For the second time this week, Loudoun’s COVID-19 testing site at the Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park in Leesburg closed early after reaching capacity, county officials wrote in a Thursday statement. Testing was closed to new arrivals at 11:30 a.m., and concluded for the day at approximately 3:35 p.m., after a total of 2,223 people were tested, according to a county spokesperson.
The county announced later Thursday that the scheduled start time for its twice-per-week testing events will be moved up one hour, to 9 a.m., in order to provide residents with more options for testing.
The first two events scheduled for January, on Tuesday, Jan. 4 and Friday, Jan. 7, will again be held at Bolen park in Leesburg. The testing site will close once testing capacity is reached. County officials said they will announce the location of testing events on week-to-week basis based on demand.
Further information on the county’s upcoming testing events as well as registration forms that are required to get tested for COVID-19 are available at loudoun.gov/covid19testing.
Thursday’s event was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and run through 1 p.m., according to a statement issued by the county on Tuesday. The Bolen Park site was instead opened at 7:45 a.m. Thursday to prevent traffic buildup on nearby Sycolin Road, Loudoun County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend wrote in an email to the Times-Mirror on Thursday afternoon.
“Although access closes when we’ve reached physical capacity, the event is actually not completed until all those in line when physical capacity has been reached have completed their testing,” he added. “Those in line at the time of the ‘closure’ will be waiting several hours while we complete testing by the end of the afternoon. The outdoor event needs to be completed in daylight.”
County officials will have a final tally on the number of people tested at Thursday’s event at 5 p.m., Goodfriend said. Some 3,000 COVID-19 tests were allocated for Thursday, based on physical and time constraints.
“We are continuing to look at testing options in addition to the current large scale testing events and hope to have them in place later in January,” he said. “This may include smaller scale testing events by appointment and distribution of home testing kits.”
County officials would be publishing further information on Loudoun’s next testing event later on Thursday afternoon, according to Goodfriend.
More than 2,000 individuals were tested at the county’s testing event on Tuesday, Goodfriend wrote. A spokesperson for the county wrote that by the time the testing site closed to new arrivals at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, there were approximately 1,000 cars in line waiting to be tested.
The testing limitations follow several days of record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 infections being reported in Loudoun. There were 605 new cases reported in the county on Christmas Eve — then a record high — a record which was broken days later, when 671 new cases reported Wednesday, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. There were 641 new cases reported Thursday.
Loudoun’s 7-day rolling average of new daily cases per 100,000 residents continued trending upward, increasing from 84.9 cases on Dec. 24, to 122.7 cases on Thursday, VDH data show.
LCPS to resume in-person learning with COVID-19 mitigation measures after winter break
Loudoun County Public Schools will resume in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 3, while continuing to observe COVID-19 mitigation strategies including universal masking and physical distancing, administrators wrote in a Thursday press release.
“LCPS is committed to in-person learning. There are no plans to extend winter break or switch to online instruction,” school officials wrote. “We make decisions related to virtual learning primarily on classroom and school data. This data can change rapidly and families must be prepared in the event that their child’s class or school moves temporarily to virtual learning.”
Despite the uncertainty in transmissibility brought on by the delta and omicron COVID-19 variants, LCPS said it would remain committed to providing a safe learning and work environment by observing established mitigation strategies against the virus.
The school division would continue to follow its guidelines for returning to school or work after either contracting COVID-19, or being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, administrators said. According to its current protocols, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for 10 days and are barred from participating in any activity at an LCPS facility for that duration.
If internal contact tracing determines someone to be a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus, LCPS guidelines require that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals quarantine for seven days upon providing a negative COVID-19 test on or after the fifth day following exposure. Otherwise, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals may return to school on the 11th day after contact, if they remain symptom-free.
Fully vaccinated individuals or those who have contracted COVID-19 within the past three months prior to being determined as a close contact are not required to quarantine, according to current guidelines. Those who develop COVID-19 symptoms despite being fully vaccinated or having contracted the virus within the past three months are required to begin 10 days of isolation, and may return to school or work on the 11th day, if free of symptoms.
If data on infections prove favorable over time, LCPS administrators said they may adopt new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reducing the number of quarantine and isolation days from 10 to five, but not before Jan. 17.
School officials encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for members of the school community aged five or older, as well as booster shots for those aged 16 or older. LCPS is offering several walk-in vaccination events in coordination with the Loudoun County Health Department and Giant Pharmacy.
First and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available at these events for individuals aged 5 or older, as well as Pfizer boosters for those aged 16 or older.
LCPS administrators said they are monitoring the Virginia Department of Health’s test-to-stay pilot program, which would allow students found to be close contacts of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to remain in classrooms if they test negative.
The school division will implement the program if it proves to be effective, but not before Jan. 17, school officials said.
LCPS students, staff and their families are encouraged to observe COVID-19 mitigation protocols — such as masking, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and isolating when sick — when participating in out-of-school activities including travel, sports and social gatherings.
“We ask families to help ensure a healthy, safe return to learn by being vigilant beyond the school environment and taking precautions that protect against the transmission of COVID,” school officials said.