Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4 p.m.) A total of 75 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Arlington over the past week, after four straight days of single-digit case counts.

That’s the lowest trailing seven-day case total since July 26, 2020, and the first four-day streak of single-digit cases since late June 2020. It comes as new COVID-19 cases are declining in 37 states, including Virginia, while no states are seeing rising cases.

“America’s battle against the coronavirus is going great,” Axios reported today. “The U.S. is finally winning its battle against COVID-19 thanks almost exclusively to one weapon: the vaccines.”

In Arlington, nearly 200,000 vaccine doses have been administered and 86,534 people are now fully vaccinated, according to the latest Virginia Dept. of Health data.

About 52% of the overall county population has received at least one dose. Just over 2,000 doses are being administered each day, on average, though that figure has fallen from a peak of more than 3,500 daily doses in late April.

Starting Saturday, the county will offer free vaccinations to children ages 12-15, who are newly eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

“This is a critical milestone in our pandemic response. We encourage all parents to get their children vaccinated when they become eligible,” Arlington Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said in a press release Wednesday. “The vaccine is the best form of protection against COVID-19. The more people protected, the better it is for ourselves and for our community.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, announced new mask recommendations this afternoon, advising that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or physically distance indoors or outdoors, in most circumstances.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

A spokeswoman said Arlington County is waiting for additional guidance from the state before making any changes in response to the CDC.

“We are reviewing the newly-released CDC recommendations while also awaiting guidance from the Virginia Department of Health,” county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter told ARLnow.

Despite the good news, incidents of serious illness from Covid infections have not let up. Seven Covid-related hospitalizations have been reported in Arlington over the past week, including two new hospitalizations today.

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Morning Notes

Mom Inspires Sons to Join Vax Effort — “Quitting their jobs to help end the pandemic. That’s what some Springfield, Virginia men did after being inspired by a public health nurse who has been on the front lines responding to COVID-19. The nurse that inspired them to change careers is their mom,” who works at Arlington County Public Health. [WJLA]

Library Launching New Outdoor Storytime — “Outdoor Storytime is a fun and interactive program, presented by youth service librarians, and combines activities such as read-aloud stories, songs, rhymes, fingerplays and flannel boards. A kick-off event will be held on Tuesday, May 18, 10 a.m., at Central Library adjacent to Quincy Park, with special guest Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh.” [Arlington Public Library]

Dog Pee Causing Parking Meter Problems — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “Pooches, please: Take your aim game to more rustic targets. You’re jamming the parking meter coin doors.” [Twitter]

GOP Gov. Nominee on HQ2 — “[Republican nominee for governor Glenn] Youngkin supports Amazon’s big HQ2 project in Arlington, but argues he ‘would have cut a heck of a better deal.'” [Axios]

Nature is Healing — “After more than a year of reduced operating hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) stores will return to pre-pandemic operating hours on May 14, 2021. All stores will open by 10 a.m. every day, apart from some stores which regularly open later on Sundays.” [Press Release]

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After lagging neighboring Alexandria and Fairfax County for part of the year, one measure of Arlington’s vaccination rate is now the highest among major Northern Virginia jurisdictions.

More than 180,000 vaccination doses have been administered in Arlington, as of this morning, and more than 75,000 people have been fully vaccinated. According to Virginia Dept. of Health data, 48.8% of Arlington’s population has received at least one vaccination dose.

That’s higher than Alexandria (44.5%), Fairfax County (48.6%), Loudoun County (48.3%) and Prince William County (42.8%). Two smaller jurisdictions — the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax — have rates of 52.7% and 52% respectively.

Yesterday, President Biden set a goal of having 70% of the American adults vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4. In Arlington, 115,626 people have received at least one vaccine dose, which is nearly 60% of the adult population.

At 31.7%, Arlington still trails Fairfax (32.3%) and Loudoun (31.9%) counties in terms of percentage of the population that’s fully vaccinated. The VDH figures do not include doses administered by federal agencies, which have been vaccinating military members and essential federal workers.

An average of just over 2,300 vaccination doses have been administered each day in Arlington over the past week. The county is currently accepting walk-ins at vaccination sites in Crystal City and near Columbia Pike, through Friday.

The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Arlington, meanwhile, continues to decline.

Arlington broke its streak of two consecutive days of single-digit new cases, with 21 new cases reported this morning, but the trailing seven-day total still dropped to 111, the lowest point so far in 2021. Arlington’s test positivity rate currently stands at 3%.

Since Sunday, two new Covid-related deaths and two hospitalizations have been recorded, according to VDH.

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Getting vaccinated in Arlington now just takes a couple of clicks and a jab.

A month after Arlington joined other Northern Virginia locales in pleading for more vaccine supply from the state, the supply of unvaccinated arms rather than vaccine doses is quickly becoming the limiting factor.

To help keep up the current vaccination momentum — today the county reached a fresh high of more than 3,500 vaccine doses being administered per day, on average — scheduling a vaccine appointment no longer requires a pre-registration process. Rather, anyone 16 years of age or older can now get a free Covid shot via an online scheduling system, effective immediately.

As of publication time, there were plenty of shots still available at both the Lubber Run Community Center and the Walter Reed Community Center tomorrow (Wednesday).

More than 162,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Arlington, as of today, and more than 65,000 people — out of an adult population of nearly 200,000 — are fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. Just over 45% of the overall population has received at least one vaccination shot.

The stats include vaccinations administered by the county, private pharmacies and others.

In a press release, below, county officials touted the scheduling change as helping to “remove barriers to making an appointment.”

Beginning Tuesday, April 27, individuals 16 years and older may directly schedule an appointment to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine at Arlington County public health clinics.

Individuals can directly reserve a slot at one of Arlington’s public health clinics by visiting the County website – or by searching Vaccinefinder.org for appointments at nearby locations.

“Arlington has hit a major milestone in its vaccination efforts by surpassing more than 100,000 doses administered through our public health clinics,” said Matt de Ferranti, Chair of the Arlington County Board. “As we continue our work to efficiently vaccinate our residents and do so equitably, open scheduling helps remove barriers to making an appointment and ensures our community can quickly and conveniently access COVID-19 vaccines.”

Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington County Public Health Director added, “Vaccines offer the best form of protection against COVID-19. The more people protected, the better it is for ourselves and our community. We’ve made significant progress and we need more people vaccinated.”

Individuals who have pre-registered should have received an invitation to schedule a vaccine appointment. If you have not received an invitation to schedule, please check your spam folder or schedule your appointment now.

Individuals ages 16-17 should search for appointment dates where Pfizer is offered. Note: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available at public health clinics in the coming days, and it will be noted on the appointment slots.

If you need help scheduling your appointment with Arlington County Public Health, call 703-228-7999. For additional assistance, call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682).

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Arlington has hit new milestones for coronavirus cases and vaccinations.

As of this morning, the cumulative number of reported cases reached 15,007, rising above 15,000 for the first time, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. One death and one new hospitalization were reported overnight, bringing Arlington’s pandemic total to 252 deaths and 827 hospitalizations.

On Sunday the trailing seven-day total of new cases dipped to 147, the lowest point since Oct. 15.

In the meantime, an additional 4,622 vaccine doses were reported administered in this morning’s data, bringing the total number of doses administered to 160,017. In all, 64,739 people have been fully vaccinated in Arlington, according to VDH stats.

The trailing seven-day rate of vaccination doses is now 3,440 per day, a new high. VDH is reporting an average of 1,650 people fully vaccinated in Arlington each day. At that rate, it would take 84 days to fully vaccinate the remainder of Arlington’s adult population, a new low for that metric.

Have questions about getting vaccinated? Arlington County released the following video Q&A late last week.

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COVID-19 outbreak investigations are currently ongoing at Washington-Liberty High School and another unnamed Arlington public school.

The W-L investigation started after four students tested positive between March 23-31.

“Based on guidance from the [Arlington County Public Health Department], we quarantined all students and staff who were in close contact with any of the individuals who tested positive,” said a letter to families from Zachary Pope, APS’s director of emergency management, and Principal Tony Hall. “All health and safety protocols were being followed at school, which allowed W-L staff to respond quickly with ACPHD to prevent further transmission,” they said.

Arlington County Public Health Department spokeswoman Jessica Baxter confirmed that investigations were underway at two schools, but declined to name them.

Over the last couple of months, Arlington Public Schools expanded access to two days of in-person instruction a week across all grade levels. In that time, the school system has reported 84 COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

APS declined to answer questions about COVID-19 cases because “it is private health-related information,” according to spokesperson Frank Bellavia.

But once one case is confirmed in a classroom, the entire class is sent home for up to two weeks of virtual learning while contact tracing is conducted, according to APS guidelines. Deciding whether an entire school should go virtual requires working closely with ACPHD, the guidance says.

This approach to identifying and quarantining students and staff — much like the reopening discussion thus far — has drawn support from some and frustration from others, who see the policy affecting too many students on the periphery of a case.

Across the school system, APS has reported 63 positive cases and eight cases where information is “not available” among students since March, when most started returning to classrooms.

Among teachers — who returned in February — and other school employees, there have been 21 reported positive cases. Of those, 13 cases are among teachers and eight cases are among staff.

So far, the central APS office at Syphax Education Center and the school system’s transportation department, which operates school buses, have the highest number of cases, with four each.

Views about the school system’s reporting of and response to COVID-19 cases vary among School Board contenders and parents.

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Arlington County is halting use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a federal warning about rare blood clots.

The temporary pause in use of the one-shot vaccine at county-operated vaccine clinics is “out of an abundance of caution,” Arlington County said in a statement this morning.

D.C., Maryland and other Virginia jurisdictions are also pausing administration of the J&J vaccine, after a recommendation from the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

“The CDC and FDA announced on Tuesday the review of data involving six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in individuals after they received the J&J vaccine,” Arlington County said. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. As of April 12, nearly 7 million doses of J&J have been administered in the United States.”

“All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination,” the CDC and FDA noted in a joint statement.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, federal officials said at least one person was in critical condition as a result of the clots. There is no evidence of similar reactions to the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they said. The pause is expected to last only a few days, and officials emphasized that the condition is serious, but exceedingly rare.

The county, meanwhile, says that those with appointments for J&J shots today will receive the Moderna vaccine instead.

“Individuals who have appointments Tuesday, April 13, at the Lubber Run Community Center, where Johnson and Johnson was being administered, will be offered the Moderna vaccine,” said the county statement. “The County will continue to hold clinics to the extent it receives available doses of Pfizer and Moderna over the next few days. Appointments may need to be rescheduled depending on whether the County receives additional doses of other vaccines or learns more about the status of the J&J vaccine.”

Arlington has accelerated its vaccination efforts recently thanks to more vaccine supply from the state, which is pushing to open appointments to the general public by next week. As of this morning, the county reached new seven-day highs for both vaccine shots administered and people fully vaccinated: an average of just over 2,700 shots per day and nearly 1,500 people fully vaccinated per day.

Nationally, the White House says it does not expect the pause in J&J shots to hinder its vaccination goals.

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Arlington’s rate of new coronavirus cases is continuing to hold relatively steady, as vaccinations continue as an accelerated clip.

The trailing seven-day total of new reported cases in the county has not been above 300 since Feb. 17. It also has not dropped below 199. As of today, it stands at 243 weekly cases.

Arlingtonians are continuing to get very sick as a result of the virus. Eight new COVID-related hospitalizations have been reported over the past week. No new deaths have been reported over the past six days, however.

Amid a backdrop of continued infection, vaccinations in Arlington are proceeding relatively quickly.

Nearly 10,000 new vaccination doses have been administered since Friday. With more vaccine supply from the state, Arlington is administering an average of more than 2,500 doses per day, as it tries to complete its Phase 1B and 1C vaccinations before appointments are opened to the general public next week.

After trailing neighboring Alexandria on vaccination stats for most of the year, Arlington is now ahead of the city to our south in terms of percentage of the population that has received at least one vaccine shot: 34.2% for Arlington compared to 32.6% for Alexandria. But Alexandria still has a higher full vaccination rate and just today announced that it is opening vaccinations to all residents ages 16+.

Still, the number of people fully vaccinated in Arlington has risen dramatically over the past couple of weeks.

A total of 41,573 people have been fully vaccinated — with one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — in the county, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

At the rate of new reported full vaccinations over the past week, it would take just over four months to fully vaccinate the remainder of Arlington’s adult population.

Of course, while Arlington has one of the highest rates of vaccine interest in the nation — 92% according to one study — there are still residents who may be reluctant to get the jab. To help increase vaccination rates, Arlington County Board and School Board members, as well as other local officials and hundreds of volunteers, canvassed the county on Saturday.

“Core members of the [Arlington Complete Vaccination Committee], along with over 250 volunteers, will be canvassing the County to share information with as many people as possible, utilizing yard signs, local businesses, door hangers and more,” the county said in a media advisory before the Saturday “day of action.”

“The Arlington County Public Health Division encourages all Arlington County residents 16 years old and older to pre-register now for the COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for Phase 2 of Virginia’s vaccination plan,” the county said.

Photo (top) by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II

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(Updated at 1 p.m.) Arlington County is a bit behind its neighbors, but nonetheless is entering Phase 1C of its COVID-19 vaccination effort.

Alexandria entered 1C earlier this week, and Fairfax County was accepting 1C appointments this morning. Arlington County’s vaccination website still says those in 1C are ineligible, but that is changing amid a surge of vaccine supply from the state.

“The long-awaited increase in supply has arrived,” said Cara O’Donnell, spokeswoman for Arlington’s Public Health Division. “We’re on track to administer 16,000 doses this week, and we have a very aggressive schedule for the next few weeks in order to meet the Governor’s guidelines for Phase 2 eligibility by the week of April 18.”

“If all goes well with supply, we hope to start sending 1C notifications by the end of this week,” O’Donnell told ARLnow Tuesday afternoon. That is coming to fruition perhaps earlier than anticipated.

“Arlington County has reached a watershed moment: we are inviting those in 1C and are making significant progress,” County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti posted on Facebook this morning.

At least one pre-registered Phase 1C worker associated with ARLnow received an email today to schedule a one-dose vaccination appointment at Arlington’s Lubber Run Community Center.

Phase 1C includes essential workers not covered in 1B — energy, water and waste removal workers; barbers, stylists and hairdressers; housing and construction workers; finance workers; information technology and communication workers; media personnel; food service employees; transportation and logistics employees; higher education faculty and staff; legal services providers; public safety engineers; and other public health workers, including administrators and researchers.

Arlington will pass 100,000 vaccination doses administered today — the number stands at 99,943 as of this morning, after another 1,500 doses were administered Tuesday. In all, 33,600 people have been fully vaccinated in Arlington, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

File photo

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Arlington County is speeding up its vaccination effort thanks to an increase in vaccine supply from the state.

The county revealed the vaccination news in a daily “COVID-19 update” email Friday afternoon, following Thursday’s announcement from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam that everyone in Virginia age 16 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine starting on Sunday, April 18.

The county will now work to accelerate through the current vaccination phase, 1B, as well as Phase 1C, which includes groups of other essential workers, before opening up to the general public in Phase 2.

“Based on an influx of vaccine supply at the state level, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has allocated an increase in local supply of vaccine to complete Arlington County’s aggressive vaccination schedule for the next three weeks in an effort to move to Phase 2,” the county wrote in the email.

“VDH has indicated all local health districts, including Arlington, will have enough vaccine to complete outreach to priority groups by the week of April 18,” the county continued. “Assuming that the necessary supply is received on schedule, we will hopefully then be able to reach Phase 2 open eligibility to the general public. Those at highest risk will continue to receive priority in the scheduling process.”

The county says it anticipates scheduling vaccinations for those in Phase 1C by mid-April, adding that Arlington is “committed to ensuring everyone on our priority pre-registration lists are notified to schedule appointments prior to going to Phase 2.”

As of Monday morning, 97,160 total vaccine doses have been administered in Arlington, and 32,706 people have been fully vaccinated, according to the state health department. Over the past week, an average of about 2,650 doses have been administered each day — a new local record, and nearly 2.5 times the vaccination rate one month ago.

Weekly COVID cases in Arlington, meanwhile, ticked up and hit a one-month high over the weekend. As of Sunday, 286 coronavirus cases had been reported over the past seven days, the highest seven-day total since March 2.

One additional COVID-related death was also reported over the weekend. No new hospitalizations were reported.

File photo (top)

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Gov. Ralph Northam today (Thursday) announced that all individuals in Virginia age 16 and older will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Sunday, April 18.

That is about two weeks ahead of President Joe Biden’s nationwide goal of expanding eligibility to the general public by May 1.

The news comes as nearly every Virginian in the highest risk groups who have pre-registered for a vaccine appointment has received one, and those still waiting will receive appointment invitations in the next two weeks, according to the Commonwealth.

More than 3.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Virginia, the state said, adding that about one in three adults have received at least one dose and one in five are fully vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel — and that light is getting brighter every day as more and more Virginians get vaccinated,” Northam said. “Expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults marks an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to put this pandemic behind us, and I thank all of the public health staff, health care workers, vaccinators, and volunteers who have helped make this possible.”

Arlington is currently averaging just over 2,200 doses administered per day — a new local record, though it still lags in fully vaccinated individuals per capita. According to data from the Virginia Department of Health, nearly 12% of Arlington’s population has been fully vaccinated, compared to 13.3% for Alexandria and 14.5% for Fairfax County.

“We have seen a bit of an increase in doses recently, and we continue to be optimistic that our supply will increase even more,” Arlington County Public Health Division spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell tells ARLnow.

As of March 29, there are upwards of 35,000 people pre-registered to receive the vaccine in Arlington, about 15,000 who cited complication risks and 19,000 who cited work-related exposure risks, Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese told the County Board in a work session on Tuesday.

“We’ve already reached out to all eligible residents who have pre-registered with the county,” said O’Donnell, in a vaccine Q&A video published today. “There have been quite a few cases where missing or incorrect info can make your record ineligible. Make sure your eligibility category is one of the one’s being scheduled. If you’ve tried everything and you think there’s a problem, let us know.”

Arlington County has been calling for more vaccine from the state. The Commonwealth, meanwhile, says it is distributing vaccine doses as quickly as they are provided by the federal government.

“Because the Commonwealth has followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize those at highest risk, and because Virginia is a large and diverse state with many essential workers, many out-of-state commuters, and a high percentage of the population that wants to be vaccinated, it has taken some time to open eligibility to the general public,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Phase 1C essential workers in 21 of Virginia’s 35 local health districts have been able to secure vaccination appointments, according to the release, and beginning April 4 districts that have invited everyone pre-registered in Phase 1C may invite members of the general public who have pre-registered to schedule appointments.

Arlington is still working through Phase 1B, recently expanding access to clergy and janitorial staff eligible in this phase, according to the County Board work session. Phase 1C essential workers and the general public are still ineligible.

Despite demand currently outstripping supply in places like Arlington, all local health districts will have enough vaccines to open appointments to the general public by April 18, according to the Commonwealth. Those at the highest risk will continue to be prioritized in the scheduling process.

Arlington County is still striving for a more equitable distribution of vaccination doses.

Varghese said his department is aware of disproportionalities in Arlington among those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Through March 27, more than 63% of Arlington residents and non-residents with at least one dose said they are non-Hispanic white. Meanwhile, Hispanic or Latino residents and non-residents make up 11% of those vaccinated and non-Hispanic Black Arlington residents and non-residents make up 7% of those vaccinated.

White people are slightly over-represented in vaccination rates compared to their proportion of the population, while Arlington residents who do not identify as white are slightly under-represented.

“All we can conclude right now is that this is who was able to get into the system,” Varghese said. “An Internet email system is going to disenfranchise some more than others, but it’s what the CDC had to put together.”

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