Alexandria Health Department Identifies Commonly Reported Potential Sources of Local COVID-19 Exposure

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Alexandria Health Department Identifies Commonly Reported Potential Sources of Local COVID-19 Exposure

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2020

Between September 21 and October 19, Alexandria Health Department (AHD) case investigators interviewed 422 residents diagnosed with COVID-19. Case investigators asked people to recall their activities during the two weeks before they felt sick, to identify potential sources of COVID-19 exposure. Individuals could have identified more than one possible source of infection. The results of these interviews mirror other local analysis and research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggest that household contacts, indoor gatherings, and restaurant dining are common sources of COVID-19 transmission. 

AHD analyzed the interviews and found that the following activities were most commonly reported among people with recent COVID-19 diagnoses:

  • 44% lived with someone who recently had COVID-19. 

  • 25% went to their workplace. 

  • 10% went to a public event, social gathering, or entertainment activity, with most gatherings occurring indoors. 

  • 7% travelled outside of the Alexandria/D.C. area, with most travel in the U.S.

  • 7% went to a restaurant or bar, with two-thirds eating indoors and one-third eating outdoors.

The activities an individual participant reported may or may not have been the sources of COVID-19 exposure for that individual; however, they do demonstrate trends and suggest common links for people who become ill. 

Chart of Potential Local COVID-19 Exposure Sources

Based on this exposure analysis, AHD recommends the following precautions to lower the risk of activities commonly reported by people diagnosed with COVID-19. 

  • Protect coworkers by not entering workplaces when ill or recently in close contact with someone with COVID-19. 

  • If someone in your household is ill, immediately take precautions such as wearing masks when in common areas, avoiding shared utensils, and staying 6 feet apart. 

  • Limit indoor social gatherings, and choose lower risk activities for holiday celebrations. 

  • Avoid travel as much as possible, particularly to areas of the U.S. experiencing surges of cases. For necessary travel, follow CDC’s guidance to lower risk of COVID-19. 

  • Maintain mask usage as much as possible, including while waiting to order or receive food at restaurants.

  • Support businesses that have completed the ALX Promise voluntary accreditation program, since these entities have taken additional training with AHD and have pledged to go above and beyond minimum state safety standards for employees and customers. 

Visit for more information about how COVID-19 is impacting Alexandria, health resources and AHD’s response to the pandemic. 

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This news release is available at

Note: This news release was edited on October 27, 2020, to correct the percentage of interviewees who reported living with someone who recently had COVID-19.