After several days of increases in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Loudoun, local authorities are urging younger residents to take more precautions.
For the first time in more than a month, Loudoun last week registered four consecutive days of increased numbers of coronavirus cases.
On Monday, Loudoun County health officials said more than half of those new positive tests involved residents age 29 and younger. During the past week, 150 people between the ages of 16 and 18 years old tested positive for COVID-19, representing 58 percent of all patients in that age group since the pandemic began, they reported.
“We are taking a closer look at these cases to determine what may be causing the increase in COVID-19 among our younger population,” Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend said in the announcement. “I suspect that many teens and young adults are increasingly participating in activities that involve larger gatherings of people, such as beach week and other celebrations, which has increased their exposure to others outside their families.”
While the number of cases is increasing, the pace of testing for the virus has been flat or declining. On Sunday, fewer than 200 test results were reported for the first time since May 11. More than 20 percent of those returned positive results, the highest one-day positivity percentage since May 21.
The increasing caseload and the climbing positivity rate will be closely watched as the commonwealth on Wednesday enters Phase Three of relaxing restrictions on social gatherings. Also important is the number of daily hospitalizations, which decreased over the weekend after a week-long spike.
While 75 percent of Loudoun’s 87 fatal cases of COVID-19 infections have involved patients aged 80 or older, nearly half of the patients requiring hospital treatment are under age 60. A quarter are between the ages of 30 and 59. Three children under the age of 10 are among the 271 residents who have been treated in a hospital.
In Loudoun, 10.6 percent of cases involve residents between the ages of 10 and 19; statewide that figure is only 6.8 percent.
Health officials cautioned about the increased risk for exposure in large gatherings, including senior week festivities, beach trips, house parties and this week’s Fourth of July celebrations.
“While younger people may feel invincible, it is critical that all of us take the necessary precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 because the virus is still circulating in our community, particularly staying home and away from others when sick and wearing face coverings while in public,” Goodfriend said.
Health officials urge anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 after large gathering to see a doctor and to notify others who were with them so they can take precautions as well.
The recommended safety rules remain the same:
· Avoid large gatherings of people and sharing living spaces with people outside your immediate household.
· Practice social distancing: stay 6 feet apart from others whenever possible.
· Wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in public, particularly indoors.
· Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol when soap and water are not available.
· Stay home when sick, except when seeking medical care.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick, including in your home.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces frequently.
· Cover coughs and sneezes when not wearing a face covering.
Learn more at loudoun.gov/coronavirus.