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Inova Fairfax Hospital (via Google Maps)

People who were at Inova Fairfax Hospital’s emergency department earlier this week may have been exposed to measles, the Virginia Department of Health reported today (Wednesday).

According to VDH, an unvaccinated child who contracted measles while traveling abroad had visited the hospital at 3300 Gallows Road during the following times:

  • May 15: 5:30 p.m. to May 16 at 2 a.m.
  • May 16: 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

The individual was also present at the Kaiser Permanente Ashburn Medical Center in Loudoun County from 2-5 p.m. on May 13.

“Outside of these specific locations and times, it is currently believed that the risk to the community is low,” the department said in a news release.

Individuals who may have been exposed at Inova can contact VDH’s Fairfax call center at 202-851-9616.

VDH says anyone who has gotten two doses of a vaccine against measles is protected and doesn’t need to take any action.

Those who have only gotten one dose of vaccine are likely protected, but the department advises contacting a health care provider and scheduling a second dose to ensure full protection.

Anyone who has not been vaccinated against measles or contracted the disease should contact the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-246-2411 or a health care provider.

“If you notice the symptoms of measles, stay home and away from others, and immediately call your primary health care provider or health department to discuss further care,” VDH said. “Call ahead before going to the medical office or the emergency room and tell them that you were exposed to measles.”

Symptoms of the highly contagious disease typically emerge in two stages:

Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of an infected individual. Measles symptoms usually appear in two stages. In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes, and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body.

According to the department, measles are “easily preventable” with a vaccination, and children should get two doses, first between the ages of 12-15 months and a second one before they’re 4-6. VDH also recommends that everyone get evaluated for measles immunity and vaccinated before traveling internationally.

A previous potential exposure to measles was reported at Inova Fairfax in February. The Fairfax Health District, which includes the county and cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, also recorded 12 cases last fall as part of an outbreak among people who came from Afghanistan during the U.S.’s evacuation efforts.

Photo via Google Maps

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Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of March 28, 2022 (via VDH)

Fairfax County saw a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases this past week, but the overall level of community transmission remains low.

After seeing mostly double-digit daily caseloads during the previous week, the Fairfax Health District — including the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church — reported 157 new cases on Wednesday (March 23), 154 cases on Friday (March 25), and a total of 249 cases over the weekend, including 75 new cases today (Monday).

On its data dashboard, the Virginia Department of Health reported all of this weekend’s cases today, pushing the district’s rolling seven-day average up to 117 cases — the highest it’s been since March 9.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still classifies the county’s community transmission level as low based the case rate per 100,000 residents (52.55), new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 residents (1.6) and the percentage of staffed inpatient beds used by patients with confirmed COVID-19 (1.5%).

Overall, the district has recorded 179,419 total COVID-19 cases, 4,446 hospitalizations, and 1,485 deaths during the pandemic. The four most recent confirmed deaths, based on the date of death, came during the week of March 5.

All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases as of March 28, 2022 (via VDH)

The omicron variant is still responsible for majority of cases in the area, but a subvariant known as BA.2 has been gaining ground. It is behind 34.9% of infections in the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Virginia, according to the CDC.

The subvariant is more transmissible than the original omicron variant and triggered a new surge in cases across Europe this month.

However, scientists say it does not appear to cause more severe illnesses. Vaccinations remain effective at preventing severe illness and death, and the similarities between the variants means that people who were infected with omicron may have some immunity to BA.2.

According to the Fairfax County Health Department, vaccinations in the district have slowed to a crawl, with only about 200 more residents obtaining a first dose since last Monday (March 21).

As of today, 965,535 district residents, or 81.6%, have received at least one vaccine dose, including:

  • 90.6% of people 18 and older
  • 96.8% of 16-17 year olds
  • 92.5% of 12-15 year olds
  • 52.9% of 5-11 year olds

There are 873,032 fully vaccinated residents, which is 73.8% of the population, including 82.5% of adults.

In Fairfax County, 477,892 people — or 41.5% of residents — have gotten a booster or third dose, including 50.7% of adults and 32.6% of people aged 12 to 17, VDH’s data dashboard shows.

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There is still a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the Fairfax County Government Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

About eight months after the delta variant revived face masks, Fairfax County’s COVID-19 case rate has dropped back into double digits.

With 53 new cases today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, is now averaging 87 cases reported a day for the past week — its lowest seven-day average since Aug. 1, 2021, when it was seeing 86 cases per day.

Case levels have declined precipitously since peaking at a weekly average of 2,590 cases on Jan. 13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still classifies community transmission levels as low based on its current hospitalization-focused metrics.

As of Friday (March 18), there had been 21 county residents newly admitted into a hospital with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. The county’s seven-day average of 1.9 per 100,000 residents represented a 35% drop from the previous week, according to CDC data.

In total, 4,440 Fairfax Health District residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 during the pandemic. There have been 178,716 cases and 1,476 deaths.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of March 21, 2022 (via VDH)
All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases as of March 21, 2022 (via VDH)

With cases continuing to fall, demand for vaccinations has slowed to the point where the Virginia and Fairfax County health departments are preparing to close two mass vaccine sites at the end of this week, citing “a diminished need” for that approach.

Since the first supplies arrived in December 2020, more than 2.2 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Fairfax Health District. 965,319 residents — 81.6% of the population — have gotten at least one dose.

According to Fairfax County Health Department data, that includes:

  • 90.6% of people aged 18 and older
  • 96.8% of 16-17 year olds
  • 92.4% of 12-15 year olds
  • 52.7% of 5-11 year olds

Fairfax County’s vaccination rates for the 5-11 and 12-17 age groups (58.4% and 94%, respectively) are among the highest in the state, the Virginia Department of Health says.

In addition, 41.2% of county residents have gotten a booster shot or third dose, including 50.2% of adults and 32.2% of youth aged 12-17.

However, the future of Virginia’s vaccination campaign could become hazier, as federal health officials warn that funding for COVID-19 response efforts, including vaccines and tests, is running out — even as a highly transmissible omicron subvariant takes hold in the U.S.

Brought about after Congress eliminated a $15 billion coronavirus aid package from its budget bill last week, the White House says the funding collapse could affect everything from the availability of antibody treatments to vaccine and testing reimbursements for uninsured individuals.

The Virginia Department of Health says it’s not clear yet how the federal funding shortfall will affect the state’s vaccination program, but testing efforts are safe for now.

“VDH’s COVID testing programs are funded through a grant that will not be impacted by the federal government’s funding challenges,” the department’s central office said in a statement.

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The COVID-19 testing site at the Fairfax County Government Center has closed less than a month after its launch.

The Virginia Department of Health shut down the Community Testing Center yesterday (Wednesday) as part of a statewide shift away from mass test sites in favor of a mobile “CTC+” initiative focused on communities with accessibility barriers.

“As the community response has decreased at the large-tent, fixed testing sites, the Virginia Department of Health is transitioning to a flexible response where the testing van can be moved and located in areas with low access to testing,” VDH COVID-19 Testing Co-Lead Suzie Trotter said by email.

The Fairfax County CTC opened on Jan. 15 in response to the omicron variant’s arrival in December, which pushed local Covid caseloads to record heights and triggered soaring demand for testing that strained limited supplies.

Trotter says the number of tests conducted at VDH’s nine CTCs “dropped off significantly over the past week,” as the latest surge in the pandemic has started to recede. The supply shortage has also eased with an increased availability of testing kits through pharmacies and other retail sites, along with the launch of a federal program that mails free at-home kits.

The Fairfax CTC conducted tests for 4,394 people over its 19 days of operations, according to Trotter, who says the closure date was determined far enough in advance to cut off appointments.

“VDH has a role to continue to support the safety net and support testing to those that either have difficulty getting to a test site or have low access to testing in their community,” Trotter said. “Mobile vans will allow access to testing in areas that have never had the opportunity to have testing nearby.”

Set to begin operations on Tuesday (Feb. 15), the CTC+ initiative consists of vans that will travel to different locations with no-cost PCR diagnostic tests based on community need, as requested by local health departments.

There will be just one van to serve the entire Northern Virginia region, but Trotter says it will “maintain a weekly presence” in the Fairfax Health District, though an official schedule has not been determined yet.

The Fairfax County Health Department will evaluate a variety of factors when choosing testing sites, such as case levels and positivity rates, the availability of existing testing resources, and accessibility, spokesperson Lucy Caldwell told FFXnow.

“This resource joins other FCHD testing resources that will continue to target communities most in need of testing,” Caldwell said by email.

Other testing options include health care providers, retail pharmacies, and FCHD clinics. The county has also restarted its mobile laboratory, which tests people with symptoms and is next scheduled to appear at the Safeway at Engleside Plaza in Mount Vernon.

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