COVID-19 transmission stays low, but Fairfax County health officials warn of Delta variant

With the Fourth of July now in the rearview mirror, community transmission of the novel coronavirus remains low in Fairfax County, but some indicators suggest COVID-19 levels could be on the rise again.

With the addition of four new cases today (Tuesday), the Fairfax Health District has reported exactly 100 new cases over the past week — almost as many as the entire month of June — bringing to the total for Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church to 78,204 cases.

The weekly average has ticked back up since mid-June, climbing from zero cases over the preceding week on June 19 to 13.3 cases today, as has the testing positivity rate, which went from a moving seven-day average of 0.7% on June 27 to 0.9% as of July 2, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

These trends reflect the state of the pandemic in Virginia as a whole, which saw May’s steady decline in cases level out in June and now has a weekly average of 180 cases, up from an all-time low of 129 cases on June 20.

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over the past 90 days, as of July 6, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

Fairfax County’s primary metrics of a 0.9% testing positivity rate and 1.2 new daily cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days are still well within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s thresholds for a low level of community transmission, which is defined as fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate under 5%.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 testing positivity as of July 6, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

In addition, the severity of cases has been reduced from earlier in the pandemic. The Fairfax Health District reported one hospitalization in the past week for a total of 4,138 people and four deaths for 1,145 deaths overall.

In a blog post published on Friday (July 2), the Fairfax County Health Department attributed the continued low levels of COVID-19 transmission to its ability to identify and isolate individuals who are sick with the respiratory disease and the success of the ongoing vaccination campaign.

According to the FCHD vaccine data dashboard, 743,038 Fairfax Health District residents have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. That is 62.8% of the overall population and three out of every four adults (75.1%). 651,344 residents — 66.5% of adults and 55% of the total population — have been fully vaccinated.

“While we still have work to do and need those unvaccinated to continue to be diligent and wear masks, Fairfax County has made incredible strides in our vaccination efforts,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a newsletter on Friday, reporting that there is only one zip code in the county with a vaccination rate under 70%.

McKay announced that the county flag outside the Fairfax County Government Center has returned to full mast to reflect the end of Virginia’s COVID-19 State of Emergency at the beginning of July. The county’s state of emergency remains in place, however.

County health officials also warn that COVID-19 case levels could surge, particularly among people who have not been vaccinated, due to the spread of variants. The Delta variant first detected in India is considered the biggest current threat.

As of July 2, Northern Virginia had recorded 596 infections caused by variants of concern, including 17 cases confirmed to come from the Delta variant. That variant, which has proven especially contagious, now accounts for more than one in every five cases nationwide, according to the FCHD.

The county health department says studies suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized in the U.S. “remain very effective against the Delta variant.”

“Vaccination remains the best tool in preventing a Delta surge,” Fairfax County Director of Epidemiology and Population Health Director Dr. Benjamin Schwartz said in a statement. “This virus can take advantage of any cracks in our defenses. For those who have not yet gotten vaccinated, I urge you to do so. Your actions will keep us on the road to recovery from the pandemic.”

Fairfax County residents can find sites offering COVID-19 vaccinations through vaccines.gov or the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).

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