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Arlington County has reached a “substantial” amount of community transmission, according to the CDC, amid a national “surge” in Covid cases.

As the highly contagious delta variant of the virus spreads and sets new records, Arlington is not being spared. But the county is still well below this past winter’s high water marks in terms of cases and hospitalizations.

As of this morning, the Virginia Dept. of Health reported a seven-day moving average of 25 new cases per day in Arlington, the highest point since mid-April. On Friday alone 37 new cases were reported, the highest one-day total in more than three months.

The county’s test positivity rate, now 2.7%, has also hit a three-month high.

As of Friday, the cumulative number of Covid-related hospitalizations in Arlington during the pandemic reached 873, up four in two weeks. No new deaths were reported during that time period.

Even in the instance of “breakthrough” infections among those who were previously fully vaccinated, experts say COVID-19 vaccines are providing effective protection against serious complications from the virus.

More than 70% of adults in Arlington have received at least one vaccine dose, while nearly 64% are fully vaccinated, according to VDH data.

In an email on Friday, Arlington’s public health division said those who are not yet fully vaccinated are “strongly” encouraged to do so. The county health department is also urging residents to avoid indoor gatherings and to wear a mask in public. So far, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has not instituted a new mask mandate.

Following an increasing trend of COVID-19 cases in the community, Arlington County is experiencing substantial community transmission of COVID-19, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All jurisdictions immediately surrounding Arlington are also experiencing either moderate or substantial community COVID-19 transmission.

To reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the County recommends following updated guidance from CDC, which advises the general public to wear a mask in public indoor settings with people outside of your home bubble, in areas with either substantial or high transmission.

“In addition to masking per CDC guidance, we strongly encourage our residents who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington County Health Director.  “Vaccination is the most important public health action to end the COVID-19 pandemic and keep our community open. Getting fully vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death, even with the Delta variant.”

The Arlington County Public Health Division also reminds residents that using multiple layers of protection is an effective and commonsense way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in our community. Layered actions you can take include:

  • Choosing outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings
  • Getting tested when symptomatic and staying at home
  • Wearing a mask and physically distancing
  • Washing hands often
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine
  • COVID-19 testing and vaccines are offered at no cost at locations throughout the County.

Find a vaccine site near you at vaccines.gov.

Visit arlingtonva.us/covid-19 or call 703-228-7999 for additional information.

President Biden, meanwhile, said this morning that the U.S. is “prepared to deal with the surge in COVID-19 cases like never before.”

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(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Earlier this summer, new coronavirus cases were reaching new lows. Now cases remain on the rise across the county, Commonwealth and the country.

In Arlington today another 18 cases were reported, bringing the seven-day trailing average up to 16 cases per day, the highest point since May 5.

Thanks to vaccinations, serious complications from Covid remain at relatively low levels. Over the past two months, two Covid-related deaths and 20 new hospitalizations have been reported in Arlington.

But the more contagious Delta variant of the virus is in some cases infecting even those who have been fully vaccinated. A new metric published by the Virginia Dept. of Health reports 1,377 known “breakthrough” cases, resulting in 114 hospitalizations and 37 deaths.

“Over 99% of COVID-19 cases in Virginia have occurred in people who were not fully vaccinated,” State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver was quoted as saying in a county press release Tuesday. “I continue to encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated to do so.”

Arlington’s health department has now administered more than 150,000 vaccine doses, the press release notes.

“As of Monday (July 26), the Arlington County Public Health Division has given more than 150,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses!” the county said. “Overall in Arlington, a total of 264,500 doses have been administered and 132,000+ people are fully vaccinated. The vaccines are free, safe and still the best protection against COVID-19.”

As cases rise, talk of mask and vaccine-related requirements have heated up in recent days.

Students at Montgomery County and Fairfax County public schools will be required to wear masks inside schools this fall regardless of vaccination status, the school systems announced this week. Arlington Public Schools has yet to make a formal announcement of its mask policy for the fall; Virginia is strongly recommending that all elementary school students, teachers and staff wear masks.

President Biden is expected to announce tomorrow that all federal employees must be vaccinated or face “repeated testing mandates,” the Washington Post reports. Fairfax County is also mulling a vaccination requirement for its municipal employees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, updated its mask guidance yesterday to recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings where prevalence of the virus is elevated. There is some disagreement among experts as to whether the mask guidance will make a substantial difference in combating the spread of the virus, in part because many are likely to ignore the guidance.

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The rate of new coronavirus cases in Arlington hit a fresh summer high today.

New Covid cases remain low relative to earlier in the pandemic, but rose to a seven-day trailing average of nine cases per day today, after 13 new cases were reported.

That’s the highest point since May 13.

Virginia Dept. of Health data also shows the county’s test positivity rate hitting 2% today, for the first time since May 9.

The more contagious Delta variant of the virus is skyrocketing in prevalence in the United States and is even infecting those who were fully vaccinated in some cases. Vaccines still offer protection against infection, however, and serious illness or death is rare among vaccinated individuals who get infected.

At Tuesday’s Arlington County Board meeting, Arlington Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said that infections, hospitalizations and Covid-related deaths remain relatively low.

From the Sun Gazette:

Despite a recent uptick, “we are still at the lowest level of cases since June 2020,” Dr. Reuben Varghese told County Board members, with weekly reported cases among county residents running at approximately 5 percent of the level recorded at the height of the pandemic. […]

He noted that among the county residents vaccinated who nonetheless ended up with COVID, just three – or 0.07 percent – became so sick they needed hospitalization.

“It happens, but it is extremely rare,” he said.

Varghese also noted that the state health department may be undercounting the number of vaccinated individuals in Arlington.

VDH currently pegs the percentage of the county’s adult population who have received at least one vaccine dose at just under 70%. Varghese said adding in Arlington residents who were vaccinated in D.C. or Maryland could bump that up to around 76%.

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam sits in on a lesson in Mr. Foster’s class at Barcroft Elementary School during a visit Monday morning (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Virginia is “strongly” recommending that all elementary students, staff and teachers wear masks indoors this fall.

The guidance from the state health and education departments, which is not binding, recommends requiring masks until “there has been sufficient time to allow for children [under 12] to be fully vaccinated,” the Washington Post reported.

The recommendation comes amid an increase in cases nationally, and a much smaller uptick here in Arlington, fueled by the more contagious Delta variant of the virus.

The latest guidance from Arlington Public Schools suggests masks will be required for everybody inside schools in the fall, as has been the case this summer. But the APS mandates could change in light of the new state guidance, which also recommends that fully vaccinated middle- and high school students be allowed to go maskless inside.

What do you think of local elementary kids wearing masks this fall inside schools?

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The net count of coronavirus cases in Arlington has barely budged over the past 2 to 3 weeks.

On May 22, the Virginia Dept. of Health reported a cumulative total of 15,289 cases in Arlington over the course of the pandemic. Today, June 9, that number is 15,290, after five cases were removed overnight.

The removal of cases is due to suspected cases that later test negative being subtracted from the total, a county spokeswoman previously told ARLnow. Excluding the removed cases, Arlington County has seen just a couple of new cases per day over the past few weeks.

The current test positivity rate in the county is just 0.6%, according to VDH.

Covid-related hospitalizations, meanwhile, are low but still happening. Two have been reported over the past week, for a pandemic total of 854. One new death was reported on Monday, the first nearly three weeks, bringing Arlington’s total of reported Covid fatalities to 257.

In terms of vaccinations, the average daily vaccination rate in the county has hovered around 1,000 doses over the past week or so. Roughly 55% of eligible Arlington residents — those age 12 and over — are now fully vaccinated. About two-thirds of eligible residents have received at least one dose.

More than 240,000 doses total have been administered in the county, a number that excludes anyone vaccinated directly by a federal government agency, like the Dept. of Defense.

With the vaccination rate high and the case rate low, ARLnow has decided to discontinue our daily, independent recording of local Covid data, which we started in March 2020.

Each day we’ve put the latest Covid stats reported by the state — including, as of January, vaccinations — in an Excel spreadsheet. That has allowed us to create certain charts and perform some analyses not available to someone relying on VDH’s cumulative datasets.

We reported on the latest data on a daily basis during the peak of the pandemic, and have done so on a weekly basis more recently. Given the low infection rate, however, we will be stopping our independent data collection and regular reporting after today. Instead, we’ll report periodically on the latest numbers in the context of other local Covid-related news, utilizing VDH datasets and charts. Should the numbers rise significantly later this year, for whatever reason, we may resume more frequent reporting.

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Arlington hasn’t just seen a drop in new coronavirus cases, it has seen its cumulative number of cases go backwards over the past few days.

On Friday, the Virginia Dept. of Health reported a total of 15,285 cases in Arlington over the course of the pandemic. Today, that same figure was 15,284, for a net negative number of new cases over that time span, according to VDH data.

So what’s going on?

“This is a routine part of data cleanup in cases that were deemed probable, but ended up not being a confirmed case,” explained Arlington County spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “These cases are subtracted in the data.”

A net of only five new cases have been reported in Arlington over the past seven days — the lowest point since March 15, 2020, at the very outset of the pandemic.

The last time a positive total of new daily cases was reported was this past Saturday, May 22. Since then, the daily case totals have been 0, -2, 0 and -3. But that doesn’t tell the whole story: there are, in fact, new cases being reported.

“There have been 10 new cases reported since May 22,” Baxter confirmed this afternoon. That suggests that the actual seven-day rate of new cases is still relatively low but higher than reported: 20.

That is still a fraction of what the case rate in January, when more than 850 cases were reported over the course of just one week. Behind the dramatic drop: a dramatic rise in vaccinations.

As of this past weekend 63% of Arlington residents ages 12+ had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the county, which has a 70% vaccination goal.

Nearly 225,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Arlington as of this morning, according to VDH, while 104,531 people have been fully vaccinated — more than half of Arlington’s population ages 12 and up. Just under 2,000 vaccine doses are still being administered daily, on average.

The local vaccine counts from the state health department exclude those administered by federal agencies like the Dept. of Defense, which means that an even higher percentage of Arlington’s population is vaccinated than is being reported by VDH.

Update at 1:35 p.m. on 5/27/21 — Arlington’s trailing seven-day case total has now gone negative (-2), after another day of past probable cases being removed from the data.

Image (top) via Virginia Dept. of Health

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(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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