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JUST IN: Fairfax County’s COVID-19 community level climbs to ‘medium’

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 13 weeks, as of May 6, 2022 (via VDH)

Fairfax County’s ongoing Covid surge reached new heights this week.

The county is now seeing a “medium” level of COVID-19 in the community. This is the first time that the county’s classification has changed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopted its current metrics for measuring the disease’s spread in February.

The CDC measures COVID-19 community levels based on the number of cases and new hospital admissions per 100,000 people as well as the percentage of staffed inpatient beds utilized by people diagnosed with Covid.

As of yesterday (Thursday), Fairfax County has recorded 210.1 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. If that number exceeds 200 cases, the CDC automatically classifies a community’s level as medium, regardless of the other metrics.

The county falls in the “low” thresholds for new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 residents (3.4), and the percentage of hospital beds filled by patients with Covid (1.9%).

The Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, is currently averaging 396.9 cases per day over the past week — a 90-case increase just since Monday (May 2), according to Virginia Department of Health data.

“Disease increases are likely related to the emergence of new Omicron sub-variants (BA.2, BA.2.12.1) and fewer people using mitigation measures such as masking or distancing from others,” the Fairfax County Health Department said today (Friday). “COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Fairfax County remain low though the rate of hospitalizations has more than doubled in the past month.”

Schools see increase in COVID-19 outbreaks

According to the FCHD, the rise in cases has extended to schools with 139 classrooms reporting outbreaks this week — a jump of more than 50% from the 74 classrooms with outbreaks last week.

The department notes that those numbers include both public and private schools as well as childcare facilities. The outbreaks, which are clusters of three or more connected COVID-19 cases, have primarily occurred in elementary schools.

After seeing a dip in March, Fairfax County Public Schools students reported 1,687 COVID-19 cases in April, and there have already been 1,277 cases in May, according to the school system’s data dashboard. FCPS had 2,907 cases among students in January, which remains the all-time record.

COVID-19 cases reported to Fairfax County Public Schools in February through May 2022 (via FCPS)

“Our current protocols remain in place until we reach a high transmission level,” an FCPS spokesperson told FFXnow.

As noted in a newsletter earlier this week, FCPS says students’ parents and guardians are still required to fill out a daily screening questionnaire to determine whether they should be in school. Face masks are recommended, though they haven’t been required since the beginning of March.

FCPS recently updated its protocols for students who test positive for COVID-19, allowing students to return to in-person classes after five days of isolation if they are symptom-free and wear a mask.

With Mother’s Day and other spring occasions approaching, the county health department advises residents to keep COVID-19 health risks in mind and hold gatherings outside if possible.

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