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Covid cases in Arlington as of Dec. 15, 2022 – 13 week view (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Don’t look now, but Covid cases are on the rise again in Arlington.

Daily case averages are still well below the levels seen earlier in the year, but the trajectory is upward, Virginia Dept. of Health data shows. As of Wednesday, the seven-day case average in Arlington was 57 cases per day, high highest point since September.

That follows national trends of rising Covid cases.

According to CDC data, Arlington County’s weekly case rate per 100,000 people is 154, while the weekly Covid hospital admission rate is 7.7 per 100,000 people. The threshold between the CDC’s “low” and “medium” Covid levels is 200 cases and 10 admissions.

Just in time for the rise in cases, the federal government today is restarting its free Covid tests by mail program. The tests can be ordered here.

VDH, meanwhile, announced yesterday that bivalent booster shots are now available to all children six months of age and older in Virginia.

From a press release:

Parents of young children in Virginia are now able to seek a free bivalent pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for their children aged six months and older, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today, following the recommendation of the vaccines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on December 9.

The Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine, previously available only to persons aged five years and older, is now available for children aged six months through four years as a third primary series dose. At this time, children aged 6 months through four years who received three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to complete their primary series are not authorized to receive a booster dose of bivalent vaccine. The Moderna bivalent vaccine, previously available for persons aged six years and older, is now available for children aged six months through five years as a booster dose at least two months after completion of a Moderna primary series.

Both bivalent vaccines target the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that first emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant that emerged in the United States in November 2021.

VDH advises parents to discuss this option with their child’s healthcare provider. Vaccination opportunities may be found at Vaccinate.Virginia.gov.

Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chair Dr. Mike Silverman, in his weekly public Facebook post, encouraged parents to consider the bivalent booster for their kids. He also noted that flu and RSV are are still prevalent in the community amid a particularly active fall for respiratory illnesses.

Within VHC, the number of patients we have hospitalized with COVID is similar to last week (and higher than last month). The emergency department remains quite busy. November was among our highest volume months ever, for the most part attributed to Flu and RSV cases. Among our COVID population, we saw another week over week increase in the number of patients testing positive in our “symptomatic” population with a higher percent positive rate than the previous week. That number is 3-4 fold higher than in early November. Among all our testing, we had about twice as many positives as just a few weeks ago.

The CDC reports that “there have been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu so far this season,” making this the worst flu season in a decade. Although the number of patients we’re seeing with the flu has declined a bit over the past month, there’s still a lot of flu in the community and I highly recommend getting your flu shot. And fortunately, the flu vaccine this year appears to be a “good match” for the circulating strains, meaning the vaccine works better than average this year.

The FDA approved the bivalent booster for those 6 months to 5 years old. This booster can serve as the 3rd shot after the primary two shot series is complete. This will go to the CDC for review and should be available soon. Please talk to you pediatrician about vaccination. I continue to see a lot of young children that are not vaccinated.

Covid cases in Arlington as of Dec. 15, 2022 – 26 week view (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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A person receiving a vaccine from Arlington County’s clinic in early 2021 (Image via Arlington County/YouTube)

In another sign that we’ve reached the later stages of the pandemic, Arlington County is permanently closing its public vaccine clinic next month.

The announcement was made this morning.

“Demand has significantly decreased at the County’s clinic, with COVID-19 vaccines now widely available in the community through pharmacies, urgent care centers, and medical providers,” the county said in a press release. “As such, the final day of operations for the clinic at Sequoia Plaza (2100 Washington Blvd.) will be Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.”

The clinic first opened nearly two years ago and saw long lines for the original vaccine after it was made available. In addition to its closing, the county announced that all but one of its Covid testing booths are closing.

“All County Curative COVID-19 testing kiosks will close on Nov. 30, 2022, except for the Arlington Mill Community Center location,” the press release said. “The closure of kiosks aligns with a significant decline in kiosk testing demand across the County (an 80% decline since Nov. 2021) and the widespread availability of at-home and pharmacy-based tests.”

Covid case rates in Arlington have held relatively steady over the past month and currently stand at a seven-day moving average of 30 cases per day, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. That’s about the middle of the range for what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a “low” Covid level.

Meanwhile, some of the public health attention has shifted to rising levels of flu and the childhood illness RSV.

“The emergency department is pretty much as busy as we have ever seen it,” Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chair Mike Silverman wrote Friday in his weekly public Facebook post. “Our volume this week (and actually last week) is 20+% higher than our typical volume. We are definitely seeing this with the flu and RSV numbers. We’re also seeing this in the increased number of pediatric patients coming to the ER.”

The full Arlington County press release about the clinic and testing booth closures is below.

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Covid cases in Arlington as of 9/28/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) Covid cases have held relatively steady in Arlington for most of September, as the weather turns cooler and flu season looms.

Just under 50 cases per day are being reported on average over the past week, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The test positivity rate has been falling and now stands at 11.6%.

The last month with generally lower case totals was March, after which cases started gradually rising before peaking around Memorial Day and starting an even more gradual decline.

In his weekly public Facebook post last week, VHC Health emergency department chief Dr. Mike Silverman said the hospital is also seeing lower levels of Covid.

We saw a noticeable decrease in the number of new COVID diagnoses we made this week in the ER and the percent positive rate dropped. We’ve been seeing a general decline in the COVID cases since late August but among symptomatic patients, this past week was one third lower than the last several weeks and less than half the number we were seeing in mid-August. The percent positive rate for our “symptomatic” patients was about 30% in mid-August and was just below 17% this past week. Among all comers, despite testing more than in mid-August (our ER volume is higher), our percent positive rate has dropped from approximately 13% to 6.4% and we’ve seen about a 40% drop in the number of patients we diagnosed with COVID this week compared to mid-August. We are 30-40% less than we were seeing the last few weeks. We also have a few less people requiring hospitalization this week compared to recent weeks. One week doesn’t make a trend but the numbers are similar to previous declines we’ve seen so I’m optimistic we’re on the downward slide of the curve for now.

Silverman said he’s also optimistic about the positive effects of the new bivalent vaccine booster shot, which are designed to be more effective against the current Omicron strains of the virus. Arlington County has been offering the shots, which are also available in pharmacies and elsewhere, for just over two weeks.

Despite optimism, cooler weather and increased time indoors typically brings a rise in respiratory disease.

October often marks the start of flu season, and this year’s flu season may be especially bad. There are also anecdotal reports of an uptick in cold-like illnesses currently circulating in the area.

Arlington, meanwhile, has seen two consecutive years in which Covid cases spiked in the fall or winter. In 2020, the rise started in late October or early November. In 2021, it started in early December.

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A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Arlington has resumed its Covid vaccination effort after receiving the new bivalent booster shots from the state.

The county announced today that it has started taking appointments for the updated Covid vaccine, which is expected to be more protective against the Omicron variant. Appointments are available for those ages 12 and over at the Arlington Dept. of Human Services office at Sequoia Plaza (2100 Washington Blvd).

For now, walk-ins are not being offered. The older Covid vaccines remains available for children younger than 12.

As before, shots of the new vaccine are being offered for free, and are also available in local pharmacies.

Arlington has seen generally falling Covid infection numbers, but the virus is still circulating, including in schools and childcare centers. As of today, the Virginia Dept. of Health is reporting a seven-day moving average of about 55 daily cases in Arlington.

Covid infections in Arlington as of 9/13/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

More on the vaccine availability, from an Arlington County press release, below.

Appointments are now available for a free COVID-19 bivalent (updated) booster through Arlington County Public Health. Boosters are available starting Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2022, by appointment only. No walk-ins will be allowed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 12 and older gets an updated booster if it has been at least two months since they completed their primary series or booster vaccination.

Make an appointment online with Arlington County Public Health though the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). If you need ADA accommodations or require assistance scheduling your appointment with Arlington County Public Health, call 703-228-7999.

Additional opportunities to get COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available in and around Arlington through pharmacies and other medical provider – visit vaccines.gov to find a location near you.

The new updated boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are targeted specifically at the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant. The bivalent Moderna vaccine is authorized for people ages 18 years and older, and the bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for people ages 12 years and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech monovalent (original) COVID-19 vaccines are now only authorized as booster doses for children ages 5-11 years.

Arlington County Public Health is also now offering the Novavax vaccine as a 2-dose primary series for those ages 12 and older. Novavax is another option for people who may be allergic to or prefer not to get an mRNA vaccine. For a complete list of vaccines offered, visit our website.

Please bring your vaccination card with you so your provider can add your booster dose. Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

More information about COVID-19 vaccines and boosters is available on the CDC’s website.

For those seeking protection against highly transmissible diseases over the cold weather months, it is also flu vaccine season.

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Vaccine dose being given at an Arlington County vaccination clinic (via Arlington County/YouTube)

With updated Covid boosters now approved, the county has paused providing shots to adults as it waits for its supply from the state.

As of this past Friday, Sept. 3, Arlington County Public Health Division is “unable to offer booster dose appointments for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines” per the county’s website.

This is because “the currently available mRNA vaccines are no longer authorized for booster doses for people ages 12 years and older.”

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of updated Covid booster shots that are specifically formulated to better protect against the omicron variant. Also in accordance with the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation to use these “bivalent vaccines,” the county has stopped administering the older vaccines.

However, Arlington has yet to receive the newer, updated vaccines from the state.

“We are waiting on the supply we pre-ordered through the Virginia Department of Health,” Arlington health department spokesperson Sondra Dietz wrote ARLnow via email.

She said residents will not be able to schedule vaccine appointments until that happens.

“We will update appointment scheduling in VAMS when we have received the two vaccine boosters,” Dietz said. “In the meantime, please check vaccines.gov to search for appointments in and around Arlington, which includes pharmacies and other medical providers.”

There’s no “definitive timeline” on when updated boosters will be received by the county from VDH. However, there are other locations in Arlington that are currently offering the updated boosters with more on the way in the coming days.

All 153 Giant Food pharmacies in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and Delaware are now administrating the updated Pfizer vaccine as a single booster dose, a company spokesperson told ARLnow yesterday. That’s available for anyone 12 years or older and two months out from receiving their last booster dose or initial series of vaccines.

“Select” Giant Food pharmacies are also administrating the updated Moderna vaccine for those 18 years and older. Giant is no longer providing the previous mRNA vaccines to those 12 years or older.

Safeway pharmacies in Arlington are planning to have the updated boosters by the end of the week, per a spokesperson.

While adults can no longer receive the previous iteration of the vaccines as boosters, they are still available for children. Earlier this summer, the federal government approved the vaccine for children and recommended that kids as young as 6 months old could get it.

The county is continuing to administer the previous Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to that age range by appointment only at the Arlington Mill and Walter Reed community centers.

Last week, the state health department released a Covid modeling update that showed rates across the state are in a “slow decline.” While there could be surges in the fall and winter, the updated boosters could blunt the impact.

“Models suggest minor case surges in the Fall barring the introduction of a new variant,” reads the VDH’s report from Sept. 2. “An aggressive new variant, in combination with holiday travel and colder weather, could cause another surge in December. But bivalent vaccine boosters could cut this surge short.”

Arlington is currently seeing a seven-day moving average of 44 daily Covid cases, according to the latest VDH data. That’s down from more than 160 daily cases three months ago.

Covid cases in Arlington as of Sept. 8, 2022 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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A vaccine shot (via Arlington County/YouTube)

Have you had sex with multiple partners — or someone whose name you don’t know — over the past two weeks?

If so, you’re now officially eligible for a monkeypox vaccine in Arlington.

Arlington County has widened its previous vaccine eligibility criteria to include people of all genders and orientations who are engaging in potentially risky sexual behavior. That includes those who “have had anonymous or multiple (more than one) sexual partners in the last two weeks.”

As before, sex workers or staff of “establishments where sexual activity occurs” are included regardless of gender.

Arlington’s health department, meanwhile, has launched a new online request system for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine.

Arlington County has recorded a total of 54 monkeypoxes since the outbreak began, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. That’s up from 39 cases on Aug. 15.

About 4,700 people in Northern Virginia have received the monkeypox vaccine so far, according to VDH.

More from an Arlington County press release, sent Thursday afternoon, below.

The Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) has expanded eligibility for the monkeypox virus vaccine and launched a new appointment request process.

The expanded vaccine eligibility aligns with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) criteria and now includes Virginia residents of all ages of any sexual orientation or gender who meet one of the following:

  • Have had anonymous or multiple (more than one) sexual partners in the last two weeks; OR
  • Are a sex worker; OR
  • Are a staff member at an establishment where sexual activity occurs (bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs, etc.)

The criteria for being vaccinated may be updated in the future.

Close contacts of known cases continue to be eligible and prioritized for the monkeypox vaccine.

ACPHD also launched a more streamlined process to request an appointment for a first dose of the monkeypox vaccine. People who meet the eligibility criteria can request an appointment by visiting acphdmpv.timetap.com. ACPHD will review all requests to verify eligibility before confirming the appointment.

Starting this week, ACPHD also began administering the monkeypox vaccine using the intradermal (in between the layers of the skin) method and dose in accordance with federal and VDH guidelines. People ages 18 years or older who received their first JYNNEOS dose by the subcutaneous (under the skin) method will receive their second dose by the intradermal method to complete their vaccination series.

Monkeypox is a contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus. In most cases it resolves without treatment. It is spread by close contact with an infected person. Close contact includes touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or clothing or linens that have been in contact with an infected person. Spread can also occur during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

While anyone can catch monkeypox if they have close contact with someone with the virus regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, many of those affected in the current global outbreak are gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. People with monkeypox in the current outbreak generally report having close, sustained contact with other people who have monkeypox.

Currently, the highest risk activity is having sex with multiple or anonymous partners. Avoiding these activities greatly reduces one’s risk of catching or spreading monkeypox. Monkeypox does not spread from person to person from walking past someone who is infected or through casual conversation with someone who is infected.

If someone has a new or unexpected rash or sores, they should work with their health care provider to determine the cause. Health care providers in Arlington can visit ACPHD’s Monkeypox for Healthcare Providers website for more information and how to contact us should they have questions.

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Colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles (photo via NIAID)

Arlington is now setting up appointment-only clinics to vaccinate against monkeypox as cases continue to rise across the region.

The Virginia Department of Health has expanded access to the monkeypox vaccine to “those groups at increased risk for exposure,” per Arlington health department spokesperson Sondra Dietz, allowing the county to run the clinics.

The Arlington County Public Health Division is now running clinics 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday, by appointment only, Dietz told ARLnow. As of this morning, 511 total doses of monkeypox vaccine have been administered by the county health department, another spokesperson said.

The county is asking anyone is who interested and is eligible to receive the vaccine to fill out the vaccine interest form. The form is open to all Virginia residents and not just Arlingtonians; so far, there is no word on how many people have filled out the form.

Just over two weeks ago, ARLnow reported that the county was not yet planning any clinics due to VDH’s “limited” supply of monkeypox vaccine JYNNEOS. It appears that since that time VDH has started to provide more vaccine supply to individual localities. This has allowed Arlington to proceed with vaccinating those in high-risk groups, not solely those “contacts of known cases.”

“As ACPHD receives new vaccine shipments, we will issue new appointment invitations,” writes Dietz.

To be eligible to get the vaccine in Virginia, an individual must be a Virginia resident and 18 years or older. Per the county and VDH, the criteria to receive the vaccine also include:

Within the last 14 days are:

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners; OR
  • Transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men; OR
  • Sex workers (of any sex); OR
  • Staff (of any sex) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs); OR
  • Persons (of any gender or sexual orientation) who attend sex-on-premises venues (e.g., bathhouses, sex clubs)

NOTE: If you had monkeypox, then you likely have some protection against another infection and are currently not eligible to be vaccinated.

The county also noted that eligibility “may change as the outbreak evolves and based on vaccine supply. ”

This comes as the federal government declared monkeypox a “public health emergency” late last week and cases continue to rise across the region.

As of today, VDH is reporting that there are 32 known and confirmed cases of monkeypox in Arlington. That encompasses just under a quarter of all the cases in Virginia. A majority of people who have monkeypox are between 20 and 39 years old and are white or Black, per VDH data.

Of the 145 people with monkeypox in Virginia, all but one are reported to be male.

Number of monkeypox cases in Arlington and Virginia as of Aug. 8 (image via VDH)

Monkeypox is spread primarily through close or intimate skin-to-skin contact. Anyone can get and spread the illness, though there are higher risk groups.

Symptoms usually start appearing a week or two after exposure and can include blister-like rash, fever, body aches, and exhaustion. The symptoms can last 5 to 21 days.

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Colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles cultivated and purified from cell culture (photo via NIAID)

Though monkeypox cases continue to rise in the region, the county has yet to open vaccine clinics for the disease.

Supply of the monkeypox vaccine JYNNEOS remains “limited,” county spokesperson Ryan Hudson tells ARLnow, and Arlington is coordinating with the Virginia Department of Health to obtain and administer doses.

However, at this moment, there are no planned vaccine appointments or clinics to administer those doses in Arlington to those who are at higher risk and might have been exposed in the last 14 days.

“VDH is still working to expand vaccine access for Virginians who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox and meet CDC criteria,” Hudson wrote ARLnow in an email. “Information about who will be eligible and how they get vaccinated will be provided when it becomes available both on the VDH site and County site.”

This is in contrast to D.C., which made limited, pre-registered monkeypox vaccine appointments available late last month.

While monkeypox cases are rising in Virginia, they remain relatively low compared to the District which has the highest rate of monkeypox cases per capita in the country.

As of this morning (Wednesday), the Virginia Department of Health is reporting that there are 56 cases of monkeypox in the Commonwealth. Three-quarters of those cases, 42, are in the Northern Region, which includes Arlington.

Number of monkeypox cases in Virginia as of July 20, according to VDH (image via VDH)

This is a relatively rapid rise from only a few weeks ago when, in late June, VDH announced there were only 8 cases in the entire Commonwealth. The first case in Northern Virginia was detected back in late May.

County Manager Mark Schwartz spoke briefly about monkeypox at the County Board meeting yesterday afternoon.

“Our Public Health Division is coordinating with the Virginia Department of Health and local health care providers to test for potential cases and to provide guidance on isolation and treatment,” Schwartz said. “We are reaching out also to and monitoring all contacts of potential cases.”

He also noted that the vaccine supply is “pretty limited” and “only being offered to residents who are at high risk of getting monkeypox and have likely been exposed in the last 14 days.”

Monkeypox can spread through direct contact with infectious rashes, scabs, body fluids, or through “respiratory secretions,” according to the CDC. This includes having “prolonged, face-to-face contact” or “intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex” with someone who is infected.

The virus can spread to and make anyone sick, though the highest risk groups at the moment are men who have had sex with men and with multiple partners over the last several weeks, sex workers, transgender women and nonbinary persons who have sex with men, and people who work in places where sex occurs like saunas and bathhouses.

The CDC and VDH define “higher risk” as those who are in these groups and might have been exposed over the last 14 days.

Health agencies have struggled with messaging, in that the virus is impacting the male gay community more at this moment but agencies do not want to further stigmatize an already marginalized group.

Monkeypox causes rashing and potentially other symptoms over a course of several weeks. The West African type that’s making its way around the globe is “rarely fatal,” says the CDC website, though “symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.”

If one is already infected with monkeypox, health officials note, the vaccine is not an effective treatment.

“If someone suspects they have a monkeypox infection, they should contact a healthcare provider,” writes Hudson.

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A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Arlington County has already vaccinated several hundred children ages 6 months to 5 years, in the first week the jab was offered for that age group.

That’s according to a county spokesman, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.

“Arlington County Public Health began COVID-19 vaccinations for children as young as 6 months last Wednesday, June 22,” said Ryan Hudson. “CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) became fully functional later in the week, enabling us to administer a total of 427 first doses so far.”

More on the recently-authorized vaccine offering, from our article last week:

The vaccine shots for young children are currently only being offered by appointment at the county health department’s Sequoia Plaza facility at 2100 Washington Blvd. Vaccine appointments can be booked online, but require registration, the county noted this morning on social media in response to a resident’s question.

The jabs for children 6 months to 5 years old are being offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The county is offering both the Pfizer three-dose series and the Moderna two-dose series, County Manager Mark Schwartz said at last night’s County Board meeting.

Schwartz also noted that those who are not online or who need assistance can call 703-228-7999.

“We’re excited to see this milestone,” Board Chair Katie Cristol, herself a mother of a toddler… “Some of us very excited to see this milestone.”

Covid cases in Arlington, meanwhile, have been fluctuating around the same general level over the past 10 days, as the Independence Day holiday approaches.

As of Wednesday morning, the county was seeing a seven-day rolling average of 126 daily cases, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Covid cases in Arlington as of 6/29/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

The test positivity rate has climbed sharply over the past week, amid significantly lower testing volumes, and currently stands at 17.8%. That’s up from 13.7% about a week ago.

On the plus side, Covid-related hospital admissions in Arlington have fallen slightly during that time period, sliding from 7.2 per 100,000 in population to 6.8 per 100,000 this week, according to CDC data.

Covid test positivity rate in Arlington as of 6/29/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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The COVID-19 vaccine (via Arlington County/YouTube)

Arlington County is starting to vaccinate children ages 6 months to 5 years today, following federal authorization last week.

The new vaccination effort comes as cases have fallen 40% since peaking in late May.

The vaccine shots for young children are currently only being offered by appointment at the county health department’s Sequoia Plaza facility at 2100 Washington Blvd. Vaccine appointments can be booked online, but require registration, the county noted this morning on social media in response to a resident’s question.

The jabs for children 6 months to 5 years old are being offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The county is offering both the Pfizer three-dose series and the Moderna two-dose series, County Manager Mark Schwartz said at last night’s County Board meeting.

Schwartz also noted that those who are not online or who need assistance can call 703-228-7999.

“We’re excited to see this milestone,” Board Chair Katie Cristol, herself a mother of a toddler, said of the new vaccine offerings. “Some of us very excited to see this milestone.”

Vaccines are still being offered for older children and adults at the Arlington Mill and Walter Reed community centers, by appointment or walk in. Schwartz said that 89% of all Arlington residents 5 years of age or older have received at least one dose and about 80% are fully vaccinated.

The county, meanwhile, is still seeing falling Covid case rates.

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

As of this morning the seven-day moving average in Arlington was 120 daily cases, down 40% from a seasonal peak of 200 on May 25, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

The county’s test positivity rate has also fallen, but more modestly, and currently stands at a relatively elevated 14.6%. That’s down from 16% at the beginning of June.

Arlington is also seeing improvement in hospitalization rates, officials say.

“We’re seeing a drop in hospitalizations,” Schwartz told the Board last night. The most recent CDC data puts the local hospitalization rate at 7.2 weekly admissions per 100,000 residents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And, so far, so good,” she added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo via Northern Virginia Regional Commission

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