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Fairfax County doubles COVID-19 caseload from Christmas to begin new year

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over the past 180 days as of Jan. 3, 2022 (via Virginia Department of Health)

2022 is off to a sobering start, as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Fairfax County.

The county is now averaging 2,132 cases per day for the past week, according to Virginia Department of Health data. That dwarfs last winter’s surge, which peaked at a seven-day average of 697 cases on Jan. 17.

The weekly average had never entered four digits until this past Christmas, when the county hit 1,008 cases. Now, the county is seeing more than twice as many infections a day, reporting a new single-day record for the pandemic of 3,111 cases on New Year’s Eve (Friday).

With another 1,416 cases coming in today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District — which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church — has recorded a total of 125,708 COVID-19 cases.

There has been a slight uptick in hospitalizations as well, with the county averaging 5.57 a day for the past week after seeing fewer than two per day as recently as Dec. 18. Still, the hospitalization rate remains below last winter, which averaged nearly 17 cases a day at the surge’s height, and its all-time high of 33 a day on May 3, 2020.

Overall, the Fairfax Health District has seen 4,300 residents hospitalized and 1,260 people die due to the novel coronavirus.

All Fairfax County COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 3, 2022 (via Virginia Department of Health)

VDH still lists the delta variant as the dominant strain in Virginia, but the time lag required for genomic sequencing and reporting suggests the omicron variant is more widespread than currently apparent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, as of the week that ended Dec. 25, the newer, highly transmissible variant comprised 58.6% of all cases in the U.S.

Health officials warned last week that the current surge — the Commonwealth’s fifth of the pandemic — might not peak for several more weeks, making it “likely that its true impact on public health and the health care delivery system is yet to be fully felt.”

“The best defense against serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated,” State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said. “If you have not gotten vaccinated or boosted and are eligible, please do so now. Do it for yourself, your family, and your community, including the health care workers we depend on to be there when we truly need emergency care.”

Vaccinations appear to have leveled off in the Fairfax Health District, though facility closures during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays have likely played a role in the decline in administered doses.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the Fairfax Health District COVID-19, as of Jan. 3, 2022 (via Fairfax County Health Department)

The mass vaccination sites at the Fairfax County Government Center, South County Government Center, and Tysons Corner Center were closed today due to snow.

According to the Fairfax County Health Department, 933,257 district residents, or 78.9% of the population, have received at least one vaccine dose. That includes 88.6% of people aged 18 and older, 93.6% of 16 to 17-year-olds, 88.9% of people aged 12-15, and 43.2% of 5 to 11-year-olds.

About 70% of the district’s population is now fully vaccinated, amounting to 828,505 residents. That includes 79.5% of adults. 327,704 residents — about 28% of the population — have gotten a booster shot or third dose.

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