Arlington, VA

The rate of new reported COVID-19 cases in Arlington has ticked up over the past few days, while new hospitalizations remain low.

The overall number of coronavirus cases rose from 2,496 on Thursday to 2,533 today, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The trailing seven-day rate of new cases is now just under 10 per day, up from a low of six per day in late May.

No new COVID-related hospitalizations were reported over the weekend. Cumulative hospitalizations in Arlington stand at 421, while the trailing seven-day total of new hospitalizations stands at three. On Sunday, the statewide number of current COVID hospitalizations reached a new low in Virginia: 792.

In Arlington, meanwhile, the cumulative number of COVID-related deaths has not increased in more than a week.

On Friday, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, when asked about concerns regarding Virginia’s recent Phase 3 reopening, suggested to the Washington Post that officials were apprehensive.

“If you look at the data, we’re in pretty good shape,” Garvey told the Post. “Nobody’s enthusiastic [about the situation], but we need to figure out how to live with and be with this virus, and using the numbers seems to be the best way to do it.”

The uneasy reopening comes as Sun Belt states struggle with a surge of new virus cases that some experts say is a “second wave” of the disease. Other states that have, like Virginia, largely flattened their epidemic curve are also approaching reopening cautiously.

“Massachusetts may have flattened its coronavirus curve,” said a Boston Herald article Sunday, “but experts eyeing spikes across the Sun Belt are saying now is not the time to grow lax, warning that a second wave is ‘almost inevitable’ here and that it could have devastating health and economic impacts.”

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The rate of new COVID-19 infections in Arlington continues to drop.

Seventeen new cases have been reported since Friday, bringing the trailing seven-day infection total to 42 — an average of six per day. One new hospitalization has been reported since Friday and no new deaths have been reported, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Arlington’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, now stands at just 2.5%.

“It appears that wearing masks, social distancing, and being outside have had a very positive impact on the area,” Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Dr. Mike Silverman wrote Friday in a public social media post. “We’re still seeing patients that require COVID evaluations at a similar rate to the last couple of weeks but this remains well below the peak volumes we saw in April and we did not appear to see a bump in cases as a result of the protests.”

“COVID is not gone though I know some people think it is. It does appear to be less prevalent,” he added. “We’ve even seen a drop in the rate of our asymptomatic screening patients which gives me a sense for the prevalence in the general area.”

One area of concern is what might happen as Virginia enters Phase 3 of the reopening on Wednesday, allowing more people to gather indoors at restaurants and other businesses, albeit with masks required.

A surge in new coronavirus cases prompted Texas and Florida to close bars last week. A few hours from Arlington, bars have been temporarily closing on the Delaware shore as employees get sick, and Pittsburgh is banning alcohol consumption at bars starting Tuesday amid a spike in new cases.

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(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) Despite a mass-testing event a week ago, that saw nearly 1,000 people tested in one day, only 53 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Arlington over the past seven days.

That’s the lowest seven-day total since March 28, when only 75 cases had thus far been confirmed in the county as the outbreak got underway and testing was scarce.

As of Friday morning, Arlington had a cumulative total of 2,449 confirmed cases, 417 hospitalizations and 132 deaths, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. Four new cases and one new hospitalization were reported overnight. The total new hospitalizations over the past week currently stands at eight.

Five additional deaths were added to the count overnight, the largest daily increase since late May. Only one additional COVID-related death had been reported over the past week. Local officials say today’s increase is mostly due to a review of past data by the state health department.

“The reported jump is a result of a periodic review by VDH of the death certificate data it receives,” explained Arlington Public Health Division spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. “[It] reflects four cases from April and May. As VDH conducts these periodic reviews we expect to receive reports of additional deaths in conjunction with when these reviews take place.”

Arlington’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, has continue to fall with the mass testing event factored in. For lab-based PCR tests, the positivity rate currently stands at 3.6%.

Arlington and the rest of Virginia is set to enter Phase 3 of the reopening on Wednesday. Texas and Florida, meanwhile, have paused their reopening amid and “explosion” of cases there and across the South.

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For the fourth time in the past five days, the number of new coronavirus infections reported in Arlington today was in the single-digits.

The seven new confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded overnight brings the county’s cumulative total to 2,438 and its trailing seven-day total to 66, the lowest point since late March.

Only one new COVID hospitalization was reported today, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. It has been a week since the last time the county’s coronavirus death count changed — it currently stands at 126.

The demographics of those getting sick, meanwhile, have been shifting younger. Those ages 10-29 accounted for 18.6% of all reported infections in Arlington four weeks ago. As of Tuesday, that age range accounted for 20.6% of all cases, with the 20-29 range responsible for the biggest shift.

By contrast, the proportion of infections among those ages 30-39 has not changed. Infections among those ages 60+ have decreased from 28.8% to 26.9% of all local cases.

All of Virginia is set to enter Phase 3 of the reopening next Wednesday, July 1.

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(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) The rates of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Arlington have hit new lows, though expanding outbreaks elsewhere in the country raise questions about how long the declines will last.

Only 28 new COVID-19 cases have been reported since Friday, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The trailing seven-day total of new cases is now 78, the lowest mark since April 4.

Three new COVID-related hospitalizations have been reported since Friday, bringing the trailing seven-day hospitalization total down to just seven, the lowest hospitalization rate since ARLnow started tracking such data in April.

No new coronavirus deaths were reported over the weekend.

As of Monday morning, VDH listed a cumulative total of 2,424 cases, 412 hospitalizations and 126 deaths in Arlington. The county’s coronavirus test positivity rate is now just 5.3%, another new low.

The declining outbreak has been noticeable in the emergency room, according to a public Facebook post from Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman.

“This was a good week for our ED,” Silverman wrote. “Our COVID isolation patient volume (the way we track patients in the computer) did not increase compared to last week. Our admission rate was actually lower than it’s been in months for this patient group and our percent positive rate is dropping.”

Silverman, however, noticed a new trend: many of those enjoying the newfound freedom of going out to bars and restaurants are partying hard.

“In many ways, it resembled a typical summer weekend,” Silverman wrote about the first weekend of Virginia’s Phase 2 reopening, which started on Friday, June 12. “We had traumas, lots of alcohol related illness, and psychiatric patients. What was unusual from the alcohol perspective was the number of highly intoxicated people who were brought directly from bars. People partied hard. What was equally concerning were the reports we were getting from medics about bars being packed shoulder to shoulder with people and no one wearing masks.”

A Twitter user noted one such scene in Clarendon this weekend.

Among the states with expanding outbreaks, a common thread is that the upward momentum seems to have started with reopening. And the new cases are skewing younger, suggesting that bars and social gatherings may be playing a role.

So far, the data here has continued trending positive and Arlington — as well as Northern Virginia as a whole — has not seen the reopening uptick other states and localities have experienced. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, meanwhile, is still holding off on moving the reopening to Phase 3, which some experts fear could be the catalyst that pushes cases and hospitalizations back up.

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Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus deaths in Arlington are attributable to long-term care facilities, new data from the Virginia Dept. of Health shows.

After long resisting calls to release such data, the state health department today published a list of facilities that have current or past COVID-19 outbreaks, along with the number of cases and deaths at each facility.

Among seven long-term care facilities in Arlington, there were a total of 489 cases and 92 deaths. That’s 20% of all cases (2,396) and 73% of all deaths (126) reported in Arlington as of Friday.

The individual figures for each facility are below.

  • Brookdale Assisted Living: 49 cases, 10 deaths
  • Cherrydale Health and Rehabilitation Center: 143 cases, 28 deaths
  • Manor Care Health Services: 87 cases, 15 deaths
  • Regency Care of Arlington: 137 cases, 30 deaths
  • Sunrise at Bluemont Park: 14 cases*
  • Sunrise of Arlington: 21 cases*
  • The Jefferson: 38 cases, 9 deaths

For both Sunrise facilities in Arlington, VDH did not list a death count “to preserve anonymity.”

Federal data for nursing homes, released at the end of May and reported by ARLnow earlier this week, mostly contained lower counts than that just released by VDH, with the exception of an erroneous overreporting of deaths at Pentagon City-based Regency Care.

In Arlington, all but 10 of the coronavirus-related deaths have been among those ages 60 and above, though those younger can still face serious, potentially long-term health consequences from infections.

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(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) The county and the Commonwealth are holding a second mass testing event today, as Arlington’s coronavirus data continues to point in a positive direction.

The free testing event, open to anyone regardless of whether they have symptoms or a doctor’s note, is being held from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Barcroft sports complex (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive). Large crowds, including those in cars and on foot, were lined up in advance of the start of testing this morning.

As of 9 a.m., at least half of the available tests had already been given, with about 500 remaining. As of 12:45 p.m., all of the remaining tests had been administered.

Overnight an additional 14 coronavirus cases were reported in Arlington, bringing the county’s cumulative total to 2,396. No new deaths nor hospitalizations were reported. As of Thursday, the trailing total of new weekly cases was 83, the lowest since April 4.

Testing, meanwhile, has seen a slight uptick recently, with the seven-day moving average now standing at about 242 tests per day in the county. The average test positivity rate has continued to trend down and now stands at 5.7%, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

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Update on 6/19/20 — Based on new data from the Virginia Dept. of Health, the actual number of deaths at Regency Care is 30.

Earlier: Local nursing homes have reported dozens of coronavirus cases and deaths, federal data shows.

As the number of new COVID-19 cases in Arlington continues to rise at a relative trickle — nine new cases and no new hospitalizations reported overnight — a look back at data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows the outsized role some nursing homes played during the peak of Arlington’s outbreak.

As of May 31, four nursing homes alone contributed 178 cases and 98 deaths to Arlington’s total, according to the CMS data, though there are some questions about the numbers, as noted below. The county’s cumulative total currently stands at 2,372 cases, 407 hospitalizations and 124 deaths.

The four Arlington nursing homes for which CMS data was available:

  • Cherrydale Health and Rehabilitation Center (3710 Lee Highway): 82 confirmed cases, 8 related deaths
  • The Jefferson (900 N. Taylor Street): 10 confirmed cases, 6 related deaths
  • Manorcare (550 S. Carlin Springs Road): 13 confirmed cases, 1 related death
  • Regency Care (1785 S. Hayes Street): 73 confirmed cases, 83 related deaths

The numbers for Regency Care seemingly do not add up, with more COVID-related deaths (83) than confirmed cases (73). Multiple attempts by ARLnow to reach an administrator at the Pentagon City facility prior to the publication of this article were unsuccessful and Arlington’s health department declined multiple requests for clarification, citing “patient privacy laws.” Other news reports suggest that the CMS data is “riddled with errors.”

However, ARLnow has received numerous tips about the facility since the start of the pandemic.

“Thought the public should know… the nursing home Regency Care of Arlington had a huge COVID outbreak on the 5th floor,” said one tipster in early April. “This is something terrible.”

“Regency Care of Arlington nursing home has the highest amount of COVID cases in Arlington with well over 100 cases,” another tipster said, in May. The assertion of over 100 cases could not be confirmed and is not shown in the CMS data, which was last updated on May 31.

On Wednesday afternoon, a woman identifying herself as the administrator of Regency Care called ARLnow and asserted that the number of deaths reported by CMS was inaccurate. She chastised ARLnow for publishing this article and for taking photos of the outside of the facility without the company’s permission. She declined numerous requests to provide the accurate number of deaths at the facility and abruptly hung up the phone.

Local and state authorities in Virginia have repeatedly declined to provide data on specific facilities.

“As a health district under [the Virginia Dept. of Health], we are unable to provide or confirm patient data at individual long term care facilities due to patient privacy laws,” said Arlington County spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. She noted that the county has been working with nursing homes, assisted living centers and other such facilities to mitigate outbreaks.

“Working with long-term care facilities is an ongoing priority for Arlington Public Health, and our team works with skilled nursing and assisted living facilities throughout the year to control and prevent outbreaks, such as norovirus and the seasonal flu, even prior to COVID,” O’Donnell said. “Arlington Public Health has been working with these facilities to implement CDC and VDH guidance for COVID-19 infection control and prevention measures, including things like monitoring residents and staff for signs and symptoms of COVID, providing guidance on proper PPE and cleaning/disinfecting protocols.”

A county webpage on the topic says that the majority of COVID-19 deaths in Arlington have occurred at long-term care facilities.

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The Barcroft sports complex in Arlington will again host a free coronavirus testing event this week.

More than 1,100 people were tested at the last mass testing event there, on May 26. Testing ended early after the event, which is sponsored by the state, ran out of tests.

The facility at 4200 S. Four Mile Drive will be again hosting a testing event open to anyone, with or without COVID-19 symptoms, this Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. — or until tests run out. Both in-car and walk-up testing will be offered. There is no charge and no need for a doctor’s note or identification.

Drivers should expect traffic congestion in the area.

Another 17 confirmed coronavirus cases and two hospitalizations were reported in Arlington overnight, for a cumulative total of 2,363 cases, 407 hospitalizations and 125 deaths.

More on the testing event from a county press release:

To continue testing opportunities and limit community spread in areas disproportionately affected by COVID-19, Arlington County will host another one-day free COVID-19 testing event sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The event will take place Friday, June 19 and will again be held at Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center (4200 S. Four Mile Run Dr.). Tests will be conducted on both a drive-through and walk-up basis beginning at 8:00 a.m. and continuing until 4:00 p.m. or until tests run out.

“Our first large-scale testing event at Barcroft was very successful in providing access to those residents who may not otherwise be able to obtain testing and information,” said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington Public Health Director. “These are residents who may be at higher risk of exposure, and so we wanted to offer another opportunity to reach as many of these residents as we can through this effort.”

This testing event is free of charge and does not require individuals to be symptomatic or have a previous appointment or doctor’s note. No identification is required. On-site translation will be available. Following the event, all attendees will be notified by phone with results as they become available.

Everyone visiting the testing site should wear a face covering. Attendees, especially those who walk to the testing site, should prepare for warmer weather and potentially long wait times by bringing water to stay hydrated and wearing sunscreen and light-colored clothing. The event will be held rain or shine; in case of dangerous inclement weather, officials may need to end testing early for safety.

This site is for COVID-19 viral testing only; antibody tests will not be available at this location. The Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center and surrounding parks property will be closed to all recreational activities, and there will be no public access outside those receiving testing.

Arlington County’s first large-scale testing site on this location occurred in May, during which nearly 1,200 individuals were tested. Additionally, the County’s walk-up COVID-19 sample collection site at the Arlington Mill Community Center in partnership with Arlington Free Clinic as well as the drive-through sample collection site in partnership with Virginia Hospital Center are both ongoing and accepting appointments.

Residents can learn more about COVID-19, including where to access testing, tips to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, how to pursue financial assistance, and more by visiting arlingtonva.us/covid-19 or calling 703-228-7999.

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Arlington’s coronavirus data continues to look good, even while a resurgence of cases in the U.S. and China weighs on the stock market.

“The second wave has begun,” one medical school professor told CNBC today. But even while 22 states — mostly in the west and the Sun Belt — report an acceleration of new cases, Arlington and Virginia are looking to be in good shape, for now.

No new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Arlington over the weekend. In fact, no new COVID-19 deaths were reported in all of Northern Virginia on Sunday, the first time that has happened since April 6.

As of Monday morning, Arlington has reported a cumulative total of 2,346 cases, 405 hospitalizations and 125 deaths. The seven-day trailing total of new cases and hospitalizations now stands at 90 and 13 respectively.

Arlington and Northern Virginia entered “Phase 2” of the reopening on Friday, allowing restaurants and gyms to open indoor spaces for the first time since March.

Arlington’s seven-day trailing average daily testing and positivity rates, meanwhile, currently stand at 220 tests per day and 6.6% respectively. The latter represents a new low in the county’s test positivity rate.

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For now, the coronavirus epidemic in Arlington appears to be largely under control, albeit still infecting new patients.

Overnight the Virginia Dept. of Health reported eight new cases, one new hospitalization and one new death in Arlington. The trailing seven-day total of new cases and hospitalizations is 134 and 12 respectively.

Hospitalizations previously peaked at 92 per week.

Testing has ticked down but the positivity rate remains under 10%. There are about 225 PCR-based tests being conducted each day in the county, and the current seven-day moving average positivity rate is 8.2%

Statewide, the rate of new daily cases continues to fall in Virginia, despite a rise in hospitalizations in a dozen states across the country.

In Arlington, there have been a cumulative total of 2,307 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 397 hospitalizations and 125 deaths as of Friday morning.

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