Arlington leaders are urging continued vigilance, but by their own behavior seemed to be stopping short of a panicky response, as COVID continues to ebb and flow throughout the community.
Owing to an increase in cases that are proving for the most part to be primarily annoying rather than life-threatening, Arlington several weeks ago was bumped into the “Medium” category of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-o-meter.
The positivity rate among Arlington residents in recent weeks had grown to its highest level since January, County Manager Mark Schwartz told County Board members on April 28, but that has not translated into significant increases in hospitalizations. And there are some indications that the bump upward was due in part to a lag in reporting data at the state level.
Given the relatively large rate of vaccination among county residents, there is a “greatly reduced” threat to public health, Schwartz said, although he asked residents to “exercise your personal responsibility” in determining how to address an increase in cases.
Arlington’s bump from the low-threat to the medium-threat category changes little in the way of masking requirements. That would change if the community moved into the “high” category.
By their own behavior, the county’s leadership last week seemed to be signaling there was a middle ground to be had in personal responses to COVID.
In March, when cases began again rising, County Board members largely stayed masked up at their public meetings. On April 28, however, the meeting started with Schwartz and three board members (Libby Garvey, Matt de Ferranti and chair Katie Cristol) going commando and the two others (Takis Karantonis and Christian Dorsey) masked up. By the end of the meeting some hours later, all five were mask-free.