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Covid hospitalizations jump over holidays, briefly putting county’s community level at ‘medium’

All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of Jan. 3, 2023 (via VDH)

Fairfax County ended 2022 with a “medium” level of COVID-19 in the community, the first time it reached that level since August.

Continuing an upward trend that began around Thanksgiving, the county is averaging 291 cases per day for the past week, the highest weekly average since Aug. 13, per Virginia Department of Health data.

However, increased hospitalizations pushed the county from “low” to “medium,” as of Dec. 29, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the county’s case rate of 147.19 cases per 100,000 residents is below the CDC’s 200-case threshold, there were 11 new hospital patients admitted with Covid for every 100,000 residents in the week of Dec. 21-28. In addition, 6.4% of all staffed, inpatient beds are being occupied by people with Covid.

Those numbers changed slightly earlier this week. As of Monday (Jan. 2), 7.6% of beds were being used by Covid patients, and the hospitalization rate dipped to 9.2 patients per 100,000 residents, which would put the county back in “low” territory.

Fairfax County Covid hospitalization rates, as of Jan. 2, 2023 (via CDC)

The CDC is supposed to update its local community level classifications on Thursdays, but the dashboard still said “medium” by press time.

Despite the recent resurgence in the coronavirus, which remains far from the heights seen last winter, the Fairfax County Department of Health says it’s “unlikely” to bring back the face mask requirements that were in place until last February, unless a mandate is recommended by the CDC or the state.

The county’s approach reflects a national shift away from mandates in the public health response to the pandemic.

“To help prevent spread of COVID, FCHD does strongly recommend that our residents stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations,” department spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said by email. “In addition, handwashing, getting tested if symptomatic and/or staying home when ill will also help stem the spread of COVID in the community.”

While the county’s mobile testing and mass vaccine sites were phased out last month, the FCHD still offers both services at its district offices, though anyone in need must call 703-324-7404 to make an appointment. Testing sites can be found through the VDH, and vaccine options are at vaccines.gov.

There have been 2.8 million vaccine doses administered to residents of the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church as well as the county.

According to the FCHD, 86% of residents have gotten at least one dose, including:

  • 93% of people 18 and older
  • 99% of 16-17 year olds
  • 95.6% of 12-15 year olds
  • 64.2% of 5-11 year olds
  • 22.7% of kids aged 6 months to 4 years old

As of yesterday, 942,162 residents — or 79.6% — are fully vaccinated, including 86.7% of adults. Booster uptake remains under 50% for all age groups under 45.

The district has reported a total of 259,627 cases, 5,273 hospitalizations and 1,729 deaths during the pandemic.

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