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Fairfax County sets new daily record for Covid cases, prepares for testing site

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over the past 180 days as of Jan. 10, 2022 (via Virginia Department of Health)

Fairfax County has a new single-day record for COVID-19 infections.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the county reported 3,463 new cases on Saturday (Jan. 8), surpassing the previous daily record of 3,111 cases set on Dec. 31. Before Dec. 22, the county had only seen more than 1,000 cases in a day once — on Jan. 17, 2021.

Now, with an additional 1,938 cases coming in today (Monday), the county is averaging 2,168 cases a day for the past week. That is the highest weekly average of the pandemic, even after cases dipped during the middle of last week, when a snowstorm closed some testing and vaccination sites.

In total, the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has recorded 141,395 cases, 4,338 hospitalizations, and 1,260 deaths due to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

All Fairfax County COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 10, 2022 (via Virginia Department of Health)

While hospitalizations remain relatively low in Fairfax County, which is currently averaging 4.7 a day, Virginia as a whole reported an all-time, single-day high on Friday (Jan. 7), prompting Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a state of emergency today to increase bed and staffing capacities.

Inova Health Systems, which serves Northern Virginia, admitted 94 patients with Covid last week after averaging fewer than 10 a week between April and Christmas last year, according to Northam, who emphasized that the majority of people being hospitalized with the disease have not been vaccinated.

“Vaccines work, plain and simple,” the governor said. “To protect yourself, to stay out of a hospital, get vaccinated.”

According to FCHD data, 938,926 Fairfax Health District residents have gotten at least one vaccine dose, amounting to 79.3% of the population. That includes 89% of adults, 94% of 16 and 17-year-olds, 89.3% of people aged 12-15, and 44.7% of children aged 5-11.

As of today, 832,236 residents — 70.3% of the population — are fully vaccinated, including 79.7% of adults. According to the VDH, 32.3% of Fairfax County residents have received a booster or third dose, including 40.8% of adults.

Demand for Covid testing has soared in the wake of the omicron variant’s arrival. The district’s seven-day moving average has jumped from 2,481 daily encounters on Nov. 28 to 5,292 encounters as of Jan. 6, when nearly a third of tests — 32.8% — came back positive.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 testing encounters and positivity rate, as of Jan. 10, 2022 (via Virginia Department of Health)

With many testing sites booked days, even weeks in advance, Gov. Ralph Northam announced last week that VDH will open nine community testing centers across the state in coming weeks, including one in Fairfax County.

According to the announcement, the facility will be at or near the mass vaccination site that has been operating out of the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner Center since October, but the county health department said on Friday (Jan. 7) that it couldn’t confirm the exact location yet, since the contracts were still being finalized.

The county did confirm that the testing site will provide drive-thru PCR testing services and require appointments, with the capacity to administer about 500 tests a day, five days a week.

“PCR test results are usually available within a few days and are very effective in detecting an active COVID-19 infection, even if asymptomatic,” FCHD spokesperson Tina Dale said by email.

More details about the facility, including the location, opening date, and how to make an appointment, are expected to be announced early this week.

For now, Fairfax County has a range of testing options at local pharmacies, health care providers, and other community sites. Inova and the county health department also offer testing for people who are symptomatic, though the county hasn’t shared dates for its mobile lab yet.

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