Alexandria finds out what people did in weeks before COVID-19 diagnosis

Alexandria health officials interviewed hundreds of people in the Virginia city diagnosed with COVID-19 last month and found a number of activities linked to potential transmission of the coronavirus: living with a COVID-19-positive person, going to restaurants and social gatherings, traveling and going into the workplace.

Alexandria Health Department authorities said the city’s exposure analysis backs the guidelines that are already in place and that these results should motivate residents to continue following them amid the spike in coronavirus cases.

The city and the health department “strongly urge residents to stay home as much as possible during the current surge of COVID-19 cases in our community,” the city said in an update on its website. “Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing in Alexandria.”

In November, coronavirus case investigators asked 760 residents with COVID-19 about their activities in the two weeks prior to feeling sick.

“Twenty nine percent of responses indicated that either someone had visited their household who was positive with COVID or that a member of their own household was diagnosed recently with COVID,” said Natalie Talis, Population Health Manager with the Alexandria Health Department.

The city health department found that:

  • 29% of respondents said they lived with someone who had COVID-19.
  • 27% of respondents said they went to restaurants, public events, social gatherings or traveled outside of the D.C. region.
  • 23% of respondents said they made trips to their work places.

Health officials said these trends do not necessarily show the source of viral transmission for an individual but demonstrate what activities are commonly linked to getting COVID-19.

Talis said it’s vital to stay in a better safe than sorry position.

“If people are feeling sick at all, whatsoever, whether it’s a runny nose or a scratchy throat, stay home. Do not go into the office. Do not have that social gathering and see people,” said Talis.

Talis recommends doing what you can to avoid others in your household until your ailment passes.

She said even if you think you may have allergies or just a cold, those ailments can have similar symptoms to COVID, and while you think it’s the milder ailment, you could have the coronavirus.

Another recommendation is to get a flu shot.

“COVID shares many symptoms with the flu and the common cold. If you haven’t already, you should get the flu shot, ” she said.

The November report mirrors a similar report published by the city in October, according to the  health department.

On Monday, the city recorded its highest seven-day average of daily coronavirus cases. The average has continued to climb as of Thursday.

Health officials urged Alexandria residents to wear a mask, restrict nonessential travel and maintain social distance.

The city also encouraged people to support local businesses that have completed the ALX Promise, a voluntary accreditation program that trains workers on coronavirus safety.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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