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Alexandria’s Week in Coronavirus
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Alexandria’s Week in Coronavirus

COVID-19 Cases. Sources: Virginia Department of Health http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/ Maryland: Maryland Department of Health https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/ Alexandria Source: City of Alexandria.

COVID-19 Cases. Sources: Virginia Department of Health http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/ Maryland: Maryland Department of Health https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/ Alexandria Source: City of Alexandria. Graphics by Laurence Foong/Compiled by Ken Moore

Monday, May 25

Alexandria Cases: 1,754

Virginia Cases: 37,727

United States Cases: 1,622,114

Alexandria Deaths: 38

Virginia Deaths: 1,208

United States Deaths: 97,049

OPENING NOW: Northern Virginia will open into Phase 1 on Thursday, May 28.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, and the mayors and chairman of towns, cities and counties of Northern Virginia, wrote Gov. Ralph Northam on Memorial Day.

“We have enclosed the updated May 24th assessment by the five public health directors. They have noted the regional attainment of four of the critical metrics and assessed the need for continued focus on expanding our contact tracing capacity and developing sustainable supplies of PPE. We appreciate the increased testing capacity the Commonwealth has provided for our region and realize that your assistance with testing and tracing in the future will be important to assist us as we move into subsequent phases.

Each of our jurisdictions have been making preparations to support a transition into Phase 1 at midnight on May 28th. We do have two requests for your consideration:

1) As you have stated, we believe there is value for the Commonwealth moving forward together. If the data supports it, we would like the Northern Virginia region to move to Phase 2 in concert with the rest of the Commonwealth when that date is established.

2) The “Stay-at-Home” phase has been especially hard on Virginians with Mental Health Diagnoses, particularly veterans. We ask that you establish distinct, accelerated availability of those services immediately for this group.”

The letter was signed by Libby Garvey, Chair, Arlington County Board of Supervisors; Jeff McKay, Chair, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; Phyllis J. Randall, Chair, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors; Ann B. Wheeler, Chair, Prince William County Board of Supervisors; Justin Wilson, Mayor, Alexandria City Council; David L. Meyer, Mayor, City of Fairfax; Derrick Wood, Mayor, Town of Dumfries; Lisa Merkel, Mayor, Town of Herndon; Bridge Littleton, Mayor, Town of Middleburg; and Laurie A. DiRocco, Mayor, Town of Vienna.

TESTING EVENTS: The Alexandria Health Department and the City of Alexandria supported two free COVID-19 community testing events May 25 at Landmark Mall and Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. Approximately 3,000 drive-through and walk-up participants were tested and will receive results once they are available. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will receive specific guidance from the health department about how to protect themselves and others. The primary purpose was for community members who have not previously been able to access testing. These testing sites did not require doctor referrals, appointments, or identification. Spanish, Arabic, and Amharic translators were available. The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management help fund the effort with significant in-kind support from Alexandria Health Department and the City.

GRADUATION: T.C. Williams graduate Noah Lyles, the U.S. fastest man over 200 meters, will be the keynote speaker at T.C. Williams graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 13. The virtual ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m., the date and time originally scheduled for the senior class graduation. This ceremony will be featured on ACPS TV Channel 71, Facebook Live and on the school’s website through https://www.acps.k12.va.us/

Invited Speakers also include 2020 class president Amiya Chrisolm, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Principal Peter Balas and Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr.

According to Team USA website, Lyles was the 2018 USATF Jesse Owens Best Male Athlete of the Year Award recipient; has a passion for music, art, video games, comics, anime and fashion; released a song with pole vaulter Sandi Morris and performed at the Zurich Diamond League, released his first album, “A Humans Journey;” as well as receiving gold medals for his sprinting, including become the youngest 200-meter world champion ever and the first winner from the U.S. since Tyson Gay in 2007. He also anchored the men’s victorious 4x100-meter squad that posted the second fastest time ever.

One song on this year’s album is called “Walk to Heaven.” When asked, Why not run?, Lyles said, “Because the journey to heaven is not a sprint.”

Sunday, May 24

Alexandria Cases: 1,733

Virginia Cases: 36,244

Alexandria Deaths: 38

Virginia Deaths: 1,171

Saturday, May 23

Alexandria Cases: 1,703

Virginia Cases: 35,749

Alexandria Deaths: 38

Virginia Deaths: 1,159

ALEXANDRIA PROMISE: The Alexandria Health Department, in partnership with Visit Alexandria and local restaurant and business associations, has launched the ALX Promise program to help businesses safely reopen as Northern Virginia approaches Phase One of the Forward Virginia blueprint. The program is designed to train and support businesses as they begin to reopen and expand operations. ALX Promise is a voluntary measure to encourage businesses to adopt COVID-19 safety standards for employees and customers that exceed the minimum rules required by law.

Each business that takes part in the ALX Promise program will:

  • Participate in training with an Alexandria Health Department Environmental Health Specialist on state requirements to reopen.
  • Train all employees on the safety measures needed for safe reopening.
  • Submit a completed checklist, training record and pledge commitment to ensure the safety of employees and customers.
  • Agree to follow all future applicable health guidance as Northern Virginia enters new phases of reopening.

Businesses that successfully complete the program will be awarded the ALX Promise Shield to display on their windows and websites, to show customers they are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment and using the highest safety standards. Visit Alexandria will also post a roster of participating businesses online.

DASH EXPANDED: DASH will begin an expanded schedule, including additional service on key routes to allow passengers to maintain adequate physical distancing on buses. DASH will continue to operate its largest buses, block some seats, use rear boarding to minimize crowding at fareboxes and exposure to bus operators, and clean and disinfect buses daily. Passengers are still required to wear face coverings until further notice. Most routes follow the regular DASH Saturday timetable, with some exceptions. The King Street Trolley remains suspended until further notice.

PUBLIC POOLS, NOT YET: All public and private pools in Northern Virginia remain closed under Phase Zero of the Forward Virginia blueprint. Once the region transitions to Phase One, outdoor pools will be permitted to open only for lap swimming, with one swimmer per lane and no gatherings of 10 or more on the deck. Additional information about the timing of Phase One and the operations of City pools is expected in the next week.

Friday, May 22

Alexandria Cases: 1,657

Virginia Cases: 34,950

Alexandria Deaths: 37

Virginia Deaths: 1,136

HELPING BUSINESSES: To help Alexandria businesses prepare to reopen once state restrictions are eased, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP) and the City will conduct a series of webinars to share valuable information with business managers and owners. Guidance and regulations to be covered include those from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, and the City of Alexandria. Separate webinars will focus on information for businesses in the fitness, restaurant and food service, personal care, and brick and mortar retail sectors.

WIDENING SIDEWALK, STAY DISTANCED: The City temporarily widened the sidewalk on the south side of the unit, 100 and 200 blocks of King Street, to allow more room for pedestrians to stay at least 6 feet apart while walking. This change will be in effect until Tuesday, May 26. The sidewalk widening is not a street closure or pedestrian plaza, and is not intended to encourage pedestrians to visit the area or to congregate. Additional signage outdoors and in businesses will remind the public to maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet, wear cloth face coverings, and wash hands regularly. Although restaurants are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout or delivery, these beverages are intended for responsible home consumption and may not be consumed in public places. The Alexandria Police Department will have increased presence on lower King Street and along the Waterfront to help maintain compliance with the law.

SELF CHECK: COVIDCheck, a new online risk-assessment tool for Virginians to check their symptoms and connect with health care resources, is available. COVIDCheck can help individuals displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19 self-assess their risk and determine the best next steps, such as self-isolation, seeing a doctor, or seeking emergency care. See https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/

SNAP ONLINE: More than 740,000 Virginians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will be able to pay for their groceries online and have them delivered, after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Virginia to participate in an innovative online purchasing pilot program. The program will launch statewide in Virginia on Friday, May 29 with online shopping access available through Amazon and Walmart online.

FLAGS LOWERED: Flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia were flown at half-staff over the state Capitol and all local, state and federal buildings and grounds in the Commonwealth of Virginia to honor the victims of the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic.

NICKEL AND DIMING: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced legislation to ensure that all National Guard troops activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic receive full benefits. “While the Trump Administration gave an extension, it cynically chose a peculiar date that was later revealed to result in a hard deployment stop at 89 days for thousands of National Guard members – one day short of the 90-day threshold to receive additional federal benefits, like access to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits,” according to Warner.

Thursday, May 21

Alexandria Cases: 1,627

Virginia Cases: 34,137

Alexandria Deaths: 37

Virginia Deaths: 1,099

THE CUMULATIVE number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 1,627, including 37 fatalities.

EMERGENCY RENT PAYMENTS: The City is providing short-term emergency rental assistance to help Alexandria renters experiencing housing insecurity due to COVID-19 related loss of income. A total of $600 per month for up to three months may be paid directly to property owners on behalf of eligible tenants. Financial assistance will be provided regardless of citizenship status. Visit the COVID-19 Emergency Rent Relief Assistance Program webpage to learn more or apply.

40 PERCENT HURTING: U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced the Paycheck Security Act to cover the wages and benefits of employees of affected businesses and non-profits until the economic and public health crisis is resolved.

“Right now nearly 39 million Americans are out of work due to the coronavirus. This is hitting working class folks particularly hard, with 40 percent of all workers making under $40,000 out of work right now,” said Warner.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, nearly 39 million workers have filed for unemployment. More than 20 million people lost their jobs in the month of April alone, the most in a single month on record. An estimated 27 million people have already lost their employer-provided health insurance coverage, and millions more could lose coverage before this crisis is over. The unemployment rate is likely close to 20 percent, and could exceed the depths of the Great Depression in the coming months.

The pandemic has also devastated small businesses and sole proprietors. A recent study found that more than 100,000 small businesses have already closed permanently as a result of the health and economic crisis.

REGIONAL TEAMWORK: Connected DMV is a non-profit regional collaboration across Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia--the DMV. Its participants include local jurisdictions, federal agencies, industry, community, and academia who work together to advance the region's opportunities, generate economic development, and shape a stronger future for the well-being of our region. TTask Force will stand up a sub-group dedicated to developing a detailed regional contact tracing position and recommendation. The group also discussed the need for a responsible reopening of public transportation that gradually and safely restores bus and rail service ahead of demand. The Task Force will continue to meet monthly through October with meetings facilitated by Greater Washington Board of Trade President and CEO Jack McDougle. See https://www.connecteddmv.org/strategic-renewal-task-force

Wednesday, May 20

Alexandria Cases: 1,577

Virginia Cases: 32,908

Alexandria Deaths: 34

Virginia Deaths: 1,074

WORKPLACE FATIGUE: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided general strategies workers and employers can use to manage workplace fatigue. Workers providing essential services to the community, including emergency responders and health care workers, are working longer hours than usual, working more shifts or even overnight, and leaving less time to sleep and recharge. Long work hours and shift work, combined with stressful or physically demanding work, can lead to poor sleep, extreme fatigue, and increased risk for injury and deteriorating health (infections, illnesses, and mental health disorders). The CDC page also includes training information from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health for emergency responders and nurses.

UNTOLD SUFFERING: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, made a statement on Republican opposition to extending further assistance amid the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:

“This economic collapse is an emergency. Tens of millions of Americans – one in five workers – just lost their jobs, and government aid is the only thing preventing many from losing their homes or starving. Yet, Republicans want to shut off unemployment benefits, force states to make further, disastrous cuts to crucial services, and sharply reduce access to food programs like SNAP. …Removing that support while eliminating access to food, shelter, and health care would inflict untold suffering and could cause widespread civic unrest.”

SNAP CARRYOUT: U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine cosponsored legislation to increase the ability for Americans struggling with food insecurity to receive restaurant meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the COVID-19 Anti-Hunger Restaurant Relief for You Act of 2020 — or the SNAP CARRY Act — would expand eligibility for the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) and would make it easier for states and restaurants to participate in the program during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, May 19

Alexandria Cases: 1,544

Virginia Cases: 32,145

Alexandria Deaths: 34

Virginia Deaths: 1,041

COVID IN CHILDREN: Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children is a rare but serious inflammatory condition that affects the heart and other organs in children and could be linked to COVID, according to the Alexandria Health Department. Symptoms in children include fever lasting several days along with irritability or sluggishness, abdominal pain with no explanation, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, red or pink eyes, enlarged lymph node on one side of the neck, red cracked lips or red tongue that looks like a strawberry, or swollen hands or feet that might also be red.

Call your doctor immediately if your child becomes ill and has a continued fever. If your child is severely ill, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.

CHEF JOSE ANDRES: World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit food distribution organization founded by chef José Andrés distributed 1,250 hot meals to 350 families in the third food distribution organized in Alexandria with help from city workers and volunteers. Local nonprofit ALIVE! also distributed 4,800 pounds of food at the event. This food distribution took place again at Casa Chirilagua on May 21 and will provide food at Ramsay Elementary School on May 28. See City’s Food Assistance webpage.

TWO BILLS PASSED: Gov. Ralph Northam signed two bills approved by the General Assembly during the reconvened session on April 22 that included his proposed amendments to provide relief to tenants and mortgage holders.

Capping late fees on rent. House Bill 1420 caps late fees at 10 percent of the periodic rent or 10 percent of the remaining balance due, whichever is lesser. This new law will help prevent cascading late fees, allow charges only on the amount due, and set a maximum late fee percentage for the first time in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Protecting tenants from eviction during emergencies, House Bill 340 delays rental evictions or mortgage foreclosures for individuals who are not currently covered under the protections offered through the federal CARES Act or state and local protections.

METRO: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will receive $876,806,108 in federal transit funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD). “With overall ridership down significantly, we need to make sure that WMATA has the resources it needs to purchase personal protective equipment to protect WMATA’s workforce, as well as maintain safety and reliability, especially for essential workers who continue to depend on Metro every day.” Through Sept 7, there is no Silver Line train service due to major summer construction; buses replace trains between Ballston & Wiehle-Reston due to major summer construction. E Falls Church, McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill & Wiehle, Vienna, Dunn Loring, are closed. Face coverings/masks are required in all Metrorail stations, aboard trains and on buses.

For more info, visit: https://www.wmata.com/

INJURED HEROES: U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senators Tammy Duckworth, Richard Blumenthal, Ed Markey, and Kirsten Gillibrand to introduce a bill that would create a new fund to provide compensation for injuries to any individual, or their families, who are deemed an essential worker and required to leave their home to perform services and who have become ill or died as a result of COVID-19. The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act is modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).

ICE CONDITIONS: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) joined Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and 24 Senators announcing that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) will conduct a review of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in its facilities. Following reports that ICE detention facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were operating without processes to protect both staff and detainees such as providing protective gear, ensuring detainees have access to hygiene products, and practicing social distancing, Udall led a group of 26 Democratic senators in calling for the DHS IG to conduct a full assessment of ICE detention facilities nationwide to evaluate whether the facilities’ operations, management, standards, and conditions have adapted to address the threat of COVID-19 to both the staff and detainees.