The Loudoun County Health Department is tracking at least three outbreaks of COVID-19 resulting from Halloween parties put on by kids, said Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend.
Goodfriend told county supervisors on Nov. 17 that those were among a number of outbreaks in Loudoun over the past several weeks that were preventable.
COVID-19 cases in Loudoun continue to climb, with the Health Department reporting the latest seven-day rolling average of new cases as 65.7 new cases a day as of Nov. 18. While cases are climbing, they have not reached the peak of new infections Loudoun saw at the end of May, when there were more than 100 new cases a day.
That puts Loudoun in a better place than the state at large, which has already far exceeded the first surge of COVID-19 cases and is setting new records for the virus’s spread, with an average of 1,761 new cases a day across Virginia.
Loudoun so far is also more fortunate than some other areas of the country; in some areas, some hospitals are already nearing capacity. That has meant hospitals in the DC region are absorbing patients from other areas; HCA StoneSprings Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Amy Paratore said that hospital has been getting patients transferred in from southwest Virginia, Spotsylvania, and West Virginia.
So far Loudoun’s healthcare systems are not yet stressed, Goodfriend said, but he warned winter weather—and its accompanying surge in respiratory diseases of all types—is not yet here.
“Right now, we’re a relief valve for some of the other areas that don’t have capacity,” Goodfriend said. “As opposed to what was going on earlier in the year, this is a national problem right now, so as we get over overwhelmed, there really aren’t many places to offload cases to out of the National Capital Region.”
He said the best thing to do now is try to keep COVID cases as low as possible, away from people who are most likely to be hospitalized with it.
“As opposed to April, May and June, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Goodfriend said. “That’s vaccination. But there’s going to be unfortunately, significant darkness before we get to that light, and we really need everyone to participate in these next couple months.”
But one bright spot, Goodfriend said: Currently health officials are not aware of anyone who contracted COVID-19 by voting in November. He commended Loudoun’s elections officers, who worked together with his office to make the election as safe and smooth as possible.
“This is the time when folks really need to take those steps, as was mentioned by the hospitals, of keeping your distance, wearing your mask, and if you’re at all feeling sick, stay home and get a test,” Goodfriend said. “[…]Let’s learn from Halloween. If we don’t have to travel at Thanksgiving, let’s not, and let’s not put on parties.”