Fairfax County COVID-19 Cases Hit New High over MLK Weekend

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 is 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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