Covid cases decline in Fairfax County, but health department urges caution

An at-home rapid COVID-19 test (via sarah b/Unsplash)

As summer takes hold, COVID-19 transmissions appear to be plateauing in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

After hitting 601 cases on May 25, the peak for this spring, the district’s weekly average dipped to 457.4 cases per day on Thursday (June 2) and is currently sitting at 479.1 cases, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

However, the testing positivity rate continues to increase, reaching 18.7% as of June 2 — the highest mark since Jan. 23 (19.6%). Less than half as many tests are being conducted now compared to this past winter, with encounters declining in the lead-up to and during Memorial Day weekend.

“While the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County has decreased in the past 2 weeks, we urge caution in interpreting this finding,” Dr. Ben Schwartz, the Fairfax County Health Department’s director of epidemiology and population health, said in an emailed statement.

Schwartz noted that many cases are now detected with at-home tests, the results of which aren’t shared with the health department.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of June 6, 2022 (via VDH)

Hospitalizations are also still on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which still classifies Fairfax County’s COVID-19 community level as “medium,” since the case rate was 297.68 per 100,000 residents, as of June 2.

An estimated 76 county residents were admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 last week through Friday (June 3). That amounts to 6.6 new admissions per 100,000 residents, a 16.8% increase from the previous seven days.

Patients with a confirmed Covid diagnosis are occupying 3.9% of the county’s staffed, inpatient hospital beds.

The Fairfax Health District reported 355 new cases today (Monday), bringing its totals for the pandemic up to 205,181 cases, 4,564 hospitalizations, and 1,522 deaths — four of them confirmed within the past week.

All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of June 6, 2022 (via VDH)

Schwartz cautioned that the frequency of infections continues to shift with the arrival of different mutations of the omicron variant that fueled this winter’s surge.

A subvariant by the unwieldy name of BA.2.12.1 became the dominant strain in the U.S. in late May. The speed with which it overtook previous subvariants suggests it’s highly transmissible, but there are no indications yet that it causes more severe disease.

“Remaining up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, staying home when ill and getting tested, and talking with your doctor about precautions for people at higher risk of severe illness all continue to be strongly recommended,” Schwartz said.

The Fairfax Health District has 994,503 residents, or 84%, who have gotten at least one Covid vaccine dose, including:

  • 92.7% of people 18 and older
  • 98.8% of 16-17 year olds
  • 94.7% of 12-15 year olds
  • 60.2% of 5-11 year olds

There are 905,960 fully vaccinated residents, who make up 76.5% of the population. That includes 84.7% of adults.

According to VDH, third or booster shots have been given to 515,281 Fairfax County residents, or 44.8%, including 54.2% of adults and 35.9% of adolescents aged 12-17.

Photo via sarah b/Unsplash