Arlington, VA

Arlington County will be conducting its first mass vaccination event this weekend.

On Saturday, starting around 9 a.m., about 1,500 people will receive doses of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive). The recently-built community center is just a few blocks from Ballston.

While Arlington has been vaccinating people by the hundreds at a county office building, sometimes leading to long lines, this is the first instance of what the county is calling a “mass vaccination clinic.” (Vaccinations have also been taking place at the Walter Reed Community Center.)

Only those pre-registered for the vaccine on the state’s Vaccinate Virginia website and scheduled for the clinic will receive doses. No walk-ups will be offered.

Arlington is currently vaccinating residents 65 and older, as well as those 18-64 with certain medical conditions. Some frontline workers are also being vaccinated.

County officials described the mass vaccination event as a “pilot” that will establish a new distribution point and help speed vaccine distribution down the road.

“This single-dose vaccine may be desirable for people who want to complete their immunization schedule quickly, do not want to return for a second dose, or have difficulty returning for a second dose,” said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington County Public Health Director, in a press release. “This also gives us an opportunity to pilot operations at a new vaccination site for potential future use in vaccine administration.”

“This new vaccine option will provide increased opportunity for our community, particularly those who may have difficulty in scheduling a second dose of the vaccine,” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “We want everyone to know that our goal is to get as many vaccines distributed each week as possible. This pilot site reinforces our ability to scale our vaccine rollout quickly and efficiently as new supply becomes available.”

The 1,500 doses of the J&J vaccine offered Saturday is in addition to Arlington’s weekly allotment of about 3,000 first doses of the other, two-dose COVID-19 vaccines from the state.

To date, nearly 40,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Arlington County, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) Virginia localities are set to start receiving the new Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine next week, thus helping to boost supply in the Commonwealth.

But one group that had been poised to start being vaccinated soon has been bumped further down the priority list: Arlington County employees.

The entire county workforce is being considered to be within the “Continuity of Government” category, and thus is still part of the Virginia “1b” priority group and ahead of the general public. But county employees have now been bumped down below those with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Since my last note to you on this, the Governor has made changes to the prioritization which has moved certain categories of 1B essential workers, including those in Continuity of Government, further down the list for vaccines,” County Manager Mark Schwartz wrote in a recent memo (below) to county workers. “Individuals 16 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions are now ahead of Continuity of Government workers. This means that there are now about 20,000 Arlington residents ahead of County employees in the queue.”

“The County’s Public Health Division continues only to receive approximately 3,000 first doses per week,” Schwartz continues. “We simply do not have enough vaccine to meet the demand yet. Based on current guidance on prioritization and vaccine supply, it is unlikely that we will begin any employee vaccinations until early April.”

On average, just over 1,100 COVID-19 vaccination doses per day have been administered in Arlington over the past week, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. VDH says the new J&J vaccine should help increase supply across the state.

“On Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a new vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. The EUA allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for those 18 and older,” the health department said in a press release. “Virginia is expected to receive 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, which will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state.”

Those who are eligible can pre-register for vaccinations at the state’s new Vaccinate Virginia web portal.

Despite the lack of supply right now, Arlington is working to make sure as many eligible people as possible register to be vaccinated. To that end, the county is trying to recruit local organizations to partner with the health department and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

“We’re trying to get more organizations to become Complete Vaccination Committee (CVC) partners,” county spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith tells ARLnow. “Over the weekend, CVC members were out in the community at five different locations, getting people pre-registered for the vaccine.”

Organizations can sign up to become partners via this form.

Among the list of current partners is the Arlington County Democratic Committee, which is using its organizational infrastructure for getting residents registered to vote and driving them to the polls to do the same for seniors and vaccinations.

“In election cycles, we are the [Arlington Democrats] ‘Rides to the Polls’ team, but now we’ve put our operation to work to help seniors in a different way,” said Mary Byrne, a co-leader of the volunteer effort. “We are grateful that [Arlington Democrats] allowed us to use their database to access a list of both Dems and Republican seniors. Our volunteer list of more than 50 callers and drivers is growing and we’ve already called hundreds and helped dozens of seniors in the one week we’ve been in operation.”

Their list includes more than 6,000 Arlington seniors 75 years and older, Byrne said. The volunteers help with vaccination registration, scheduling and transportation.

More information on the “Ride to Vaccines” vaccine program can be found online or by calling (703) 528-8588 ext 5.

Image via Arlington County/YouTube

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Arlington County officials say names of people pre-registered to receive a coronavirus vaccine are still migrating into the state’s new Vaccinate Virginia system.

It has been more than one week since Arlington County shut down its pre-registration platform to send 41,000 names to the Virginia Department of Health’s new statewide platform. The delay means that for now, some pre-registered individuals may not see their registration status. But that does not mean the pre-registrations have gone missing, county spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell said in an email.

“At no time were any lists ‘lost,'” O’Donnell said. “All data still exists, and the County is in the process of rolling out vaccine scheduling notification to residents 65+.”

This applies to about 10,000 pre-registered individuals 65 and older, she said.

Many pre-registrations have not merged due to formatting problems, state health department spokesperson Logan Anderson said. For example, some data fields were case sensitive, which he said has been addressed.

“Data cleanup is an ongoing process, and they may show up in the system,” he said. “There were also 1.6 million entries transferred in total. After cleanup and de-duplication, that number dropped to about 1.2 million.”

Arlington County shut down its pre-registration system at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 to start sending its names to VDH, O’Donnell said.

“As we’ve seen, that migration process is taking longer than anticipated, and we are in constant communication with VDH about the migration,” she said.

She said county officials are hearing that one feature of the state system in particular, called “Check the List,” is not working for many lookups.

“This is not an indication that these people are not in the system,” she said. “Many actually are, but the checking the list feature is still experiencing difficulties.”

While some ARLnow readers report that their registration has yet to transfer, others say their problems last week were resolved, or that they re-registered.

One woman who could not find her three family members’ statuses last week told ARLnow that “all three family members registered as 1B with Arlington in mid-January now appear with VDH as ‘This user is registered.'”

Another woman who spoke with ARLnow last week confirmed that after she and her husband decided to re-register.

“Since then we show up in the system, but we have no real way of knowing whether our original Jan. 9 registration with Arlington County is part of the consolidated list, or whether we moved to the back of the line,” she said.

The Commonwealth is encouraging people to re-register online or call the Vaccinate Virginia call center at (877) VAX-IN-VA, Anderson said.

During a County Board work session last week, Board Member Christian Dorsey said the system’s issues are basic and should have been tested before the launch.

“It’s creating a really huge burden on the local districts to basically provide customer service and complaint feedback on the state’s site,” Dorsey said. “This is an implicit unfunded mandate to fix through customer service and other forms a state-mandated issue.”

Arlington Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said he and his colleagues across the state have been giving the state “more than an earful about the impact that this has been having.”

“It should have been working from the minute that it opened up,” he said.

Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said the county will continue to work with people worried about their status.

“If you’re pre-registered, take some days and up to a week before you do anything — take a breath,” de Ferranti said. “We have a committed staff and we will reach out.”

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Morning Notes

Vaccine Registration Transfer Still in Progress — “We are aware that many Arlington residents who preregistered through the County system are unable to find themselves in the ‘Check the List’ feature. Data migration is continuing throughout the week and it may take several more days for your name to appear in the centralized system.” [Arlington County]

No Rolling Stops for Va. Cyclists Yet — “The Virginia Senate on Wednesday sidelined a proposal that would have allowed bicyclists to yield instead of halt at stop signs. Instead, lawmakers voted to commission a police study of the rule as enacted in other states. They also voted to require drivers to change lanes when passing bicyclists if three feet of distance isn’t possible and to allow two cyclists to ride side by side in a lane.” [Washington Post]

County Offering Emergency Training in Spanish — “To ensure a more equitable, culturally competent response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies, the Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management and Arlington CERT are launching their first-ever Spanish-language Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer training.” [Arlington County]

First Non-Airline Lounge Coming to DCA — “A lot is changing at Reagan National Airport, and one of the new additions will be an American Express Centurion passenger lounge, the first non-airline passenger lounge at the airport. Reagan National will be the 16th U.S. airport to have a Centurion Lounge. The 11,500-square-foot lounge will open by the end of 2022.” [WTOP]

Gate 35X Replacement Opening Soon — “Airport officials have long planned to replace the 35X bussing system with a proper 14-gate concourse. So here’s some good news: looks like it will happen sooner rather than later. Airline Weekly reports that the American Airlines concourse will open three months earlier than anticipated. Turns out that the decline in air traffic during the pandemic helped accelerated construction work. It’s now slated to open as soon as April 20.” [Washingtonian]

GoTab Continues on Growth Path — “Industry-leading restaurant commerce platform GoTab has appointed sales and hospitality technology veteran John Martin as the company’s new Chief Revenue Officer. With over 30+ years of experience working with both brick-and-mortar restaurants and food technology systems, Martin has been a force in helping hyper growth startups with go-to-market strategy as well as helping CEOs develop approaches to accelerate sales and launch new products.” [Press Release]

Poems on ART Buses — “This year’s Moving Words Adult Competition 2021 Six winning poems were selected from 211 poems by this year’s judge, Arlington’s 2nd Poet Laureate Holly Karapetkova, who also has a poem on display. View the poems below and on Arlington’s ART buses from February through September 2021.” [Arlington Arts]

Beyer Gets Out-of-This-World Chairmanship — “Late last week, Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology elected Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) to serve as Chair of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics for the 117th Congress.” [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Arlington’s vaccination effort is continuing at a steady pace, but it could still be months before the majority of local residents are eligible to be vaccinated.

As of this morning, 26,180 vaccine doses have been administered in Arlington, and 7,549 people have received both vaccine shots, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. About 750 doses per day have been administered over the past week. At the current rate of second doses, it would take 481 days to fully vaccinate the remainder of Arlington’s adult population.

With a new one-shot vaccine likely to be approved for use soon, and with the federal government securing more vaccine supply, the rate of vaccinations will eventually quicken. Still, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti says it could be months before the vaccine is available for anyone who wants it in Arlington — which, by one account, is around 96% of the population.

“We will get you vaccinated but it will take time. My best guess is 2-3 months to get through 65 to 74 and underlying medical conditions [groups],” de Ferranti said in an email to constituents today. “Another 2 months after that to get to everyone. I think by July 1 or August 1 most everyone will have been vaccinated. I could be wrong, but that is my best guess.”

On Friday, Arlington County started scheduling appointments for the 65-74 age group, after previously focusing on those who are 75 and older or in certain categories of essential workers, like teachers. CVS stores in Virginia, including in Arlington, also started administering vaccines to those 65 and older on Friday.

Arlington is trying to make the most of the vaccine it is receiving from the state, de Ferranti said.

“We received 2,750 vaccines per week, for a total of 5,500 over the last two weeks,” he writes. “Half of those doses go to the 65 and above group. The other half go to those in the essential workers list in [Phase] 1b… Every few days, we will email another group of 2,000 or so from the list to schedule vaccination appointments.”

Despite the progress, challenges remain, including getting more people registered.

“There are about 10,000 Arlington residents who have pre-registered in our system,” de Ferranti wrote. “There are thousands of additional Arlington residents who are between 65 and 74 who have not yet registered. (Arlington population over 65 in total is more 21,000. Some are over 75 and have been served.)”

Another challenge: a switch from a county-run vaccination system to a new state-run system that launched this morning.

“All individuals who have previously filled out a survey or form or signed up for a waitlist to be vaccinated through their local health district will be automatically imported into the new statewide system,” the state said on its website. “Individuals will maintain their current status in the queue, and will be able to search that they are in the new system starting Tuesday morning.”

However, a number of people emailed ARLnow today to report that a search of the new system did not pull up their registration. One Arlington resident who pre-registered three family members with the county said all three were apparently lost.

“I called the state Virginia COVID vaccine phone line (877-275-8343). The agent told me that ‘so many’ are calling with the same problem,” the resident told ARLnow shortly after noon today. “She said the only thing to do is start the registration all over again… going to the bottom of the queue. I asked to speak to a supervisor, was on hold for 30 minutes, then disconnected.”

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(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) CVS locations in Virginia, including in Arlington, will start administering COVID-19 vaccines tomorrow (Friday).

CVS pharmacies across the Commonwealth are fully booked with appointments, which are for now open to residents 65 and older.

More from a Virginia Dept. of Health press release (link added by ARLnow):

VDH worked closely with CVS over the last week to ensure that the CVS system follows Virginia’s priority guidelines and to provide an advance opportunity for eligible individuals already registered on VDH waiting lists. However, due to technological limitations with their national appointment system, CVS is unable to reserve appointments for pre-registered individuals. Virginia will continue to work towards a solution in partnership with other participating states and the federal government.

The federal program will supplement existing vaccination programs by providing 26,000 more vaccines to Virginians. CVS is the first of Virginia’s pharmacy partners in the federal pharmacy partnership to move forward with vaccinations. More pharmacies and more locations are expected to start vaccinating patients in the future.

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination is a public-private partnership, between pharmacy companies and the federal government. Pharmacy companies receive vaccines directly from the federal government through the partnership program. Initially, the federal government asked states to limit distribution to one pharmacy chain partner. CVS Health is the initial pharmacy partner for the program in Virginia.

The appointment for the second vaccination will be made when the first vaccination appointment is scheduled. Those without online access can contact CVS Customer Service at (800) 746-7287. Walk-in vaccinations without an appointment will not be provided.

Those who were unable to book appointments, when CVS unexpectedly opened vaccine registration early, described the process as “really frustrating.”

With county-run vaccinations still constrained by limited supply from the state, the CVS vaccinations promise to provide a bit of a relief valve amid high demand in Arlington, which has the highest percentage of residents willing to be vaccinated in the country, at 92%.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and leaders in the District and Maryland, meanwhile, are pushing the federal government to vaccinate more D.C. area federal employees.

Vaccinations in Arlington are continuing apace, with an additional 651 doses reported to have been administered, for a cumulative total of 12,440 doses, in the latest figures from the Virginia Dept. of Health. The seven-day moving average is 888 doses per day in the county.

The figures for second doses, a measure of completed vaccinations, have been rising. At the current rate of second administered doses, Arlington’s entire adult population would be fully vaccinated in 533 days, a number that has continued to fall over the past several weeks.

County officials say that, as of last week, Arlington’s health department has administered 10,184 first doses of 11,425 received, as well as 1,037 second doses of 3,300 received.

An Arlington Public Health spokeswoman emphasized that those with vaccination appointments should not show up early, to help prevent the kind of lines seen during vaccination events this past weekend.

“We have individuals arriving an hour or more ahead of their appointment times,” the spokeswoman said.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Confusion Over CVS Vaccine Reservations — “The confusion began early Tuesday morning, with people reaching out to ABC7 to express their frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine registration process at CVS pharmacies in Virginia. ‘They didn’t do what they said they were going to do, and it’s just really frustrating,’ said Roxanne Grandis, who’s been trying to make vaccine appointments for her elderly parents.” [WJLA]

Some Kudos For County Vaccination Effort — “Virginia’s been struggling for weeks to administer vaccine doses. Out of the 1.38 million doses the Commonwealth received, officials only injected 1.1 million. That’s roughly 80%. Meanwhile, Arlington County is setting the standard at 97%. How did they do it? With other areas struggling, how did Arlington Public Health succeed on all levels? Local officials say it’s been a team effort.” [The Dogwood]

Chase Young’s Arlington Connection — “Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young, whose father was in law enforcement, testified before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, expressing support for police reform… Young, named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday, grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, but his father spent 22 years as a police officer in Arlington, Virginia.” [ESPN]

Arlington Man Running for Governor — “Another Northern Virginia executive is joining the Republican race for governor. Peter Doran of Arlington said Tuesday he is seeking this year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination. It is his first run for office.” [Associated Press]

Arlington Dems Eye High Rises — “Mid-rise and high-rise living represents a large swath of the Arlington population, and ‘many of them are inaccessible to outside groups,’ said Carol Fontein, who heads the robust precinct-operations efforts of Arlington Democrats. As a result, the party aims to recruit those living in multi-family complexes to help with outreach – within the limits set by owners of the properties.” [InsideNova]

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) COVID-19 vaccinations have reached a new peak in Arlington, but the effort has led to lines at one county vaccination site.

Nearly 5,000 doses have been administered in Arlington over the past four days, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The seven-day trailing average of doses administered is now just shy of 900 per day, a new record for the county.

In all, 20,675 doses have been administered, and 4,495 people have been fully vaccinated in Arlington, according to VDH data. The latter represents about 2% of the county’s population.

On Friday and Saturday, those eligible to be vaccinated under Virginia’s Phase 1b group — many of them elderly — flocked to the Arlington County Dept. of Human Services building at Sequoia Plaza (2110 Washington Blvd) to receive their vaccination shots. That led to some reports of crowding.

“Waiting in an outrageous line with my 80 year father to get his COVID vaccine,” one tipster told ARLnow on Friday. “His appointment was for 1:45 p.m. — and the 1:30 group [is] still wrapped around the parking lot. These are ELDERLY PEOPLE standing around for 30+ minutes… maybe 2 or 3 chairs among the entire group. Unacceptable.”

On Saturday morning, the crowding apparently was such that Arlington Transit buses were rerouted in order to avoid the area.

Cara O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the county’s health division, said the lines were the result of a full vaccination schedule, people showing up early to their appointments, the need for social distancing, and other factors.

“It’s taking us a bit longer to process all of our clients today, as it’s a full schedule,” O’Donnell told ARLnow on Saturday. “Quite a few require additional assistance and we’re careful to ensure we take the time we need with each client. From what I’m hearing, that’s leading to some car backups. Our staff and volunteers are working to get through as efficiently as we can.”

Arlington County is getting 2,750 first vaccine doses per week from the state, O’Donnell said. Many of the other doses being reported by VDH are second doses. Virginia Hospital Center and other hospitals are no longer receiving first doses from the Commonwealth, but hospitals still have second doses on hand.

“VHC has been very intentional in managing our existing vaccine supply to ensure that all individuals who received a first dose through VHC will receive their second,” a hospital spokesperson told ARLnow on Friday. “The Hospital is continuing to provide second doses to individuals at our community vaccine clinic, to Arlington Free Clinic patients, and to those staff and healthcare workers who received their first dose at Virginia Hospital Center.”

In all, about 2,000 of the doses administered in Arlington over the past four days have been second doses. There are more awaiting eager arms: Arlington has received 32,825 doses, according to the state health department, meaning 12,150 doses have yet to be administered.

“Available data from scientific studies of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continue to support the use of two doses of each authorized vaccine at specified intervals,” the hospital spokesperson said. “The use of one dose administration is not supported by adequate scientific evidence at this time.”

The quickened pace of vaccinations comes amid a backdrop of Arlington’s coronavirus caseload remaining in the 400-600 cases per week range.

Just under 500 new cases have been reported over the past week, bringing the cumulative total of confirmed cases in Arlington to 12,262 as of Monday morning. Six additional deaths and 13 hospitalizations have been reported over the past week, bringing the county’s pandemic total to 207 deaths and 742 hospitalizations.

Arlington’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, has been declining over the past couple of weeks and currently stands at 6.1%.

While vaccine supply remains constrained, some health experts are encouraging officials to start planning for an abundance of vaccine supply in the spring, as tens of millions of additional doses become available.

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(Updated 4 p.m.) Officials with Arlington County Public Health Division say they are not wasting coronavirus vaccine doses, but they also do not condone people getting vaccinated out of turn.

During a COVID-19 work session on Tuesday, County Board members told health division staff that their constituents frequently express concerns about line-jumping by those who do not currently qualify for vaccinations under Virginia Dept. of Health’s Phase 1b guidelines.

“Everyone knows someone who isn’t in the 75-plus category or the personnel identified yet but got vaccinated because their eye doctor, brother or psychiatrist,” Board member Katie Cristol said, listing the kinds of connections that people are allegedly using.

Arlington County Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese acknowledged those fears but said that, amid everything else that’s going on, officials do not have the capacity to verify these claims. Staff members do remove people from vaccine appointments if they notice something unusual, he said.

“I have to believe that Americans as a whole and residents in Arlington are going to be truthful and not line-jump,” Varghese said. “I know people are going to say ‘you’re being naive,’ but we don’t chip people and we don’t have a national health system that we can track people. The vast majority of people have done the right thing, and because of what we’re doing in Arlington, we don’t have the conditions where I think line-jumping is going to be as likely as other places.”

Meanwhile, total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county have reached 11,867, with 61 new cases and three new hospitalizations as of this morning (Wednesday). The seven-day trailing average of new cases has fallen over the past few days, and currently stands at about 65 cases per day, after peaking at nearly 125 daily cases three weeks ago.

“This [wave] has doubled, if not more than doubled, what we’ve been seeing in the past,” Varghese said.

Last week, Jan. 24-30, about 6,500 tests turned up 482 positive results, said Aaron Miller, the county’s emergency management director. The test positivity rate remains at 7.5%, which is high compared to most of the pandemic, he said.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, Arlington County has received 26,725 vaccine doses. The newest shipment of 2,700 doses came Monday, for a total of 9,775 doses to the health division, compared to the 16,675 total doses that have gone to Virginia Hospital Center, County Manager Mark Schwartz said. He added the online dashboard might be off by about 200 doses.

The county is also starting to prepare for a new distribution method: Yesterday, the federal government announced it will start sending vaccines to select pharmacies next week.

“Now our job is to go back to the state and figure out what it means for the state and for Arlington,” Miller said.

Varghese also refuted the claim of wasted doses. Last week’s use rate — shown in the graphic below — was so close to 100% that it “pushed the envelope,” he said. Currently, he tries to reserve 10% for the start of the next week, as new shipments come either on Monday or Tuesday.

He said if vaccines are close to expiring, the county picks groups lower down the 1B prioritization list to vaccinate. That way, the county does not encourage loitering outside the clinic at 2100 Washington Blvd. or near grocery stores for chance doses, which “creates other problems,” he said.

(The 1b group includes “Persons aged 75 and older; Police, Fire, and Hazmat; Corrections and homeless shelter workers; Childcare/K-12 Teachers/Staff; Food and Agriculture (including Veterinarians); Manufacturing; Grocery store workers; Public transit workers; Mail carriers (USPS and private); Officials needed to maintain continuity of government.”)

Meanwhile, staff members have scheduled around 1,900 appointments for those 75 and older who had their VHC appointments canceled. Of the 3,200 people in this category, about 3,000 have been contacted. They are also contacting people 75 and older who were not in the hospital’s system.

This is the only group for whom the county is rescheduling appointments at this time, Varghese said.

Those who are 65 to 74 years old or 18 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions should pre-register with the county, regardless of whether they had appointments with VHC.

Once people arrive at the county’s clinic, at the Sequoia Plaza office complex near Route 50 and Washington Blvd, they are greeted by a team of volunteers and nurses. According to a behind-the-scenes video from the county, between 50% and 75% of the staff manning the vaccine clinics are volunteers.

“I know there are frustrating things going on across the country and even in Arlington, but I promise once you get here you’ll have a great experience, and you’ll help end the pandemic just by getting a vaccine,” said Dallas Smith, the site director for the Arlington County Vaccination Pod, in the video.

File photo

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The coronavirus continues to circulate in Arlington, as vaccinations continue at a moderate pace.

The latest data from the Virginia Dept. of Health, as of Feb. 1, shows a pace of infections that is down from last month’s peak, but remains elevated compared to the relatively quiet summer and early fall.

Over the past seven days exactly 500 new cases have been reported in Arlington, down from the peak fo 864 on Jan. 12. One new COVID-related death has been reported since Friday — bringing the county’s total to 201 — and 14 new hospitalizations have been reported over the past seven days.

The number of new daily cases was in the double digits each of the previous seven days; the last time that happened, without days reaching the triple digits, was early December.

A slight reduction in cases was noted by Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman in his weekly public social media post Friday night.

“There is some good news on the COVID volume front,” he wrote. “The number of patients that we have in the hospital is down another 10% from last week. Our overall, hospital positivity rate is up a touch compared to last week but much lower than a few weeks. In the Emergency department, our COVID isolation numbers are down 10% or so as well.”

Silverman noted that vaccinations appear to be working — he’s unaware of any hospital staff more than 10 days out from their second vaccine dose that have tested positive for the virus — but the rate of vaccinations is much lower than public demand.

According to VDH data, an average of 638 vaccine doses per day have been administered in Arlington over the past week. Only 1,205 locals are reported to be fully vaccinated, though that data may exclude Arlington’s sizable population of federal employees and military personnel.

The county’s vaccination effort has been paused for the day due to weather conditions, but is set to resume Tuesday.

County officials have promised that Arlington has the capacity to do more vaccinations should it receive more supply from the state, which is itself constrained by vaccine supply from the federal government.

Despite the seemingly good news on a lower rate of cases, Silverman cautions that it is unlikely to last given viral mutations.

“Although things clearly look better now compared to 2 weeks ago, our numbers are not at the low levels that we saw over the summer and we’re expecting another surge in March because of the UK variant that may cause more significant disease,” he wrote. “And so, while I am in favor of trying to get schools reopened, it has to be done strategically, following best practice guidelines to insure student, staff, and community safety.”

Another word of caution from the emergency room: Silverman said he’s aware of “several” patients who tested positive around the holidays, and did not require hospitalization at the time, but recently had to come to the ER about a month after their initial diagnosis due to worsening symptoms. Normally, initial COVID-19 symptoms last one to two weeks.

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Two hundred people have died from COVID-19 in Arlington, according to the latest figures from the Virginia Dept. of Health.

One new fatality was reported today. Four have been reported over the past week. In all, 725 people have been hospitalized in Arlington as a result of a COVID-19 infection, according to VDH, out of 11,555 total confirmed cases.

The seven-day trailing average of cases has been rising this week, after hitting a one-month low of just over 67 cases per day on Sunday. The trailing average current stands at 78 daily cases.

Older residents and people of color have been overrepresented among the coronavirus deaths in Arlington. A demographic analysis of VDH data is below.

  • Black: 21% of deaths, 9.6% of population
  • Latino: 18% of deaths, 15.1% of population
  • Asian: 10.5% of deaths, 9.6% of population
  • White: 46.5% of deaths, 64% of population

Three percent of deaths were among those of two or more races, or unknown race. Despite the grim milestone, the 200 reported coronavirus deaths represent less than 0.1% of the county’s population.

No deaths have been reported among Arlington residents under the age of 40. The ages of those who have died are below.

  • 40-49: 5% of deaths
  • 50-59: 5% of deaths
  • 60-69: 13% of deaths
  • 70-79: 26% of deaths
  • 80+: 52% of deaths

An additional 812 vaccine doses were reported as administered today, according to VDH, with 1,602 people now listed as fully vaccinated with two doses.

Arlington County officials have been urging state and federal authorities to speed up the distribution of additional doses, asserting that the county is prepared to administer up to 2,000 vaccine doses per day.

Image via VDH

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