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Fairfax County’s community COVID-19 transmission drops to “moderate,” but masks still recommended

An illustration of a coronavirus (via CDC/Unsplash)

For the first time since the end of July, Fairfax County is seeing only a moderate level of COVID-19 transmission in the community.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the county reported just 41.8 new cases per 100,000 people during the week of Oct. 31 through Nov. 6, down from 50.2 cases over the previous seven days. That puts it in the 10-49 case threshold for a moderate level of community spread.

The county’s 2.4% testing positivity rate falls in the “low” transmission threshold, but federal and state health officials use the metric that is higher to categorize a locality’s spread.

“We are currently seeing a downward trend in Fairfax County COVID-19 cases, largely because residents have been proactive in getting themselves and their families vaccinated,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “In addition, our community has remained diligent in following COVID-19 mitigation practices. These efforts are producing results.”

Fairfax County’s COVID-19 community transmission levels dropped to moderate for the week of Oct. 31 to Nov. 6 (via Virginia Department of Health)

Fueled by the spread of the Delta variant, Fairfax County started seeing substantial COVID-19 spread on Aug. 4, prompting county leaders to revive their recommendation that everyone wear a face mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

The county has required masks inside its facilities since Aug. 9, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for localities with substantial or high transmission.

However, with all surrounding Northern Virginia jurisdictions still seeing substantial transmission, the county’s mask requirement will remain in place for the time being.

“Because we know that residents of Northern Virginia travel and interact throughout the region, we will continue to monitor and work in partnership with our neighbors to reach safer levels before changing masking requirements,” McKay said.

With another 54 cases added today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has recorded a total of 93,990 COVID-19 cases, 4,387 hospitalizations, and 1,214 deaths during the pandemic, according to the Fairfax County Health Department.

The current seven-day average of 66.6 new cases is on par with where the county was on July 27 and just under half the weekly average of 153 cases reported one year ago, when the coronavirus’ winter surge was starting to kick in.

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over the past 180 days as of Nov. 11, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)
All Fairfax County COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 8, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

As COVID-19 cases continue to decline, Fairfax County has seen an uptick in vaccinations, buoyed by the availability of booster shots and last week’s expansion of eligibility to children aged 5-11.

According to county health department data, 833,789 Fairfax Health District residents, or 70.4% of the population, have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That includes 83.3% of individuals 18 and older.

McKay says the pediatric vaccine rollout “has gotten off to a strong start,” but the county didn’t provide more specific information about how many vaccinations have been administered to that age group so far.

Fairfax County Public Schools will hold its first vaccine clinic for elementary school-aged children this afternoon at Franklin Sherman Elementary School, with first lady Jill Biden visiting.

Appointments can also be scheduled with FCHD, the Tysons Community Vaccination Center, Inova, and community sites like pharmacies and grocery stores at vaccines.gov.

760,125 Fairfax Health District residents — 76.2% of adults and 64.2% of the overall population — are fully vaccinated.

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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