Despite an unusually cool Memorial Day weekend, Fairfax County could be in for more routine summer compared to last year, as trends in COVID-19 cases and vaccinations suggest that the worst of the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, at least on a local level.
Three new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Fairfax Health District today (Monday), including two in Fairfax County and one from Fairfax City. However, the Virginia Department of Health subtracted two cases from Falls Church City’s total, so the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard shows just one new case.
FCHD spokesperson Tina Dale told Reston Now last week that data reviews sometimes lead to cases being removed because they are determined to be duplicates or to have occurred in another health district.
Even with 78 new cases coming in on Thursday (May 27), just before Memorial Day weekend, case levels are continuing to fall in Fairfax County, which is currently averaging 20.3 new cases over the past seven days. The weekly average hasn’t been this low since March 28, 2020, when it was at 19.1 cases and the pandemic’s initial spring surge was only just emerging.
The Fairfax Health District has now recorded 78,003 total cases, 4,116 hospitalizations, and 1,129 deaths.
The continued decline in cases has supported a gradual easing of public health restrictions over the past couple of months. After lifting its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals in most public settings earlier in May, Virginia officially ended all capacity limits and social distancing requirements this past Friday (May 28).
Because of the novel coronavirus’ incubation period, though, the true impact of those changes and the rise in travel and social gatherings over Memorial Day weekend won’t be evident for another two weeks.
Health officials have also pointed to the potential for new, more transmissible variants to emerge as a reason to remain cautious, particularly for people who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet.
“The best way to stop variants from developing in the first place is to stop the spread of the virus,” Fairfax County Director of Epidemiology and Population Health Dr. Benjamin Schwartz said in a recent blog post. “I encourage people who have not gotten vaccinated to consider making vaccination a part of their holiday plans.”
Given the availability of vaccines, the county hopes to avoid another resurgence of the virus akin to the second wave that hit last fall and over the winter, when cold weather kept people indoors and the holiday season led to an uptick in travel and gatherings.
According to the county health department’s new vaccine data dashboard, 675,696 Fairfax Health District residents — 74.7% of all adults and 57.1% of the overall population — have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, outpacing the federal goal of administering at least one dose to 70% of adults by July 4.
539,394 residents — or 59.6% of adults and 45.6% of the total population — have been fully vaccinated, meaning that at least two weeks have passed since they’ve received all needed shots. That puts the county ahead of Virginia as a whole, which has vaccinated 55.9% of adults and delivered at least one shot to 67.1% of adults.
Chart via Virginia Department of Health