COVID Situation in Fairfax County

If you do not read past the headline, you may get comfortable with the idea that we are no longer under the threat of coronavirus. The governor of Virginia has just relaxed restrictions and Fairfax county public schools are scheduled to return to in-person classes next week. The introductory paragraph of the governor's new executive order, however, tells a sobering picture:  "Even though case counts are decreasing, there is still a cause for concern and a need for continued restrictions. Virginia’s seven-day moving average of new COVID19 cases is still more than 2,000 per day, which is higher than at any point in the first nine months of the pandemic. Virginia’s seven-day PCR percent test positivity rate is 8.3 percent. The statewide rate of COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations (3.8 per 100,000) is still above the threshold of concern (3.5 per 100,000)." We are not yet in a position that is better than either March or September last year when schools have gone virtual. There is optimism, grounded on estimates of how many people have already been infected and how many people would have been vaccinated by April. This optimism should be tempered by actual data. Data from the state of Illinois provide a very useful glimpse of where most COVID transmissions are occurring. The largest fraction comes from schools.

Above copied from
Illinois Department of Health

The state of Illinois currently has a 7-day average of 14 per 100000 new cases each day. The state of Virginia has a 7-day average of 22 per 100000 new cases each day, 57 percent higher than in Illinois. Fairfax county has 17 per 100000 new cases each day, which is 19 percent higher than the threshold recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) for school reopening. 

A more accurate look at the current COVID situation in Fairfax county is provided by the New York Times:

And the New York Times adds:

Our policies should be guided by data and not wishful thinking.