Reston, VA

May is only three days old, but the month is already looking good for Fairfax County on the pandemic front.

The Fairfax Health District, which also includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, reported 53 new COVID-19 cases today (Monday) — the fewest since just 33 cases came in on Oct. 7. That brings the county’s seven-day average down to 82.4 new cases, which is the lowest since the weekly average stood at exactly 82 cases on Oct. 21.

However, where the Oct. 21 number was merely a brief dip in what would escalate into the area’s winter surge, this new low for 2021 is part of a decline in new cases that has lasted since April 13, when Fairfax County recorded 231 new cases and averaged 194.4 cases over the past week.

In fact, since dipping from 105.9 cases on April 28 to 98.9 cases on April 29, the county’s weekly average has stayed below 100 cases for almost a full week.

The Fairfax Health District has reported a total of 76,968 cases, 4,022 hospitalizations, and 1,101 deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The downward trend in COVID-19 cases comes as Fairfax County nears a key milestone in its vaccination campaign: almost half of the county’s residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Virginia Department of Health dashboard, which does not include some federally administered doses, 550,553 Fairfax County residents — 48% of the county’s total population — have gotten at least one dose. That is a higher rate than the state as a whole, which has delivered at least one dose to 3.8 million people, or 45.1% of its population.

At the same time, Fairfax County remains a tick behind Virginia overall when it comes to residents being fully vaccinated. 31.3% of the county’s population — or 359,677 residents — is now fully vaccinated, compared to 32% of the state.

Whether Fairfax County can reach that 50% mark for first-dose vaccinations this week remains to be seen.

After finally obtaining enough doses last week to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine, the county health department received fewer supplies from Virginia in its most recent shipments. 43,480 first and second doses came in during the week of April 26 to May 2, compared to 67,590 doses for the preceding week of April 19-25.

While Virginia lifted its pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 23, the Fairfax County Health Department had not yet ordered any additional batches of the one-shot vaccine as of April 30, because the county still had a small supply that it was using for its homebound and long-term care programs, according to FCHD spokesperson Tina Dale.

“We would place orders for J&J vaccine when community providers we redistribute to require more vaccine and to replenish our stock as needed,” Dale said.

FCHD Assistant Public Health Emergency Management Coordinator Colin Brody told Reston Now that the J&J vaccine has been reintroduced in the county primarily through local pharmacies, which get their supplies directly from the federal government through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

The county says it is aware that some people may be reluctant to get the J&J vaccine after its use was temporarily suspended due to reports of a few recipients developing a rare disorder involving blood clots.

“However the data reviewed by scientists at CDC and FDA indicated that J&J is a safe vaccine to use,” Brody said in an emailed statement. “We continue to receive inquiries from residents about where they can go to receive the J&J vaccine, especially because it is a single-dose option that provides immunity within 2 weeks of the first and only dose, as compared to 5 to 6 weeks with Moderna and Pfizer.”

Images via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

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