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New COVID-19 Cases Flatten Out as Fairfax County Prepares to Get Third Vaccine

The rate of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Fairfax Health District remained steady over the past week, as Virginia announced over the weekend that a third vaccine will be available for distribution starting this week.

With an additional 132 cases reported today (Monday), there have now been a total of 67,547 COVID-19 cases recorded in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. The novel coronavirus has put 3,564 people in the hospital and killed 969 people since the district identified its first presumptive positive case roughly one year ago.

Fairfax County has averaged 198 new cases over the past seven days, maintaining a weekly average has hovered around 200 cases since Feb. 20. While that represents a significant decline from the winter peak of 697 cases on Jan. 17, the COVID-19 case rate has not yet returned to the relatively low levels seen last summer and into the fall before cold weather set in.

With new cases and testing positivity rates falling across Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam has eased some of the public health restrictions that had been put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Starting today, the 10 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales at bars and restaurants has been lifted, and the caps on outdoor social gatherings has increased from 10 to 25 people. After previously being limited to 250 people, outdoor entertainment and amusement venues can also now have up to 1,000 people or 30% capacity.

The most notable development in the U.S.’s efforts to control the pandemic came on Saturday (Feb. 27), when the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization to a new COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson that only requires one dose, instead of the two needed for the already authorized Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines.

The Virginia Department of Health said that the state expects to receive 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week that will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics. An additional allotment will go to pharmacies that are participating in a federal partnership that focuses on vaccinating people 65 and older.

“VDH encourages all providers who schedule vaccine appointments to advise individuals which vaccine they will receive,” the state health department said. “…All three vaccines have been proven to be effective at preventing COVID-19-related hospitalization and death.”

According to the VDH data dashboard, Fairfax County has now administered 224,329 vaccine doses to 140,803 people. 83,526 people in the county have been fully vaccinated.

The Fairfax County Health Department is still working through the 44,036 people who signed up for a vaccine appointment on Jan. 18, which saw more registrations than any other day so far. As of 10 a.m. today, the county had registered 267,170 people for an appointment, 95,457 of whom were still on the waitlist.

Images via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

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