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Testing Times

As COVID-19 cases rise, so does ‘pandemic fatigue’

  • Updated
  • 12
  • 4 min to read
Page 1 COVID.jpg

A member of the Prince William County Health Department tests for COVID-19 at the Woodbridge Senior Center, Monday.

As new cases of COVID-19 increase in Prince William County and across Northern Virginia, experts are expressing concern about the winter and the onset of “pandemic fatigue.”

According to updated Virginia Department of Health data released Monday, Northern Virginia is back up to a “moderate” level of community transmission for the virus that causes COVID-19.

In addition, the Prince William Health District – which encompasses the county as well as the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park – has the highest test positivity rate in the region at 6% as of Wednesday.

Other indicators of the virus’ spread, such as hospitalizations and ventilator usage, are down from highs in the spring. In its most recent weekly report, the University of Virginia’s COVID-19 model showed the Prince William district in the “slow growth” category, below “in surge” but above “plateau.”

Hardest-hit Zip codes

The Prince William Health District has five of the top 11 Zip codes in Northern Virginia in terms of number of COVID-19 cases reported to date per 100,000 population.   

Rank

Zip Code

Cases per 100,000 people

1

20164 - Sterling

477.2

2

20110 - Manassas

462.4

3

22305 - Alexandria

456.9

4

20109 - Manassas

446.3

5

22306 - Alexandria

433.2

6

22191 - Woodbridge

422.7

7

22150 - Springfield

407.1

8

20111- Manassas

400.5

9

22311 - Alexandria

393.2

10

22041 - Falls Church

377.3

11

22193 - Woodbridge

369.7

SOURCE: Northern Virginia Regional Commission. Data as of Oct. 19.

 In all three variations of its model, the report predicts an increase in weekly confirmed cases statewide from now through the end of the year but expects that no region in Virginia will exceed its hospital capacity.

Amira Roess, a global health and epidemiology professor at George Mason University, said she’s seeing “pandemic fatigue” and a growing aversion to being tested. At the same time, she said, a fall and winter surge in cases is almost inevitable.

“As we move into the colder months we will likely see a surge in cases and an increase in demand for testing. This may lead to shortages in supplies and delays getting test results,” Roess told InsideNoVa this week.

“I fully expect cases to rise because as the weather gets colder, people will move to socialize and to eat out,” she added. “We know that eating out at restaurants is linked to cases and we will likely see more people eating indoors. … During the holidays, we have many indoor gatherings, and we know that indoor gatherings are also linked to outbreaks.”

The level of COVID positivity in the health district is crucial to the question of school reopenings. Prince William County Public Schools plans to phase in a return to in-person classes in a hybrid format for elementary school students starting Nov. 10, with middle and high schoolers expected to follow in late January or early February, but the school system has emphasized those plans are subject to change. Students and their parents can choose to remain in remote learning.

Manassas City Public Schools has not announced any plans for a return to in-person learning for the vast majority of its students.

At a joint meeting between the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and the school board Oct. 13, School Board Chair Babur Lateef said more testing would help to encourage school reopenings by driving down the county’s positivity rate.

“In Fairfax … they give [testing] out like candy,” Lateef said. “I’m asking you guys to help us do more testing.”

But by all accounts, there’s more free public testing available in the county than there is demand, a shift from the late spring and early summer when public testing sites ran out of tests before they were scheduled to end. 

Last Friday, with a half-hour left for public testing at SplashDown Waterpark outside Manassas, Prince William County Fire Department employees and health-care workers stood idly with nobody in line for free tests. One worker said that in almost three hours, they had conducted only about 70 tests, a far cry from the over 200 they would give per session in the summer. Likewise, at the Woodbridge Senior Center on Friday afternoon only about 70 tests were conducted.

Alison Ansher, director of the Prince William Health District, said the district has tried to direct its free testing toward the most vulnerable people, such as those in congregate settings and those living in the hardest-hit areas, namely Manassas and Manassas Park. The two cities contain the second, fourth and eighth highest numbers of cases per 100,000 population in Northern Virginia.

After a slow start, contact tracing in the state has ramped up significantly from just a few months ago, Ansher said. But while the health district had set a goal to hire 145 tracers, it has experienced high turnover among tracers and currently has just over 100.

If a big fall surge does occur, it could be a heavy lift for tracers trying to contain outbreaks in real time.

“Initially we had a lot of help from school nurses, and they’re going back to school,” Ansher said. “And I think some people all over the state signed on because, whether their job was not functioning and then went back to work, or because they were in college or graduate school and went back to school. So it’s sort of been an ongoing hiring. But I think we’re at a point where we’re stable.”

Ansher also said tracing efforts can be more efficient than they were earlier in the pandemic. It’s now known that a large percentage of cases are attached to “super-spreader events,” in which someone infects a big group of people at a gathering who then go on to spread the disease in their communities.

“When you look at what happened in the White House, we’d be better to address those super-spreader events more heavily, as opposed to each individual case. It would give us a bigger bang for the buck so to speak,” she said, referring to the Rose Garden event in late September at which President Donald Trump announced the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

The updated U.Va. model, released Oct. 16, predicts that cases statewide will peak the week ending Nov. 22, just before Thanksgiving. The previous statewide weekly peak occurred during the first week of August, although Northern Virginia’s numbers peaked in late May.

“This upward trend coincides with national trends, and trends in Europe,” the report states. “While too early to be certain, this may suggest that concerns regarding the onset of cold weather were founded.”

Dr. Lillian Peake, Virginia’s state epidemiologist, told the Virginia Mercury that it’s too soon to tell whether the recent uptick is part of a bigger trend.

“It’s premature to say now things are increasing,” she added. “We really have had quite a bit of increase over the summer. And that’s been generally going down. Now we are seeing a little bit of increase, but it’s small and we need to see what happens with that.”

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

Reporter

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(12) comments

Hawkeye10

All of this is getting old fast...In Naples, Italy, a second major lock-down was implemented and the people took to the streets in widespread protest. As they should. They have protested in Israel for their draconian efforts to lock people down, all in the name of power, control, and submission to the State, their false God.

What do we get? Paid instigators and profiteers to march in the streets saying we have "systemic race plague" in the very same cities these backwards leftists marxists built on our dime.

But dont worry, they'll conjure the flu as an all out threat and demand vaccinations be performed, another all out scam and disgusting eugenics protocol tactic. People will live in fear, children will become fearful, this provides civil unrest at the massive levels, Trump will win, and it will create tremendous fear and backlash all because Hollywood will take to their Social Media platforms and call for an arrest of our President. All because people decided they wanted to follow and listen to the state instead of fight for truth. They rather be told what to do, how to think, how to act what to wear and what to do. They rather be told White people are the scum of the earth and continue to constantly divide and race bait us until things get so out of control, theres no turning back.

The Governor wasnt the one in the blackface, he was in the Klan outfit. All you have to do is look at the smile and the posture...its very obvious. And he doesnt care about our health either, if these sickos cared, they would "abort" the entire system of western medicine. But they much rather abort innocent lives, because they have profiteered from that as well. Not saying an individual can or cant choose, im just stating how it works. So by all means, receive your contaminated vaccines all in the name of Eugenics, which they fill in with the word Science. News flash, its THEIR Science. Its THEIR definition of Science. Is the old dismissed photo with Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates Sr, Ted Turner, George Soros not enough?! Or are my non Artificial Intelligent eyes lying to me!

Mark Kelly's campaign is now denying it was him dressed up as Hitler. So we got Arizona in trouble, we got Cunning Cal Cunningham the cheat in trouble in North Carolina, we got profiteer tyrannical foreign asset creepy loser Joe the lost Soul in trouble, now were just waiting on the Epstein/Maxwell facts to come out, which should take down a good chunk of these low-lives if the trail is fair and just for the victims.

Make American Think Again.

covid2021

I had no idea there were protests in Italy over another lockdown. All I hear from the media is Trump bashing and America hating. Same with Youtube ads and don't even glance at Reddit. A place frequented by young squishy minds filled with America hating Europeans.

It's clear Ralph was in the clan hood. The joker said to use facial recognition on the image. What a joke. If it was a republican he would have been gone. BLM would have been protesting, no doubt. Do democrats really not see the double standard?

A prominent democrat said covid is "God's gift to the left" but has the media asked every elected democrat to denounce that statement? nope. If it was a republican, trump would have been asked to denounce it twice in each debate. The party of killing babies wants more dead Americans to push their agenda. Never waste a good tragedy or something like that.

Citizen52

If you read foreign news sources, the protests in Naples are more like riots. Their people are very tired of the restrictions.

The quote you mentioned at the end came from famous Chicago community organizer Saul Allinsky in his book “Rules for Radicals.” Never let a a crisis go to waste, more or less.

tman

What a rambling psychotic troll you are. Step away from the Fox News and Qanon feeds for a bit and interact with real people.

Trump mocked disabled people, among 1000 other stupid, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic acts in office, and delivered none of what he promised. None. He is a 6 times bankrupt loser, and he will lose again in 2 weeks. I would vote for a sane republican, but anyone still supporting Trump isn't worth my time.

Hawkeye10

Thanks for coming out this morning,

In other news....

https://nationalfile.com/exclusive-source-biden-daughters-diary-details-not-appropriate-showers-with-joe-as-child/

tman

Yawn. Another fake news attempted October surprise along with the blind shop owner's Hunter laptop.

Child abuse is a real problem, as is child trafficking. Projecting Qanon save the kiddies issues is transparent and sad.

Hawkeye10

Id love to hear what Republican youd prefer....please name more than one![lol]

Hawkeye10

Fake news? So the diary is fake also? You keep mentioning Qanon, a PsyOp, if that term is a part of your vocabulary....Qanon itself, is a PsyOp.

Creepy-Joe will certainly not win this election, but its very possible him and his puppet-thugs steal it! They've already coerced and influenced it.

Stay tuned.

Hawkeye10

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/trump-administration-committed-combating-human-trafficking-protecting-innocent/

Here you are, since your so passionate about combating this issue, your President and his Administration is doing it for you.

Citizen52

There have been many super spreader events in this country, not just the Rose Garden. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to get a handle on this virus as many Americans are too independent and/or too self-centered to care about minding common-sense rules.

Hawkeye10

I am of the opinion that there is no way an "Asymptomatic carrier" based on a poorly-regulated and specified rapid PCR test for SARS-CoV-2, that someone who is Asymptomatic should have to comply with any mandate or regulation what-so-ever, period. Thats asinine. These individuals should not have to Quarantine. Also, if someone is indeed exhibiting symptoms from the Virus, of course it is best for them to rest and stay home, but I still wouldnt go so far as to say be Quarantined, unless if there are certain circumstances with other family members where they could potentially fall deathly ill. Im not so sure its about minding "common-sense" rules Citizen52, because yes indeed they are easy to follow, but to what extent and for how long? Again, never in the history of mankind have you Quarantined the well. 95% of people carry the Epstein-Barr virus.

Im forecasting a major meltdown in part by our CDC come influenza season (Notice its called Disease and Control). As a matter of fact, the CDC has in their laboratory, all locked up in their possession and control, the RNA of the 1918 virus. Id be more concerned about that. As you may already know, the CDC isnt too far from Ted Turner's erected Georgia Guidestones as well.

Im prepared for any and all ad hominem attacks! (Not you specifically Citizen52) Im masked up, I marinaded myself in hand-sanitizer for 24 hours,I injected myself with clorox because Trump says so obviously, I took an entire bottle of Vitamin D while exposing myself to the sunlight at the Equator. Im barely alive, but im not gonna catch SARs-CoV-2 because of my actions! If I am rushed to the hospital, I will make sure in my last will and testimony to say I died from the governments recommendations, and not from COVID-19, I will not die a statistic on their books!

Make America Think Again.

Stoptheinsanity

I had covid on my balls back in January.

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