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Fairfax County now seeing ‘low’ level of COVID-19 in community, CDC says

Fairfax County’s COVID-19 community level is now low, as of Aug. 11, 2022 (via CDC)

Fairfax County’s COVID-19 community level has dropped from “medium” to “low,” as anticipated based on a steady decline in case numbers over the past month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed the county’s community level with its weekly update on Thursday (Aug. 11), as its case rate of 187.71 cases per 100,000 residents dipped below the 200 mark for the first time since early May.

However, with an estimated 94 new COVID-19 patients admitted last week, the county is seeing 8.4 new admissions per 100,000 residents, and 5.2% of staffed, inpatient beds are being used by people with the disease. While those numbers have stayed in “low” range since the CDC revised its metrics, hospitalizations have been steadily rising since April.

“The Fairfax County Health District is now listed as ‘low’ community level — which is good news — and we are grateful to our community for continuing to take precautions to get us to this level,” the Fairfax County Health Department said by email. “However, as viruses mutate and change, it would not be unusual for the community level to fluctuate.”

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases for the past 26 weeks, as of Aug. 15, 2022 (via VDH)

With 195 new cases reported today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District is averaging 288.1 cases per day for the past week, continuing a decline that extends back to July 14, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

The district’s testing positivity rate has also taken a downward turn in the past week, dipping from a summer high of 22.8% on Aug. 4 to 19.6%, as of Aug. 11.

The district, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has now totaled 232,235 Covid cases, 4,857 hospitalizations, and 1,592 deaths during the pandemic. Fourteen of those deaths were recorded in the past week — an average of two per day.

All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of Aug. 15, 2022 (via VDH)

The shift in Fairfax County’s community level comes as the state and county health departments reassess their testing, isolation and quarantine guidelines in the wake of the CDC changing its guidance on Thursday.

Under the new guidance, federal health officials no longer recommend quarantining for those exposed to someone with Covid, instead advising that they wear a “high-quality” mask and get tested after five days.

While still highlighting the importance of vaccinations, the guidance essentially ends any difference in rules based on vaccination status. It deemphasizes social distancing, ends asymptomatic testing in most community settings, and shortens the recommended isolation period for people with COVID-19 to just five days, if they have no symptoms or their symptoms are improving, with no need for a negative test first.

The county health department says it has been collaborating with VDH to review the guidance and its attempts to limit COVID-19’s spread without disrupting daily life, especially with the new school year set to begin next Monday (Aug. 22).

“With these changes, there are still many actions that we can all take to ensure residents remain safe and healthy,” FCHD wrote. “Continued attention to careful handwashing, keeping up to date on vaccinations, and testing for Covid (and following VDH’s masking guidance) when exposed or with symptoms continue to be recommended by the Fairfax County health department.”

Fairfax County Public Schools hasn’t shared what its COVID-19 policies will be for the coming school year, which will be the first where students of all ages are eligible to get vaccinated. Students, staff, and visitors have reported 1,928 cases to the school system this summer, according to its dashboard.

According to FCHD data, 1,007,395 Fairfax Health District residents, or 85.1%, have gotten at least one Covid vaccine dose, including:

  • 92.9% of people 18 and older
  • 99.2% of 16 and 17 year olds
  • 95.5% of 12-15 year olds
  • 62.2% of 5-11 year olds
  • 12.97% of kids under 5

About 77.4% of all residents — 915,523 people — are fully vaccinated, including 85.3% of adults.

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