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

Most booster shots against COVID-19 were put on hold over Labor Day weekend, as Fairfax County prepares for newly authorized vaccines designed to target omicron variants of the coronavirus.

Appointments for the updated boosters are expected to be available through the county’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) by tomorrow (Wednesday), the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed to FFXnow.

Known as bivalent vaccines, the new shots from Pfizer and Moderna contain the original strain of COVID-19 as well as a component that can be found in the two most dominant omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which authorized the vaccines on Aug. 31.

As a result, the updated boosters will “provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant,” the FDA said.

However, as part of the new authorization, the emergency use authorizations for the existing Pfizer and Moderna boosters were suspended on Friday (Sept. 2). Both vaccines can still be used for the primary two-dose regimen, and the Pfizer vaccine can be used as a booster for kids aged 5 through 11.

For people 12 and older, though, the county health department ceased administering booster doses at its offices and clinic sites on Friday.

“We had a handful of booster appointments set for the past weekend and our Call Center team contacted these individuals to let them know that they could re-schedule appointments when the bivalent boosters arrived,” FCHD spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said.

The health department has ordered 12,900 Pfizer bivalent vaccines and 8,100 Moderna shots and “plans to begin vaccinating this week,” according to Caldwell.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been authorized for people aged 12 and older, and Moderna’s is for adults 18 and up. Eligibility for the doses begins at least two months after getting the primary vaccinations or the most recent booster.

Appointments for the updated boosters won’t be required, but they are recommended, given the limited initial supply. Shots will eventually become available at private medical offices, pharmacies and other locations in the community.

“We thank everyone for their patience,” Caldwell said. Read More

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Monkeypox cases reported in the U.S. since May (via CDC)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) More monkeypox cases have been reported in the Fairfax Health District than anywhere else in Virginia, as officials grapple with a national outbreak of the disease.

The district, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has now seen 58 cases, as of Friday (Aug. 19), according to Virginia Department of Health data. That’s more than any region in the state other than Northern Virginia, which has 163 confirmed or probable cases overall.

All but two of the state’s monkeypox patients so far have been men. The median age is 32, and Black individuals account for the most cases at 92, or 37%, though cases have been recorded for every race and ethnicity.

While not on the level of COVID-19, the continued spread of the smallpox-like disease since Virginia reported its first case of the outbreak in late May has prompted some changes in how state and local health officials have responded.

Most recently, the Fairfax County Health Department introduced an online vaccine interest form on Wednesday (Aug. 17) that residents can fill out to determine their eligibility and potentially get in line for a vaccine appointment.

As of Friday, more than 300 people have submitted the survey, FCHD told FFXnow. Since the outbreak began, the department has administered 1,485 vaccinations, with partner organizations delivering another 171 doses.

“So far, the online screening form has been well received by people and has helped streamline the process,” FCHD spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said by email.

People can also see if they’re eligible for vaccination by contacting the department’s call center at 703-267-3511 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

According to Caldwell, the county has increased the availability of appointments by adding more clinic days at the Fairfax County and South County government centers, including a clinic on Saturdays at the former site.

While those remain the only sites for vaccinations, appointments can be made in person at the county’s health district offices during regular business hours.

With supplies still limited, the vaccine is only recommended right now for:

  • People with a known exposure to someone with monkeypox (VDH updated its guidance to include this category today)
  • People 18 and older who have sex with men and have had more than one or anonymous sexual partners within the past 14 days
  • Sex workers
  • Staff or patrons of establishments where sexual activity occurs, such as bathhouses and sex clubs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the vaccine be given within four days of when a person is exposed to the disease to prevent them from contracting it.

FCHD says it is preparing to administer smaller doses of the approved JYNNEOS vaccine, “which will stretch vaccine supply several-fold while maintaining a good immune response and vaccine safety,” as authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 9.

Nationwide, there have been 14,115 monkeypox cases in the ongoing outbreak, with more than 1,000 each reported in New York, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Graph via CDC

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Morning Notes

A mural surrounds the Booz Allen Hamilton headquarters in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Offers New Covid Vaccine — “Starting this week, adults 18 years of age and older who have never received a COVID-19 vaccine and are interested in getting one, can now make an appointment for the recently authorized Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine, Adjuvanted. Due to limited availability, Novavax will only be offered by appointment only.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Teen Takes Stand in Springfield Murder Trial — “A teenager on trial in the killings of two Fairfax County high school students took the stand Tuesday and said he was defending a friend when he opened fire inside a Springfield, Virginia, home last year…Ersheen Elaiaiser, 17, was shot twice in the chest and 16-year-old Calvin Van Pelt was shot once in the back at a home in the 8000 block of Winding Way Court, prosecutors said. Both teens died.” [NBC4]

Detective Testifies in Tysons Shooting Case — “A detective told the Fairfax County court that Noah Settles, 22, of Southeast D.C., fired three times inside the crowded mall on June 18, over Father’s Day weekend. The shooting caused scared shoppers to run for exits and hide inside the mall. The mall was temporarily closed by authorities.” [NBC4]

Chicken Restaurant Coming to Annandale — “O’my ChiQ & Bar is expected to open in late September at 7023 Columbia Pike in Annandale. A patio is under construction. The restaurant will specialize in rotisserie, grilled, and barbecue chicken and barbecue ribs, says the future manager, who now works at Omy Hot Pot on Annandale Road.” [Annandale Today]

Firefighter Rescues Stuck Kitten — “Kitten stuck in a storm drain? No problem for the crew of Engine 409, Mount Vernon, B-Shift! Probationary Firefighter James Gupton made the grab to get kitty to safety! @FairfaxCountyPD Animal Protection took the kitten to @fairfaxanimals for eventual adoption.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Fairfax Speed Cameras Will Be Back Monday — “Speed enforcement cameras have been installed in SCHOOL ZONES on Old Lee Highway, Route 236/Main Street, and Jermantown Road, near the city’s four schools and two Fairfax County schools (Woodson High School and Frost Middle School).” [City of Fairfax Police Department/Facebook]

Community Center and Day Care Workers Needed — “The Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood & Community Services is hosting an Open Hire Event on Wednesday, August 31 to fill multiple Activity Facilitator and SACC Day Care Teacher positions located at various community centers and SACC program sites…The event takes place August 31 from 5-7 p.m. at the Pennino Building.” [NCS]

Family-Owned Fairfax Restaurant Gets Notice — The winners of WTOP’s Top 10 contest are pretty Arlington and Maryland-centric, but Captain Pell’s Fairfax Crabhouse on Fairfax Blvd managed a runner-up mention in the “Best Seafood” category. Other local restaurants are featured further down the lists, which were determined by the news outlet’s readers and listeners. [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 65. Sunrise at 6:26 am and sunset at 8:02 pm. [Weather.gov]

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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. Read More

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Morning Notes

A frog statue looks up at Giant in University Mall (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Army Nurse Thanks Fairfax County Firefighters — “Sunday, August 7, was a powerful and inspiring day at Station 11, Penn Daw, C-Shift. U.S. Army Captain Paul Petrie, an OR Nurse at Fort Belvoir, stopped by to thank the shift for their role in saving his life in May. Injuries he sustained are fatal a vast majority of the time. Watch to learn more!” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Long-Term Fix for AT&T Service Issues in Reston Coming — A permanent proposal to restore full cell service in the Lake Anne area isn’t expected to come until later this fall, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn. Alcorn says AT&T is looking at installing equipment on the new Fellowship House roof, but that will require approvals from Fairfax County and the Reston Association Design Review Board. [Patch]

Fairfax County Parkway Targeted for Traffic Enforcement — “Officers from our Motor Squad are focusing on traffic enforcement on the Fairfax County Parkway this month. On the first day of this enforcement campaign, an officer stopped a car going 108 MPH on the County Parkway at Barta Road, a 50 MPH zone!” [FCPD/Instagram]

Vienna Trail Closed for Repairs — “The Wildwood Park trail that runs between Follin Lane SE and Niblick Drive SE, along with the Mashie Drive Park entrance, will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 9, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for repairs. Please use caution when in the area and plan for detours.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Police Seek Help with Centreville Cold Case — “One of the DNA-analysis companies that Fairfax County Police in Virginia have been working with is Texas-based Othram, which is now crowdfunding help to identify a woman who was found dead…nearly 30 years ago. Even today, there isn’t a lot that police know about the woman, whose remains were found in 1993 near a cedar tree around what’s now the corner of Sharpsburg Drive and Calvary Place in Centreville.” [WTOP]

Connector Buses Not Affected by Metro Shutdown — The closure of several Blue and Yellow Line stations next month will have no impact on Fairfax Connector routes, but instead of taking a train, passengers will transfer to free shuttle buses. Drop-off and pick-up locations at the Huntington, Van Dorn Street, Franconia, and Crystal City stations may also be slightly different. [Fairfax County Government]

Reminder to Get Kids Immunized for School — “Parents, you’ve probably reminded your kids about summer reading and started purchasing school supplies. Have you booked your immunization appointment yet? Don’t wait until the last minute, make sure your children are up to date with their school required immunizations.” [Fairfax County Health Department/Facebook]

Maryland Toll Lanes Project on Hold — “A key federal agency has delayed Maryland’s plan to build toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-270, the latest setback for the star-crossed project. The move was immediately criticized by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who said the delay will imperil the state’s efforts to ease one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks.” [Maryland Matters]

It’s Tuesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 94 and low of 78. Sunrise at 6:18 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A kid gets their first COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Fairfax County Government Center’s clinic (courtesy Fairfax County Health Department)

In the Fairfax Health District, COVID-19 cases are on the decline, and vaccinations have continued to rise.

At least one Covid vaccine dose has been administered to 85% of all residents in the district, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, according to the Fairfax County Health Department’s data dashboard.

That amounts to 1,005,887 residents, including:

  • 92.8% of people aged 18 and older
  • 99% of 16-17 year olds
  • 95.4% of 12-15 year olds
  • 61.8% of 5-11 year olds
  • 12% of kids aged 4 months through 4 years

The district has 914,421 fully vaccinated residents, or 77.3%, including 85.2% of adults. Booster rates have ticked up slightly since last week, with over 10% of kids aged 5 to 11 years old having now gotten an additional dose.

Though the test positivity rate has soared to 23.1%, meaning that nearly one out of every four PCR tests is coming back positive, the overall number of cases reported in the Fairfax Health District has dropped from an average of over 455 cases per day on July 14 to 317 cases today (Monday).

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of Aug. 8, 2022 (via VDH)
All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of Aug. 8, 2022 (via VDH)

That remains roughly twice as high as the case levels seen last August, when a surge tied to the then-dominant delta variant prompted local health officials to revive guidance that everyone wear face masks indoors.

Still, if the current downward trend in cases holds, Fairfax County could potentially soon see its COVID-19 community level drop from “medium,” where it has been since early May.

As of this past Thursday (Aug. 4), the county is seeing 206.36 cases per 100,000 residents. If that drops below 200 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would rank its community level as “low” based on its rates of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents (6.6) and staffed inpatient beds used by Covid patients (4.9%).

There were an estimated 79 new hospital admissions of county residents with COVID-19 through last Wednesday (Aug. 3), a 12.7% decline from the previous seven days, per the CDC.

The Fairfax Health District has recorded 230,218 Covid cases, 4,824 hospitalizations, and 1,578 deaths during the pandemic.

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Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of Aug. 1, 2022 (via VDH)

After staying level in the early summer, COVID-19 cases have been on a more decisive downward trend since mid-July in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

The 231 new cases reported today (Monday) are the fewest to come in on a single day since just 169 cases were added on May 2, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

More tellingly, the district’s seven-day average has declined from 455.3 cases on July 14 to 354.4 cases today. The last time the weekly average was in the mid-300s was early May, when cases were surging with the arrival of new omicron subvariants.

Even with overall cases dropping, though, hospitalizations have been on an upward trajectory since the spring.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which continues to classify Fairfax County’s community level as “medium,” an estimated 90 county residents were admitted to a hospital with confirmed COVID-19 from July 20-27 — a 26.6% increase from the previous seven days.

Those individuals are occupying 5.2% of staffed, inpatient hospital beds and 3.6% of intensive care unit beds.

In addition, roughly one out of every five PCR tests are still coming back positive for Covid, with the Fairfax Health District reported a 20.3% positivity rate, as of Thursday (July 28). After plummeting in June, testing encounters in the district plateaued in July, hovering between 1,400 and 1,650 tests on average.

All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of Aug. 1, 2022 (via VDH)

Overall, the district has recorded 227,999 Covid cases, 4,792 hospitalizations, and 1,565 deaths during the pandemic.

Vaccinations have incrementally but steadily climbed since late March, according to the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard, which shows that 1,004,414 district residents — or 84.9% — have now received at least one dose.

That includes:

  • 92.8% of people 18 and older
  • 99.1% of 16-17 year olds
  • 95.3% of 12-15 year olds
  • 61.6% of 5-11 year olds
  • 11% of kids aged 6 months to 4 years

The district has 913,243 residents who are now fully vaccinated, which is 77.2% of the population, including 85.2% of adults.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 vaccine booster rates, as of Aug. 1, 2022 (via Fairfax County Health Department)

The highest percentage of booster shots has been among residents aged 65 to 84, more than 70% of whom have gotten the additional doses. All age groups under 55 years old are still below 50%.

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Morning Notes

A flock of birds flies over Route 123 in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Real Estate Taxes Due Today — For Fairfax County property owners, it’s the final day to send in the first installment of your annual real estate taxes, which saw significant increases this year even with a 3-cent reduction in the county’s rate. Payments can be made to the Department of Tax Administration by phone, mail, drop box, mobile app and online. [DTA]

Springfield Man Convicted in 2020 Murder — A jury convicted Carlington Fitz Auther Campbell yesterday (Wednesday) for shooting and killing Anthony Sullivan outside a West Springfield apartment in November 2020, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced. Campbell was found guilty of second-degree murder and a weapons charge, which carry possible prison sentences of five to 40 years and three years, respectively. [WUSA9]

Decision on Mosaic District Skating Rink Postponed — “Because of some public pushback, unresolved questions and a legal-advertising snafu, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) on July 13 deferred until September its decision on whether to allow temporary ice- and roller-skating rinks in Merrifield’s Mosaic District.” [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax City Veterinarian Helps Ukraine Animal Shelters — “Dr. Courtney Katsur chokes up when she describes what she saw while volunteering for two weeks in Ukraine. The veterinarian with Town & Country Animal Hospital in Fairfax tried for months to find a way to get to the war zone to help animals she was seeing in the news.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Clinics Available for Required Student Vaccinations — “Before students return to school in late August, families can check to ensure their students are up to date on immunizations required at Fairfax County Public Schools. The Fairfax County Health Department is offering appointments at upcoming immunization clinics.” [Patch]

Inova to Rebrand Urgent Care Centers With Partnership — Inova Health System will soon let patients make appointments, check wait times and more through the on-demand health care platform GoHealth Urgent Care. Announced yesterday (Wednesday), the joint venture will convert seven existing Inova Urgent Care locations in Northern Virginia into Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care centers later this year, with additional locations planned. [Inova]

Penn Daw Firefighters Help Mow Lawn — “Recently, Station 11, Penn Daw, B-Shift responded to a routine EMS incident for an elderly gentleman experiencing distress while mowing his lawn on one of the hottest days of the year. The #FCFRD crew assisted the gentlemen, and then completed mowing his lawn prior to leaving.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Park Authority Fall Registration Begins Next Week — “Fairfax County Park Authority registration for fall classes and programs opens Aug. 2, 2022. Fall classes will be in full swing with programs at Rec Centers, nature centers, historic sites, lakefront parks, golf courses and schools. Virtual classes are available for those who prefer or cannot attend in person.” [FCPA]

McLean Lidl Hosts Kids’ Drawing Contest — “Lidl is holding a drawing competition for children at its new McLean store as part of a benefit for the SHARE of McLean food bank. Starting Wednesday, children can participate in the drawing competition, with a chance to win a $100 Lidl gift card…Once the competition closes on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Lidl will narrow down the entries and ask McLean community members to vote for their favorite piece of art.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A vaccinator at the Fairfax County Government Center’s COVID-19 vaccine site (via FCHD/YouTube)

A fourth vaccine has entered the fight against COVID-19.

The Gaithersburg-based company Novavax received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month for a two-dose vaccination designated for unvaccinated people 18 and older.

The Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, will get a portion of the 20,800 doses allocated to Virginia, the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed to FFXnow.

Supplies are expected to arrive in mid-August, the Virginia Department of Health said on Friday (July 22) after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the new vaccine its recommendation.

Novavax’s vaccine functions differently than the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines that have emerged as the favored options for inoculation against Covid over the past year.

“The Novavax vaccine contains a very small amount of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which elicits an immune response, in combination with an adjuvant, which boosts the immune system response to the vaccine,” VDH said. “…The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine offers an option to individuals who may have an allergic reaction to mRNA vaccines or who have a personal preference for receiving a vaccine other than one based on the mRNA technology.”

According to the FDA, trial data showed that the vaccine is 90.4% effective at preventing illness from the coronavirus.

Possible side effects included pain or tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, joint pain, nausea or vomiting, and fever. There was also evidence for increased risks of the same heart inflammation issues that have been reported with the mRNA vaccines.

The vaccine’s two doses will be delivered three weeks apart. It will only be available to people who haven’t gotten any shots yet, since it hasn’t been authorized for third or booster doses.

“When it becomes available, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to find an appointment for the Novavax vaccine,” the county health department said. “The vaccine will be free and available to everyone aged 18 years or older who is eligible.” Read More

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An FCPS employee gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at an Inova clinic in January 2021 (photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools)

More than 1 million residents of the Fairfax Health District have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The milestone in the roughly 19-month-long vaccination campaign came within the past week, according to the Fairfax County Health Department, which puts the current count at 1,001,144 people, or 84.6% of the population. The health district encompasses Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

The breakdown by age group is as follows:

  • 92.7% of people 18 and older
  • 98.9% of 16-17 year olds
  • 95.1% of 12-15 year olds
  • 61.1% of 5-11 year olds

The dashboard doesn’t list a percentage for kids under 5, who became eligible for the shots last month.

As of today (Monday), 910,685 district residents are fully vaccinated — 76.9% of the population, including 85.1% of adults.

The Virginia Department of Health reports slightly higher vaccination numbers, showing that 1,004,820 residents in Fairfax County alone have gotten at least one dose.

“We get our vaccination coverage data from the VA Immunization Information System (VIIS),” a county health department spokesperson told FFXnow by email. “VDH gets additional data on Fairfax County residents who receive their vaccination in other states and therefore don’t have the data included in VIIS.”

For the sake of consistency, FFXnow has generally reported vaccination data from the county, which provides information for the whole district and for more specific age groups.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases for the past 26 weeks, as of July 18, 2022 (via VDH)
All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of July 18, 2022 (via VDH)

COVID-19 cases in the district continue to stay fairly steady, with no clear indication of a coming surge or decline.

With 236 new cases reported today, the district is averaging 423.3 cases per day for the past week, per VDH data. The seven-day average has hovered between 370 and 455 cases since June 10.

The district’s testing positivity rate is still elevated at 21% — up from the 16.1% recorded on June 18.

Reporting 270.06 cases and 6.3 new hospital admissions per 100,000 residents, Fairfax County is still seeing a “medium” level of COVID-19 in the community, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 4.2% of staffed, inpatient hospital beds are currently being used by patients with the disease.

As of last Wednesday (July 13), the county saw an estimated 72 people admitted to a hospital for COVID-19 in the preceding week, a 16.7% increase from the previous seven days.

In total, there have been 222,694 COVID-19 cases, 4,730 hospitalizations, and 1,553 deaths among Fairfax Health District residents since the pandemic spread to the area in March 2020.

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