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A drive-through for donated COVID-19 supplies in Arlington County, VA. Photo credit: Arlington County / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Despite Virginia moving forward with a new vaccination phase, Arlington county, burdened by inefficiencies, is still working through the previous one.

Arlington, VA, has fallen behind surrounding counties in efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to each resident. Statewide, 21.3 percent of Virginia’s population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. Locally, Fairfax boasts the most doses administered per 100,000 residents at 18,082. Alexandria follows with 17,666, Arlington with 16,609, and Prince William County with 14,176.

Because each county is managing its own vaccine distribution efforts, Arlington County found itself hindered by technological issues and a lack of centralized coordination. The lack of preparedness shows; as some Virginia counties move on to Phase 1c of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, northern counties, such as Arlington and Fairfax, are still stuck in Phase 1b, which began January 11, 2021. 

Those who are eligible and waiting to be vaccinated in Arlington include residents 65 years of age and older, as well as frontline essential workers, medical professionals, and first responders. Residents of the county who are eligible to be vaccinated under Phase 1c, including those 64 and younger, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and other frontline workers, can now preregister. 

On a daily basis, Arlington County has seen a steady decrease in new COVID-19 cases, a trend reflected in other states across the US. To date, the Commonwealth’s Department of Health reports a total of 13,770 confirmed cases and 243 coronavirus-related deaths in Arlington County, adding to the 7,012 deaths reported statewide.

In order to stop the spread of the virus, Arlington County remains under a ‘Stay-At-Home’ order. Nonessential employees are encouraged to work from home, social gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, and brick-and-mortar businesses face varying capacity requirements based on their industry. 

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) requested that after a year of fully online classes, all public schools offer some form of in-person learning as of March 15. As part of this action, every district is allowed to decide the extent of its reopening. In Arlington County, students in pre-kindergarten through second grade were welcomed back to the classroom as of the first week of March, followed by grades three through six returning a week later, and all other grades having access to an in-person learning option by March 15.

Amid reopening schools, a decline in infections, and a slowed vaccination distribution plan, the end is in sight, but Arlington still has a long way to go.


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