

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Covid case rate in Arlington on 4/26/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Arlington saw a slight dip in Covid cases mid-month, during the Arlington Public Schools spring break, but cases are back on a relatively slow upward trajectory this week.

After the seven-day moving average broke the 100 daily case mark last week, that same figure stands at 110 cases per day today, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, has reported 195 student cases over the past week, including 23 at Jamestown Elementary alone. The North Arlington school has the highest seven-day case total of any Arlington public school, after Yorktown High School and its 14 reported cases.

Jamestown informed families about 17 new cases in an email yesterday.

Arlington County remains in the CDC’s “Medium” Covid level classification due to the volume of cases, but reported hospitalizations remain low.

In his weekly public Facebook post on Friday, Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman said the hospital is not seeing a notable increase in severe disease from Covid infections.

Although COVID numbers are continuing to increase in the community, we have seen a leveling off of COVID in both the emergency department and the hospital. Although new diagnoses of cases has increased the last several weeks in the ER, it never reached a critically high level. This week, the numbers actually dropped a touch as did the percent positivity rate in the emergency department as well. The hospital just has a handful of patients who are COVID-positive. I think we are seeing the clear benefits of vaccinations and boosters.

However, we have seen an increase in the community rate in Arlington County and this rate is slightly above 10%. This represents a pretty high transmission level in the community. Fortunately, patients are not getting sick and requiring hospitalization but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to be cautious in our interactions. And while some people may expect that getting COVID is inevitable, I think we still have a lot to understand about the long-term consequences of COVID.

The wider Arlington community’s Covid test positivity rate, meanwhile, has started declining. It currently stands at 10.8%, down from a recent peak of 12.4% three days ago, according to VDH.

Covid test positivity rate in Arlington on 4/26/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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Covid cases in Arlington as of 4/22/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The number of daily Covid cases in Arlington now stands at an average of just over 100 per day for the first time since February.

Arlington crossed the 100 daily case mark on Thursday, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The county remains in the CDC’s “Medium” Covid level due to the elevated case counts, though hospitalizations remain low — fewer than two per week per 100,000 in population, per the CDC.

Last week county officials blamed Arlington’s “Medium” Covid level on a number of factors, including increased testing before the start of spring break and delayed reporting of test results.

Despite the minor milestone, Covid cases have only risen modestly over the past couple of weeks; VDH reported about 90 daily cases on April 9.

Arlington Public Schools, which was back in session this week after the past week’s spring break, has reported 198 student cases over the course of the week. APS encouraged — but did not require — “precautionary at-home testing” using school-provided rapid tests, prior to students returning to classrooms.

There is some evidence, meanwhile, that there may be significantly more Covid cases than are being reported by the state health department, due to the proliferation of at-home testing.

Wastewater data in Arlington, last sampled on April 13, shows the level of Covid detected in the county’s sewage rising quickly since the end of March.

Wastewater Covid detection levels in Arlington (via Biobot)

Similarly, the test positivity rate in Arlington has seemingly outpaced the rate of new cases. The positivity rate currently stands at just under 12%, from a low of 2.7% in mid-March.

Arlington test positivity rate on 4/22/22 (via VDH)
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A discarded mask in Fairlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Masks are now optional on Metro, on Amtrak and on many airlines.

The announcements were made last night after a judge struck down the federal transportation mask mandate. Some cheered the end of the mandates, while others urged travelers to remain masked regardless.

For Metro, the end of the mask mandate extends to both riders and employees.  From a press release:

Effective immediately, Metro will make masks optional on Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess for its customers. Masks also will be optional for Metro employees. This change comes as a result of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suspending enforcement, while the Biden Administration reviews a federal judge’s ruling.

“Our mask mandate has been based on federal guidance,” said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds, but masks will be optional on Metro property until further notice.”

Metro encourages its customers to make decisions that are in their best interests. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

So far, there’s no word from Arlington Transit about the status of masks on ART buses. In New York City, the subway system has, for now, continued to require masks.

In general, what do you think of the decision to end mask mandates on public transportation? Also, do you plan on continuing to wear masks regardless?

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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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Covid levels in the D.C. region on 4/12/22, according to the CDC

(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) Arlington is now the only jurisdiction in the immediate D.C. area to reach a “medium” level of Covid infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC’s “Community Level” map shows Arlington in yellow while the rest of the metro area is in green, with levels of infection and hospitalization considered to be low.

A weekly rate of more than 200 new Covid cases per 100,000 in population is what pushed Arlington from low to medium on the CDC’s recently-revamped scale. Covid-related hospitalizations in Arlington remain relatively low, at just under 2 weekly admissions per 100,000 people.

As of this morning, Virginia Dept. of Health data shows a seven-day moving average of 90 cases per day in Arlington, up from a seasonal low of 24 daily cases just over a month ago. Arlington’s test positivity rate currently stands at 5.4%, twice the 2.7% low point one month ago.

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

Wastewater data similarly shows a sharp uptick in detected Covid levels in Arlington. According to the monitoring data from Biobot, the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant accounts for over half of the detected Covid strains in Arlington.

Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman said in his most recent update on social media that locals should expect “rapid changes… for a while” as Covid numbers fluctuate. While the recent lull in cases after the winter surge — combined with relatively low levels of severe illness — prompted Silverman to relax some precautions, he said it’s too early to totally let one’s guard down.

“Although our ER numbers still look good regarding COVID, we saw another increase in the number of patients we diagnosed with COVID this week, compared to previous weeks, and another bump in the percent positivity rate,” he wrote. “This is the highest number of cases we’ve had since mid-February. I think it speaks to COVID being part of daily existence, and that we still need to track the numbers”

“The Coronavirus is not done with us yet,” he concluded. “Get vaccinated (or your booster). Keep a mask handy.”

Separately, on Tuesday afternoon, County Board member Matt de Ferranti sent an email to supporters says he had recently tested positive for Covid.

On Sunday morning, I tested positive for COVID 19. I am fully vaccinated and boosted and have been in touch with my doctor. I am isolating at home.

This morning, the coronavirus count for cases in Arlington is up 128% from the count 2 weeks ago. The count is an indicator, but, as you may know, the hospitalization rates are what the CDC uses now as the best metric for COVID in a community. We have not yet seen a significant uptick in hospitalizations according to Dr. Mike Silverman’s most recent post from the Virginia Hospital Center’s emergency room, but we do know, and I can tell you firsthand, that you don’t want to get Covid. For the first time in a long time, Arlington is seeing more cases than other parts of Virginia and the nation. Get boosted. Wear a mask when in doubt. Please, please take care of yourselves and your health.

Sleeping and hydrating with your health and safety on my mind and in my heart.

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