After a one-week drop back into “substantial” territory, Fairfax County is once again seeing high levels of COVID-19 transmission.
For the week of Sept. 5-11, the county saw 111 new cases per 100,000 residents, and 4.1% of tests came back positive for COVID-19 — the two metrics used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health to measure the level of community spread.
While the testing positivity rate remains low, the number of cases per 100,000 people has climbed over the 100-case threshold for high transmission.
The rise stems in part from the addition of 286 cases on Friday (Sept. 10), the most new infections that the county has seen in one day since 397 new cases were reported on Feb. 13, according to VDH data. Feb. 21 came close with 283 cases.
As a result, Fairfax County is now averaging 184.4 new cases per day for the past week, surpassing the summer high of 182.6 cases on Aug. 30. The seven-day average is still below the spring peak of 194.4 cases recorded on April 13.
With 130 more cases coming in today (Monday), 86,347 residents of the Fairfax Health District — which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church — have contracted the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 4,250 people have been hospitalized, and 1,170 people have died, according to the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard.
As the particularly contagious Delta variant keeps driving up COVID-19 cases statewide, the VDH announced last Tuesday (Sept. 7) that it has added more than 170 community testing events across the Commonwealth in response to an increase in people seeking to get tested.
That increase extends to the Fairfax Health District, which received more test results in the week of Aug. 29 than any other week since Jan. 24. Testing declined the following week of Sept. 5 leading into Labor Day weekend.
COVID-19 tests remain widely available in Fairfax County from primary care providers, health clinics, and a variety of other community testing sites, such as pharmacies. The county recommends that anyone experiencing symptoms or who has come in close contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19 get tested, regardless of their vaccination status.
However, the majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Virginia continue to occur in unvaccinated people, who have developed the disease at 8.5 times the rate of fully vaccinated individuals since mid-January, according to the VDH.
In the Fairfax Health District, 793,392 people have gotten at least one vaccine dose. That constitutes 67% of all residents, including 79.2% of people 18 and older, but it also means just 1,457 more people have gotten a shot since Tuesday.
719,571 Fairfax Health District residents — 72.2% of adults and 60.8% of the overall population — are fully vaccinated.
Local, state, and federal officials have taken an increasingly hardline approach in recent weeks to urging the remaining eligible unvaccinated Americans to get their shot.
President Joe Biden announced a host of new vaccine mandates on Thursday (Sept. 9), including ordering all employers with at least 100 workers to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing.
“President Biden’s directive to employers with 100 or more employees to require their employees to be vaccinated will build more momentum for COVID-19 vaccination in the private sector. VDH echoes that call,” Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said in a statement.
Oliver noted that many major employers in Virginia, including the state government, have already issued mandates.
The Fairfax County government and public school system announced on Aug. 20 that they will require staff to get vaccinated or face weekly testing, though the exact timing of when those requirements will take effect remains nebulous.
Private employers in the county that have implemented vaccine requirements include Capital One, Inova Health System, Google, and Microsoft.
“With the U.S. averaging close to 150,000 cases and about 1,500 deaths per day, primarily attributable to the Delta variant, it is imperative we do all we can to beat back this surge,” Oliver said.
Photo via CDC/Unsplash
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