COVID-19 Level of Community Transmission

The most important public health action to end the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing vaccination coverage, which saves lives, prevents illness, and reduces the spread of the virus. Until vaccination coverage is high and community transmission of COVID-19 is low, together with public health officials, local decision makers and schools, businesses, and institutions (organizations) need to regularly assess the need for layered prevention strategies.

When determining community-level or school prevention strategies, understanding the level of disease transmission in the community is a critical first step.  Read more here.

The Virginia Department of Health and federal government provided COVID-19 testing to those arriving from Afghanistan in August and September of 2021. Between August 17, 2021 - September 10, 2021, all COVID-19 test results (both positive and negative) from this effort were reported in Loudoun County. An increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and test results reported in Loudoun County impacted the percent positivity for that time period.

To determine the level of community transmission, CDC and VDH recommend the use of two measures: total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days and the percentage of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) including RT-PCR COVID-19 tests that are positive during the last 7 days. If the two indicators have different levels, actions corresponding to the higher threshold should be chosen. The community transmission level for any given location will change over time and should be reassessed weekly for situational awareness and to continuously inform planning.

The Level of Community Transmission dashboard provides locality, region, and state data. It also provides locality level trends for the individual metrics of case incidence and PCR test positivity. Local decision makers, working with local public health officials, should also review local vaccination coverage, testing capacity, health system capacity, and understand populations in their community that are at risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. Decisions regarding whether to strengthen or add layered prevention strategies should be driven not only by the goal of effective disease control, but also to protect those persons at greatest risk for severe illness or death.

For decisions related to K-12 schools, the level of impact within a school should also be considered. See Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools (PDF) (16 pp, 505KB) for additional information.

VDH provides Interim Community Mitigation Framework (PDF) (5 pp, 111KB, Last Updated 08/18/2021), which offers guidance on the implementation of layered prevention strategies in communities.

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