As Loudoun County surpassed having 75,000 residents receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend on Tuesday warned it’s too soon now to let up on mitigation steps.
Over the past several days, the daily count of new COVID-19 cases has begun to level off and even climb slightly after dropping from a mid-January high. As of March 16, the seven-day rolling average of new cases each day is 67. And other than the initial spike in cases over the summer, that is still higher than any time before Nov. 23, as the holiday spike in cases began.
Goodfriend pointed out that is with vaccinations ongoing, and more than 24,000 people having already had the virus.
“It’s a reflection of, to a large extent, people being tired of following the mitigation factors, and this is the time when we really need to double down,” Goodfriend said during a briefing with the Board of Supervisors. “We have spring break coming up, we have Easter and other holidays, and we have a vaccine here, so I just really encourage folks to follow those mitigation strategies.”
He also encouraged people to avoid travel if possible, or to travel in small groups with family, with infections arising from carpools or people traveling together to sports competitions.
“There is concern that there is going to be a third wave related to new variants, and the fewer cases we have, the less likely that those new variants can take hold in Loudoun County,” Goodfriend said.
He also offered a mea culpa for a decision to close the county’s largest vaccination site at the Dulles Town Center mall on Saturdays. He said that decision was made in an attempt to use the site more efficiently amid limited vaccine supplies.
“We weren’t fully utilizing our Dulles Town Center POD, we wanted to see how we could best utilize it, so I agreed to the decision to go down to five days a week instead of six,” Goodfriend said. “Unfortunately, that impacted some folks for whom a Saturday appointment time was very important, so I apologize for that.”
He has reversed that decision; however, Saturday appointments will not begin again until March 27, he said. The vaccine doses for March 20 have already been reallocated to other appointments.
“What we’re going to do is take a much more thoughtful approach, if vaccine numbers don’t increase, to see if five days a week make the most sense,” Goodfriend said. But If the system works best in five days, Saturday will be one of them.
As of March 16, 110,000 doses have been administered to Loudoun residents. Nearly 76,000 people have received at least on shot and 38,932 people in Loudoun have been fully vaccinated.
Next week, Loudoun expects to receive 12,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 5,600 for first doses.
Goodfriend said that, at this point, every county resident age 65 and older should be scheduled for a vaccine. Those in that age range who have signed up, but have not received an appointment should call the Health Department hotline, 703-737-8300—or check their email spam folder to see if there is a misrouted message.
Once the 65+ group and high-risk residents are vaccinated, the Health Department will move on to essential workers in the 1b grouping, including grocery and agricultural workers, mail carriers and cleaning staffs. Goodfriend said those in the 1c group—including utility and transportation workers, those in food service, finance and legal service, among others—can expect to join the line by early April.
The Virginia Department of Health has counted 24,060 COVID-19 cases in Loudoun County. The virus has killed 265 people in Loudoun.