The Centers for Disease Control reclassified Charlottesville City and Albemarle County’s COVID-19 community level from “high” to “medium” Thursday. The CDC uses three metrics to measure the community levels — new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, total cases per 100,0-00 residents, both measured weekly, and the percentage of inpatient hospital occupant beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
In Charlottesville and Albemarle, COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents over the last seven days have fallen below 200, low enough for the change in classification per the CDC.
While individuals in communities classified as “high” are advised to wear a mask indoors and in public — regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 — those in “medium” COVID-19 level communities do not have to follow these guidelines.
At the community level, officials in “high” level areas are also encouraged to implement “prevention strategies” based on local factors, such as ensuring proper healthcare support for surges in cases if needed.
In total, there have been 10,067 cases of COVID-19 in Charlottesville since the Blue Ridge Health District began recording data in March 2020. Of those cases, 192 have resulted in hospitalizations and 77 have been fatal.
Dr. Costi Sifri, U.Va. Health director of hospital epidemiology, said during a press briefing Friday that COVID-19 caseloads are decreasing and the impacts of COVID-19 on the hospital are lessening. According to Costi, this is reflective of sentiments within the Charlottesville community that the virus’ footprint is receding.
Cases in the University community peaked Jan. 11 this semester, when the seven-day average was 74.43 new cases per day. As of March 3 — the Thursday before spring break — there was an average of 9.14 new cases reported per day, per the University’s COVID-19 tracker. The seven-day average positivity rate was 4.05 percent, while the number of active cases was 132 as of the same day.
Following spring break, the average number of new cases dropped to 2.29 on March 15. The seven-day average positivity rate also declined to 3.25 percent, and the number of active cases dropped to 19.
University administrators announced Feb. 22 that they will lift the indoor masking requirement on March 21 for University-owned spaces — including office buildings, IM-Rec facilities and venues. The mandate will remain in place in classrooms, U.Va. Health facilities and University Transit Services.