Reston, VA

Fairfax County set a new single-day record for new COVID-19 cases over the three-day weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The county’s daily caseload rocketed to 1,485 cases on Sunday (Jan. 17), topping the previous high of 897 cases recorded on Dec. 21 by 588 cases.

The new record was part of a statewide surge that saw Virginia nearly reach 10,000 new cases in one day for the first time since the novel coronavirus was confirmed in the Commonwealth last March. 9,914 cases were reported in the state on Jan. 17, followed by 7,245 cases on Monday, which represented the second-highest daily caseload of the pandemic.

Unlike with previous jumps in new cases, the two-day spike could not be attributed to a lag in reporting.

“This increase is likely due to exposures during the holidays, similar to after Thanksgiving,” the Virginia Department of Health said in a statement reported by Inside NoVA and other news outlets. “VDH reminds Virginians to be vigilant and use the recommended guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

With an additional 313 cases coming in today (Tuesday), the Fairfax Health District has now recorded a total of 55,534 COVID-19 cases, 749 deaths, and 3,191 hospitalizations.

This weekend’s surge came as Virginia expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccines to new populations, including people who are 65 and older or have high-risk medical conditions or a disability.

Fairfax County continues to outpace other jurisdictions in the state in administering vaccinations, delivering 43,161 doses as of this morning. 4,393 people in the county have been fully vaccinated, meaning they have received the required two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

However, limited supplies and technical issues have complicated the vaccine distribution process.

In the week since Fairfax County opened appointments to residents in phase 1b, the online pre-screening registration system and phone hotline set up by the county health department have been overwhelmed by demand multiple times.

As of Jan. 16, more than 40,000 people had registered online or by phone to get a vaccination in the past week, but the vaccine supply “remains very limited,” and not everyone who has registered has been able to secure an actual appointment yet, according to the Fairfax County Health Department.

“We ask for your patience as it may take months to get through these priority groups,” the department said. “There are plans to increase options for vaccine in pharmacies and health care provider options, which over time will give people more choices.”

According to the VDH, Virginia has administered 341,388 vaccine doses total and distributed 943,400 doses. The state is administering 17,464 doses every day, still well shy of the 25,000 vaccinations-per-day goal set by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Image via CDC on Unsplash, chart via Virginia Department of Health

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The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Fairfax County as the statewide rollout of vaccines continues.

So far, 4,181 people have been vaccinated in Fairfax County, with a total of 41,709 vaccines administered nationwide. The Virginia Department of Health began releasing vaccine data on Dec. 23. No second doses in the two-round vaccine have been administered yet.

The record highest count of new daily cases. — 897 — was reported on Dec. 21. Following that peak, the moving weekly average of cases has hovered in the 460s. The third highest peak was reported on Dec. 27 when cases stood at 690. Today, the county reported 330 cases.

The number of hospitalizations in the county has increased steadily over the last few weeks, with a moving seven-day average of 16 hospitalizations. In June, hospitalizations peaked when that average stood in the low 30s. Since the pandemic began, 687 residents in the county have died to the pandemic and nearly 3,000 have been hospitalized.

The current positivity test rate for the state is 12.3 percent, roughly two percentage points below the countywide average.

Last week, the Fairfax County Health Department received 5,000 of the Moderna vaccine, which will be administered to healthcare workers who are not affiliated with hospitals.

Earlier this month, staff in the Inova Health System and Reston Hospital Center received vaccine shipments and began vaccinating staff and affiliated providers. Nursing home residents and staff are also covered in the first phase of the vaccination program.

Photo via Unsplash

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The Fairfax Health District reported 914 new COVID-19 cases today (Monday), a new single-day record for the district, which encompasses the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church as well as Fairfax County.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, Fairfax County reported 897 cases within the past 24 hours, while Fairfax City added 11 cases, and Falls Church added six.

With that flood of new cases, which Fairfax County attributes partly to a data reporting backlog, the Fairfax Health District has now recorded 40,551 cases since the pandemic first arrived in the area in March. 670 people in the district have died from the disease transmitted by the novel coronavirus, and 2,820 people have been hospitalized.

Today’s caseload easily surpasses the previous single-day record of 725 daily cases from Dec. 8, though the weekly average of 437.7 cases remains lower than Dec. 12, when the district averaged 505.1 cases over seven days.

The Fairfax Health District’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate is slightly up from last week, with a seven-day moving average of 11% as of Dec. 17. The 548,789 total testing encounters recorded in Fairfax is by far the most seen in any of Virginia’s health districts.

Fairfax County’s new COVID-19 daily case record comes on the same day that shipments of a vaccine from Moderna are expected to arrive in Virginia. The state had ordered 146,400 doses of the vaccine even before it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 18.

Pfizer has dispersed a total of 72,125 doses of its own vaccine to frontline healthcare workers in Virginia since it started distributing to hospitals in the state last week. A nurse at Inova became the first person in Fairfax County to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus on Dec. 15.

The VDH reported on Dec. 18 that the state will receive an estimated 370,650 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna this month, a smaller allocation than the 480,000 doses that Virginia previously expected to get.

Even with the distribution of vaccines bringing hope of an end to the pandemic in the foreseeable future, local elected officials and health experts have emphasized the need to continue adhering to guidelines for limiting COVID-19’s spread, including wearing face coverings, avoiding travel, and following social distancing protocols.

“I understand everyone would like to see family and friends for Christmas,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Jeff McKay said. “Our COVID-19 cases are rising quickly, however, and we need residents to avoid gatherings with those outside of your household and travel.”

For lower-risk alternatives to typical holiday celebrations, the Fairfax County Health Department has recommendedgathering with family virtually, shopping online, and watching concerts or other festivities on TV.

Image via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

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The number of new daily COVID-19 cases has reached an all-time high as of this weekend, far surpassing the previous peak immediately after Thanksgiving weekend and previous records over the summer.

The county recorded the highest number of new cases in a single day today (Monday) — 617 — since the pandemic began earlier this year. Both numbers exceed case counts that hovered around 500 on Thanksgiving weekend and when cases first peaked in June.

Statewide, cases also continue to soar. On Sunday, the state shattered previous records by recording 3,880 new cases. Over the summer, cases peaked to 2,015.

The latest numbers suggest that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is surging with more strength than ever before, even as the reality of a new vaccine materializes.

Hospitalizations in the state and in the county also continue to climb. Although only 20 hospitalizations were reported today (Monday), the number of new hospitalizations peaked at 53 on Dec. 2.

In Fairfax County, however, the number of hospitalizations remains low. The state reported 20 new hospitalizations today. In early May, hospitalizations peaked at 53.

Another measure to determine community transmission — the weekly test positive rate — also continues to increase. The state’s test positivity rate is 10.8 percent while the county’s is at 11.5 percent. VDH updates data on the COVID-19 pandemic once a day at 5 p.m.

The county and the state have been preparing for the dispersal of a vaccine, which could have federal approval as early as this month. Gov. Ralph Northam previously stated that the first shipment to the state would include roughly 70,000. doses.

Photo via Virginia Department of Health

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With the emergency approval of a COVID-19 vaccine expected before the end of the year, county officials are one step closer to getting ready for mass vaccination planning.

At a meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 1), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept a $500,000 state grant for the county’s mass vaccination program. Funds will be available through the state’s $22 million Coronavirus Relief Fund, which will be used to create a statewide program to distribute the vaccine, once it is available.

Two companies — Pfizer and Moderna — are awaiting emergency authorizations of their vaccines in the United States.  The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration expected to authorize the approvals in mid-December.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices voted earlier this week to make the first priority group health care workers and long-term care residents.

The county’s program also allocates roughly $14 million to help local health districts like the Fairfax Health District prepare for mass vaccination efforts. The grant must be used for facility rental costs, hiring for temporary positions, travel costs, printing, signage, and other expenses related to operating vaccination clinics.

Fairfax County Executive Brian Hill said his health department is actively working on a vaccination plan for the county “as we speak.” He noted that the county’s plan will depend heavily on the state’s strategy and other conditions, including who will receive the vaccine first.

“Once we know the particulars, we will have a plan in place per the Virginia Department of Health guidelines,” Hill said.

A county-based mass vaccination workgroup has been meeting since mid-June to discuss vaccination plans.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn urged the county to provide information on how the plan would be administered. He added that lines for the H1N1 vaccine program rivaled the lines the county recently saw for early voting.

“I just want to make sure we see what the plan is particularly as it relates to logistics,” he said.

Funds from the state grant must be spent by the end of the month, after which point unspent dollars will revert back to the state. However, county staff noted that the federal government could extend the date for the overall program. Acceptance of the grant requires no local match.

State officials are also considering other funding sources to support next year’s vaccination program. The Virginia Department of Health estimates that the program will cost $120 million.

Virginia is expected to get a little over 70,000 doses in the first shipment from Pfizer.

“When our turn comes, my family and I will have no hesitancy about getting vaccinated and I strongly encourage every Virginian to get the vaccine. That is our only path to getting back to that near normal,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press briefing yesterday (Wednesday).

Image via Unsplash

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COVID-19 is now more widespread in Fairfax County than it was when the pandemic’s first wave hit in the spring.

Reporting 262 new cases just today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has recorded a total of 31,388 COVID-19 cases since the novel coronavirus first arrived in March. 2,561 people have been hospitalized, and 638 people have died from the disease.

Fairfax County officially surpassed the spring peak on Nov. 24 when it reported 308.3 cases on average over the previous seven days. The highest seven-day average recorded in the spring was 303 cases on May 31.

The weekly average caseload then hit an all-time high of 352.3 cases on Sunday (Nov. 29) before dipping down to a seven-day average of 324.9 cases today, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

Fairfax County also recorded its highest single-day case count of the pandemic this past weekend when it saw 496 new cases on Nov. 28. The previous record was 493 cases on May 25.

However, Fairfax County’s hospitalization and death rates remain well below where they were in the spring.

Currently, Fairfax County is averaging 7.86 hospitalizations over the past seven days, compared to the peak of 35.57 hospitalizations over seven days recorded on May 4. The county is seeing a seven-day average of 1.29 deaths right now, but the seven-day average was 14 deaths on May 4 after there was a single-day record of 31 deaths on May 3.

The surge in COVID-19 cases that Fairfax County is witnessing right now falls in line with the overall trend for Northern Virginia as a region, which recorded its highest seven-day moving average of 815.7 cases on Nov. 29.

By comparison, the pandemic’s spring surge peaked at a seven-day regional moving average of 685.3 cases on May 31.

The continued upward trajectory of COVID-19’s spread in Fairfax County comes after health officials warned that the traveling, intimate family gatherings, and in-person holiday shopping typically associated with Thanksgiving weekend could exacerbate the pandemic.

Given the lag time between when someone is exposed to the coronavirus and when a new case is actually reported, Fairfax County’s current COVID-19 data suggests the worst may still be on the horizon.

Images via CDC on Unsplash; graphs via Virginia Department of Health, Fairfax County Health Department 

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As Thanksgiving approaches, Fairfax County reported the highest weekly average of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began earlier this year. The news comes as the county and state record peaks in the number of new cases reported and appear to confirm fears of a second wave of cases.

Even as the possibility of a vaccine becomes reality, health officials are urging residents to avoid celebrating the holiday with members outside ones’ household, if possible.

As of today (Monday), the state’s health department reported 453 new cases, second only to the highest number of new cases (493) per day that was reported on June 25. To date, the county has had 38,798 cases, 2,474 hospitalizations and 614 deaths.

Based on the current trajectory of cases, more evidence shows that cases have been growing at an exponential rate in the county over the last month.

The county’s test positivity rate is 8.3 percent, more than one percentage point higher than the statewide test positive rate, which is currently 7.2 percent. In the state, 3,242 new cases were reported today, according to state health data.

Similar surges have been detected regionally recently.

“The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fairfax and Loudoun health districts is officially surging, according to new analysis from the University of Virginia, and the Northern Virginia region’s overall caseload is at its highest level since it peaked May 31,” InsideNova reported.

The Virginia Department of Health attributed some of today’s case counts to “a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades for a few hours this weekend.”

Hospitalizations, however, remain relatively low in the county. As of today, two new hospitalizations were reported and no new deaths were reported.

Photo 1 via Unsplash; photo 2 via Fairfax County Department of Health

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The long awaited COVID-19 vaccine is reportedly on its way.

On Nov. 9, Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech unveiled their preliminary results on a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and BioNTech followed up with an announcement on Nov. 18 that the vaccine is 95% effective with a consistent efficacy across age, race and ethnicity demographics during its ongoing trials.

On Friday, the pair formally requested an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow a faster rollout of a vaccine to the American public.

Shortly after Pfizer and BioNTech’s announcement of their preliminary results, another vaccine candidate co-developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – which is part of the National Institutes of Health – was announced. Moderna and NIAID announced a vaccine efficacy of 94.5% on Nov. 17.

Well before these announcements, though, Fairfax County health officials were preparing for distribution and accessibility of a COVID-19 vaccine once one becomes available.

“We’re working on all of the logistics of getting the vaccine out,” said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Director of Epidemiology and Population Health for the Fairfax County Health Department.

“We’re working on communicating with our health care partners, health care providers, (and) health care organizations so that we can not only make sure we’re able to vaccinate them, but also if they want to deliver vaccine to their patients, that we can tell them how to do so.”

Schwartz advised that plans are still being made as the county and health department learn more about the two-dose vaccine and its availability in the coming weeks or months. Though some plans will need to be finalized, Schwartz shared that a portion of the county’s plans will be to focus initially on priority groups that are most at risk for severe illness. Those groups include health care workers as well as residents and staff of nursing homes.

The method for distribution in the county will also take a variety of approaches, according to Schwartz. He detailed that the vaccine will be distributed in some cases by facility, and by the local health department. He also said that some national chain pharmacies and private providers interested in vaccinating would be a part of the distribution plans.

Those plans are contingent on the availability of a vaccine. The FDA has scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) for Dec. 10 to discuss the EUA request from Pfizer and BioNTech, according to a press release from the FDA. Though the VRBPAC may provide its advice to the FDA, the FDA will have the final decision on the pharmaceutical companies’ EUA request.

If the EUA request is approved, Pfizer has announced plans to distribute the vaccine as soon as possible in December.

“We will continue the work already underway to make sure we can begin shipping the vaccine immediately after authorization or approval,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a video released by the company on Nov. 20.

“Based on current projections, we expect to produce globally up to 50 million doses in 2020 – and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.”

Schwartz explained that once a vaccine is approved, its distribution would be a function of the federal government, and it will decide how to allocate the vaccine to the states. The state health department would then allocate the vaccine to the local health departments or jurisdictions.

“We’re still communicating and learning how that’s going to work,” Schwartz said.

“We are in constant communication with the Virginia Department of Health and still obviously getting more information about how that’s going to occur.”

As of Nov. 23, Fairfax County reported 29,089 cases of COVID-19, with 26,841 confirmed and 2,248 listed as probable. The county’s COVID-19 case data dashboard also shows that 2,505 people have been hospitalized and 629 have died from the novel coronavirus.

Schwartz said that when a vaccine becomes available, he is confident in the county’s ability to distribute it appropriately, based on the county’s experience handling the H1N1 vaccine and years of planning and calculations.

He also stated that at this point, the “most important message is to stay informed and stay tuned.” He said that the county couldn’t share specific information until the FDA authorizes a vaccine and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice for the CDC can make recommendations for distribution practices and what the priority groups are.

Following those authorizations and recommendations, Schwartz said the county’s health department will begin communicating how much vaccine it will have, what groups it will be able to vaccinate and how to get the vaccine. Now, though, Schwartz said that the county wants to begin communicating with people about a vaccine.

“We know that many people look at this vaccine with perhaps some concern because it’s a new vaccine and because it was developed very quickly, quicker than vaccines are usually developed,” Schwartz said.

“We know from surveys that have been done nationally that many people are uncertain or skeptical about the vaccine. So, one of the things we need to do now is to communicate with people and give them information so that when the time comes, they’ll be able to make an informed decision.”

Though news of a potential vaccine coming soon has been met with a wave of acclaim and relief, Schwartz advised tempering excitement, as the vaccine has not yet arrived and will still take time to distribute to everyone.

Schwartz also said that news of a vaccine should not be looked at as a way for people to “loosen up” on public health strategies and other measures that have been put in place to mitigate the virus’ effect.

“It’s important to remind people that even with a vaccine on the horizon, we still need to be rigorous in our prevention measures, the mask wearing, social distancing, staying home when you’re sick, washing your hands,” Schwartz said.

“And that even after people start getting vaccinated, there still will not be what we call ‘herd’ or ‘community immunity’ until a large percentage of our population has gotten a vaccine. Even after a vaccine is given to some people, all of those other measures remain critically important.”

Photo via Unsplash

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Fairfax County recorded a massive jump of 400 COVID-19 cases today (Monday), up from 174 yesterday, due to a backlog in data reporting on the part of the Virginia Department of Health.

The Fairfax Health District added 1,366 cases over the past week for a seven-day average of 195.1 cases, the highest rate since the district saw an average of 197.7 cases over seven days on June 8.

Fairfax County also reported three deaths from COVID-19 over the past week, raising the county’s death toll to 625 people. The county has now reported 27,095 total cases, and 2,440 people have been hospitalized since the Fairfax Health District identified its first presumptive positive case in early March.

The Fairfax Health District currently has a total testing positivity rate of 8.3% out of 392,064 testing encounters, according to the VDH.

Because of the data reporting backlog, the 2,677 cases that the VDH reported today statewide are the most that Virginia has recorded in a single day at any point during the pandemic.

While Virginia’s COVID-19 infection rate remains one of the lowest in the U.S., the clear upward trend in cases that the state has seen over the past 90 days led Gov. Ralph Northam to tighten restrictions on social gatherings and businesses in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“While cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are,” Northam said when announcing the new measures on Nov. 13. “We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse.”

Effective as of midnight on Sunday (Nov. 15), the cap on public and private in-person gatherings has dropped from 250 people to 25. The revised executive order defines gatherings as indoor and outdoor parties, celebrations, and other social events, but the limit does not apply to educational settings.

Religious services can also have more than 25 people in attendance if they adhere to health and social distancing protocols, including having at least six feet of separation between individuals and practicing routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces.

A mask mandate requiring all individuals 10 and older to wear face coverings in indoor public settings that has been in place since May 29 has been expanded to include all individuals aged 5 and over.

Northam has also prohibited the on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol after 10 p.m. in any restaurant, bar, or other food and beverage service establishment.

Finally, violations of social distancing, mask-wearing, and cleaning guidelines by essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, are now punishable by the state health department as Class One misdemeanors.

Photo via Governor of Virginia/Facebook, Virginia Department of Health

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In what’s become a familiar storyline, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb as the week of Nov. 8 saw the highest weekly average of cases since June 7.

The county also reported that 11 people died from COVID-19 on Nov. 7, the highest number of deaths reported in a single day since May 27, when 24 deaths were reported. For most of August and September, the number of deaths remained under five per day. In October, 13 deaths were reported throughout the whole month.

On Nov. 8, the county also saw the highest number of reported cases in one day. A total of 209 cases were reported in the largest single-day spike since early June, when a whopping 399 cases were reported.

But the number of hospitalized patients has not significantly increased — which suggests that individuals who contract the coronavirus do not need major or critical care.

The Fairfax Health District is averaging more than 100 new cases per day, more than any time since mid-June, according to the county. A surge is not yet apparent.

Based on the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) pandemic metrics dashboard, our community transmission level, which had been low since July, has increased to moderate. We must remain vigilant to return to low community transmission,” the county wrote in a statement today.

Case investigators have found hotspots of exposure at work sites, celebratory events and gatherings, and within households.

The county offered the following tips to avoid community transmission:

If someone in your household is ill, immediately take precautions such as wearing masks when in common areas, avoiding shared utensils, and staying 6 feet apart.  

Limit indoor social gatherings, and choose lower risk activities for holiday celebrations.  

Avoid travel as much as possible, particularly to areas of the U.S. experiencing surges of cases. For necessary travel, follow CDC’s guidance to lower risk of COVID-19.  

Photo via Unsplash

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Fairfax County teenagers are vaping less than their peers nationwide, a county survey of middle and high school students found.

15.1% of the 48,915 students who responded to the 2019-2020 Fairfax County Youth Survey reported vaping within the past 30 days, compared to 22.5% of teenagers in the U.S. overall. The survey results were released on Oct. 20.

Nicotine remains the drug most frequently used for vaping, which involves the inhalation of an aerosol through a battery-powered device, but its usage declined from 16.7% in 2018 to under 12% in 2019.

About half as many students reported using flavoring in this year’s survey (5.5%) as they did in the previous year’s (10.3%), but the use of marijuana rose from 8% in 2018 to 9% in 2019.

The number of Fairfax County teens who say they have vaped within their lifetime dropped from 28% in 2018 to 25% in 2019, according to the survey, which is given annually to Fairfax County Public Schools students in sixth, eighth, 10th, and 12th grades.

Fairfax County did not add questions about vaping to its annual youth survey until 2018, making it hard to determine whether the decline in reported vaping is a real trend, but county officials are encouraged by the results.

“The rates for vaping among Fairfax County youth went down considerably from 2018 despite the upward national trend,” Fairfax County Office of Strategy Management for Health and Human Services public information officer Shweta Adyanthaya said. “This is a promising sign that our youth are heeding the concerns regarding vaping in general.”

County officials say they remain concerned about the health effects of vaping, especially during a pandemic caused by a coronavirus that attacks people’s lungs.

Research on how COVID-19 affects people who have used e-cigarettes is limited, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked a contaminant found in e-cigarettes to an outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injuries (EVALI) that had killed or hospitalized 2,807 people in the U.S. as of Feb. 18.

Though it is a potential benefit, the CDC says the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as an aid for helping adults quit smoking is unknown. The agency warns against vaping for youth, young adults, pregnant adults, and adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

“We know that the brains of adolescents continue to develop until about the age [of] 25 and that nicotine can have harmful effects,” Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu said. “Now, with evidence that vaping may be linked with worse outcomes of COVID-19 infection, it’s more important than ever that we offer solutions to help young people.”

FCPS Student Safety and Wellness Office coordinator Stefan Mascoll says 697 students came to the office for tobacco-related substance abuse during the 2019-20 school year, a number that might have been higher if the COVID-19 pandemic did not close schools in March.

“Young people who use e-cigarettes may be vaping even more to cope with stress and social isolation, or they may be experiencing difficult nicotine withdrawal symptoms because of limited access to e-cigarettes,” the Fairfax County Health Department says.

To combat vaping, Fairfax County and FCPS have partnered with the nonprofit Truth Initiative to promote This Is Quitting, a free program that sends supportive text messages to teens and young adults seeking to quit e-cigarettes.

Started in January 2019, This Is Quitting has more than 206,000 enrollees nationwide. People in Fairfax County can join by texting VapeFreeFFX to 88709.

James Madison High School student Sid Thakker, who won an award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2019 for a science fair project about nicotine addiction, has been assisting with the implementation of This Is Quitting in Fairfax County.

“As a senior in high school, I know students aren’t given much information on treatments if they are addicted, but the program is the perfect mix of creative treatments and advice,” Thakker said. “I am excited to see the impact it will make in FCPS.”

Image via Fairfax County

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The number of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County continues to increase with a reported weekly average of cases hovering around the 450-mark. But the data show no signs of acceleration at this point.

In October, the county reported the highest number of weekly cases since Sept. 6, when cases peaked at 494. Since then, 459 cases were reported the week of Oct. 4 and 447 cases the week of Oct. 11. Case rates dipped significantly in June and early August when weekly averages hovered between 308 and 389 cases.

So far, the county has 23,462 confirmed cases, 2,247 hospitalizations, and 606 deaths.

There are no immediate indications of a spike in cases — which is determined when the total confirmed cases are mapped against new confirmed cases per week. In the last month, the familiar story of a slowdown in new cases no longer appears to be the case.

According to county data, in the last three weeks, the rate of new cases charted against the rate of existing cases has stabilized instead of trending downward, which indicates a slowdown in cases.

Fairfax County’s case rate — which is measured by cases per 100,000 people — remains comparable to surrounding counties and health districts. Its case rate of 2,039 cases is slightly above Arlington’s case rate of 1,921 cases. Meanwhile, Alexandria has one of the highest case rates in the area (2,635).

It’s unclear how case trajectories may change throughout the region as flu season and colder temperatures come into full swing.

County health officials are urging residents to take precautions during Halloween and planned trick-or-treating activities, which have been flagged as high-risk activities.

Image via Virginia Department of Health

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Over the past week, Fairfax County recorded its highest seven-day average for COVID-19 cases since mid-June, a potentially worrying development as the weather turns colder and forces more activities indoors.

Fairfax County’s weekly average for new COVID-19 cases hit 118 on Oct. 14, its highest since the county averaged 126 cases over seven days on June 13, according to the latest data from the Virginia Department of Health.

While the seven-day average has dipped back down in subsequent days to 85 cases on average as of Sunday (Oct. 18), Fairfax County joins the rest of Virginia in seeing an upward trend in cases in October, even if its numbers remain significantly lower than those seen in other parts of the state.

On top of reporting two new deaths, both of them on Oct. 17, Fairfax County added 598 COVID-19 cases during the week of Oct. 13-19. The Fairfax Health District has a cumulative total of 22,916 cases, 617 deaths, and 2,239 hospitalizations.

The zip code 22042, which contains West Falls Church south of Route 29, remains the most heavily affected part of the Tysons area, adding 28 cases over the past week for 1,173 cases overall and 3,497 cases per 100,000 persons in a population of 33,537 people.

Though COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County have ticked up in October compared to late September, the county has not yet seen another surge in transmissions like the one that hit this spring, which peaked with a weekly average of 303 cases on May 31.

Since that spring surge, Northern Virginia in general has been reporting lower case rates than the rest of the state, with a moving seven-day average of 238 cases as of Oct. 19 compared to 799 cases on average for all other regions.

As a whole, Virginia recorded a seven-day moving average of 1,037 on Oct. 19, and the state has added 7,258 COVID-19 cases over the past week for a statewide total of 166,828 cases. Virginia has reported 11,882 hospitalizations and 3,457 deaths.

With public health experts predicting that the COVID-19 pandemic will worsen this winter as the weather gets colder, Fairfax County officials are discouraging people from engaging in trick-or-treating, indoor costume parties, and other traditional celebrations for Halloween this year.

“In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread,” Fairfax Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu said. “For people who are more likely to experience severe illness from COVID-19, celebrating virtually or with members of your own household may be the safest way to enjoy the holiday.”

Image via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

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After conditions stabilized in July and early August, the sliding average of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County is slowly on the rise.

Although the increase is best described as an uptick, the weekly average of new cases hit a count of 105 yesterday (Monday). Following a dip in July, the rolling weekly average of new cases hovered in the 90s.

In October, the health district also hit the highest number of new daily cases since June 7 when 399 cases were reported. State data show 185 new cases were reported on Oct. 8. 

Overall, there have been 22,089 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County, 2,195 hospitalizations, and 599 deaths.  After a slowdown in the rate of new cases per week in June and July, the number of weekly cases grew slightly in August and September. The weekly average for both months hovered around 424 cases. In June and July, that number hovered in the low 300s.

Herndon remains a hotspot for COVID-19 cases, with a case incidence of 3,524 cases per 100,000 people, according to county data.

Despite these numbers and the size of the jurisdictions, Fairfax County’s case rate is somewhat low compared to other jurisdictions and health districts. As of today (Tuesday), the case rate is 1,919. Alexandria’s case rate is 2,512 while Arlington’s is 1,772.

Statewide, the number of COVID019 cases is nearly 160,000, with 3,361 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

County health officials continue to urge residents to get tested if symptoms develop or if exposure is possible.

Image via Virginia Department of Health, Unplash

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Thursday Morning Notes

Virginia Prepares for Possibility of Vaccine Dispersal — “The Virginia Department of Health sent a letter to health care providers informing them that the department is preparing for the potential release of a vaccine for COVID-19 as early as Nov. 1. The letter represents a “call to action” to health care providers to prepare to provide a vaccine but does not mean that a vaccine will be available in November, the department said.” [Reston Patch]

Activities in a Box Now Available — Reston Association is now offering Activities in a Box for members who are age 55 and above is available for pre-order. Each box includes different activities and a link to connect virtually for coffee or happy hour. [RA]

More Business Can Apply for Small Business Grant Program — More business sectors can now apply for the Rebuild! Va Grant Fund, a program intended to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations whose operations were disrupted by COVID-19. [Fairfax County Government]

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