What to consider as COVID-19 numbers rise again in Montgomery, Fairfax counties

Rising COVID-19 case numbers have bumped Montgomery County, Maryland, up into the medium category for community transmission, just like in Fairfax County, Virginia.

While hospitalizations throughout the D.C. region remain relatively low, there’s concern for people who are most vulnerable.

Individuals who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease from COVID-19 should talk to their health care provider about whether they should wear a mask or take other precautions, such as routine testing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“And, we strongly encourage anybody in those categories to wear masks when they’re in congregate settings indoors with people outside of their household,” Sean O’Donnell, public health emergency manager for Montgomery County Health and Human Services, said.

O’Donnell also advised people at high risk from COVID-19 to talk with health care providers to find out whether they’re good candidates for treatments, such as oral antivirals or the monoclonal antibodies.

“Have that conversation before you test positive, so that you already might know what your options are if you get that test and you can expedite that response,” he said.

Over the past week, there’s been an increase of nearly 20% in the number of people going to county sites for testing. But O’Donnell said there’s plenty of capacity, and there are PCR laboratory tests available to pick up, administer at home and drop off for processing. Rapid at-home antigen tests and N95 masks can be picked up at any county library.

At a briefing Monday, O’Donnell said Montgomery County COVID-19 case rates are currently 216 per 100,000. With factors also including rates of new admissions into hospitals, once the number exceeds 200, the category of community transmission goes from low to medium.

The COVID-19 community levels calculated for Fairfax County on May 5 were 210.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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