Tysons, VA

Security at Tysons Galleria reported that a group of men tried to break into Paul Bakery at the mall, Fairfax County police say.

The incident happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. today (Wednesday).

“The suspects ran when officers arrived but were taken into custody,” according to Fairfax County police. Charges are pending for the men.

In separate incidents, several businesses in the Tysons area have been burglarized early yesterday morning: McLean Pharmacy in McLean and Lost Dog Cafe and Nouvelle Nails and Spa in Tysons.

For the two in Tysons, police said someone broke in and stole property. The pharmacy was burglarized by a group of people who escaped in multiple cars.

Mindy Hoang of the nail spa posted a photo on Facebook yesterday showing a shattered glass door.

“We were robbed last night,” according to the post. “Broke the glass on our door and [took] half of my nails equipment. I [guess] they try to save [money by] doing their own nails!”

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Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik is working to tackle a growing disparity with Hispanics and COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County.

As of today, the Hispanic population makes up 16.8% of the population in the Fairfax Health District, but 65.7% of the COVID-19 cases where race and ethnicity data is available, according to Fairfax County — a jump from 61.3% of the cases in mid-May. (Just under 20% — 2,272 — cases don’t have race and ethnicity data.)

Statewide, Latinos or Hispanics account for roughly the same number of cases as people of other ethnicities (15,257 vs. 15,500) where the data is available, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The racial disparity is not isolated to Fairfax County, though. Black Washingtonians are seeing a gap between the population and COVID-19 death numbers, DCist reported. Across the U.S., communities of color “are being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19,” NPR reported.

The Health and Human Services Committee, which Palchik chairs, held a meeting yesterday (Tuesday) to address the growing racial disparities in the county.

Benjamin Schwartz, the county’s director of epidemiology and population health, suggested that the disparities in the data may be caused by increased occupational exposure and housing situations for people of color.

Palchik said in an interview with Tysons Reporter that many essential workers are Latinx, meaning that working from home and limiting contact with people outside — and inside — the home may not be an option.

Schwartz said the Fairfax Health District has seen success with “flattening the curve” for the Asian, White and Black populations. “Whereas for Hispanic populations the growth of COVID-19 has been much greater and the increase has occurred for a longer time than we have seen in the other groups,” he said.

Schwartz noted that different racial disparities with the virus exist in Virginia — like Black populations in Richmond and poor White populations in the southwest. “This risk reflects the group’s niche in the society rather than a particular racial effect.”

For the Hispanic population, Swartz said factors that may be linked to higher invention rates include:

  • need to keep going to work
  • travel to work via public transit or shared rides
  • inability to social distance at work
  • lack of sick leave
  • unavailability of unemployment insurance
  • crowded households

Schwartz said that 92% of the people with positive tests from clinics in Annadale and Bailey’s Crossroads May 13-14 identified as Hispanic, while 81% with positive tests said Spanish is their preferred language.

Testing became a prime focus of the county supervisors’ conversation about how to address the racial gap.

“We have not in my mind had sufficient testing, particularly on the Richmond Highway corridor where we have a large Latinx population,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said.

Other supervisors urged the health department to increase testing, especially in neighborhoods. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn called testing “a critical component going forward,” noting that people with the virus are sometimes asymptomatic.

Gloria Addo-Ayensu, the director of the Fairfax County Health Department, said that the county is shifting toward smaller events and media campaigns to change the message around who should get tested. Instead of testing people based on their high-risk status or disease severity, the health department is now telling people who have any COVID-19 symptoms to get tested.

Schwartz added that the health department is working to locate and target “hot spots” for the virus with neighborhood testing.

Addo-Ayensu also said that the county’s goal to increase contact tracing will help the health department identify who to monitor, adding that not everyone will be tested because the two-14 day incubation period for the virus means people might get tested too soon.

To address myths that might delay people in seeking care, Addo-Ayensu said that the health department is working to reach out to local community groups and faith leaders as a way to provide information — work that Palchik has already started doing.

Palchik told Tysons Reporter that she’s been focused on targeted outreach to the Latinx community, like sharing messages through Telemundo; reaching out to faith leaders, small business programs and local clinics; and posting Facebook videos in Spanish about resources.

“I felt it was really important to create short 2-minute videos on different areas on how to self isolate and support for small businesses,” she said.

Karla Bruce, the county’s chief equity officer, stressed in her presentation to the county board yesterday that distrust in the government and medical systems is one of the factors that can make communities of color more vulnerable to the virus.

For Palchik, the goal is to create two-way communication instead and “not just hammer people online.”

As for the county’s announcement in early May that it would have text message alerts in Spanish, Palchik said, “It was a little frustrating it took as long as it did.”

She said she’s glad it’s now an option, adding that government bodies often move at a slower pace than current speediness required to address the virus.

As the county’s board and health department officials work on the equity issues the virus has highlighted in the county, Palchik told Tysons Reporter that she’s focused on long-term plans for housing, expanded childcare services and increased access to transportation.

“Sometimes there are invisible barriers in closing the equity gaps,” she said, noting that federal policies surrounding immigration “have put people in fear.” “How do we make sure better housing is accessible to all?”

Still, Palchik remains hopeful.

“We will get through it together,” she said.

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Tysons-based MicroTech is working to address shortages in personal protective equipment (PPP), adding a risk-free component to its delivery service.

The company teamed up with Thermal Safety Systems to revamp their Just-in-Time PPE Delivery, which provides low-cost access to PPE, medical equipment and medical technology.

The companies say it “leverages supply-chain management to sync orders to suppliers with production and delivery schedules designed to meet customer’s needs,” according to the press release.

The companies decided to redesign the delivery of raw materials and finished products.

“Under these arduous conditions, it became obvious that new strategies for optimizing Just-in-Time Delivery
needed to be implemented,” the press release said.

“Risk-free orders are another game-changing aspect of the MicroTech-Thermal Safety Systems alliance,” the press release said. “Under this partnership, the MicroTech financing department will fully fund PPE purchases, and collect on delivery.”

Just-in-Time PPE Delivery has also improved supply management and inventory, less production pressure, increased quality control price stabilization and consolidated orders that decrease manufacturing and transportation costs.

Photo via MicroTech/Facebook

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(Updated 5:40 p.m.) The Town of Vienna is giving $1 million to support Fairfax County’s new grant program to financially help town businesses.

The town announced the news today (Wednesday), saying that it’s giving some of its funds from the CARES Act to the county’s RISE grant program. The town received roughly $2.9 million in CARES Act funding at the end of April, according to the town newsletter.

“While the $1 million being provided by the Town of Vienna is designated specifically for Town businesses only, Vienna businesses also will be eligible for funding through the county grant program beyond the Town’s contribution,” according to the press release.

Natalie Monkou, the town’s economic development manager, said in the press release that the town originally thought about creating its own grant program, but decided that the county had more resources.

“Fairfax County has the infrastructure already in place to execute a grant program for businesses,” Monkou said, adding that the county will give businesses “more immediate access to grant funding.”

At least 30% of the total RISE funding will go to women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses, she added.

“When we did a business survey a few weeks ago, one of the main things we heard was that businesses need access to capital, and that can be even more true for veteran-, minority-, and women-owned businesses,” she said. “The CARES Act allows us to provide this important assistance to our small businesses.”

The county’s grant program currently has $26 million for small businesses and nonprofits, according to the press release. The grant application will be open from June 8-15.

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Baseball Blues — “Two of the three local Little Leagues in the Sun Gazette’s coverage areas canceled their 2020 spring seasons in recent days, with McLean Little League still hoping to play some type of regular season for baseball and girls softball teams in June and July.” [Inside NoVa]

Puppy Sale Fraud in Vienna — “A woman who does not live in Virginia told Vienna police on May 23 at 5:34 p.m. that she had made an online payment to purchase a puppy and was told to go to a residence in the 400 block of MacArthur Avenue, N.E., to pick up the dog.” [Inside NoVa]

Northam Outlines Phase 2 — “Most of Virginia will enter a second phase of reopening from the prolonged coronavirus shutdown on Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam said… Both Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond, which were hit harder by the novel coronavirus and began reopening last week, will remain under the more stringent Phase 1 portion of the state’s plan to return to normalcy.” [Washington Post]

Pledge to End Racial Inequalities — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam pledged Tuesday to do more to end racial inequities in the state as he reacted to the death of George Floyd and increasing protests in Northern Virginia and other regions of the state.” [Inside NoVa]

County Aiming to Get 400 New Contact Tracers — “GattiHR, a leading HR consulting firm, has been retained by the Institute for Public Health Innovation – one of the region’s leading health organizations that develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia- to recruit 400 COVID-19 Contact Tracers in Fairfax County, VA.” [GattiHR]

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Fairfax County police said that a group of people burglarized McLean Pharmacy and shattered its front glass door.

Police responded to an alarm going off at the building (1392 Chain Bridge Road) around 12:30 a.m. today (Tuesday).

“The investigation revealed a group of individuals broke into the pharmacy, stole property and drove away in multiple cars,” police said.

In a separate incident early this morning, Fairfax County police said that a 19-year-old from Vienna spray-painted graffiti on concrete walls by Leesburg Pike and Spring Hill Road.

Police said that the teenager ran when they located him, but they caught him. The teenager was charged with two counts of felony destruction of property and misdemeanor destruction of property.

File photo

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After years of pausing the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone in attempts to revamp it, the Vienna Town Council decided last night to repeal the zoning code and “start fresh.”

The Vienna Town Council held a public hearing last night on the two options for the MAC’s future: either repealing it or extending the moratorium, which has been in place since 2018, on the zoning code to June 2022.

To Repeal or Not to Repeal?

The two choices received a mixed reaction during the public hearing. Supporters for extending the MAC generally side that the zoning code has many good aspects that they don’t want to see completely scrapped, while supporters for repealing argued that town staff and consultants the town wants to hire need a clean slate.

Mary McCullough, who recently left the town’s Planning Commission, urged the Town Council to keep suspending the MAC until the code rewrite is done. “Repeal says we harmed,” she said. “That’s the message you send with repeal.”

Vienna resident Roy Baldwin said that repealing the MAC sends the message that the work from volunteers on the zoning code “is of no value.” Resident Ray Brill Jr. disagreed, saying that people’s hard work on the MAC is not enough of a reason to keep it.

“The fact that we repeal does not mean we don’t incorporate the vision and some of the things we like,” Brill added.

Cindy Petkac with the town’s planning and zoning division told the Town Council said she thought they would be “better off starting fresh.”

“I think it would be more efficient to repeal it,” Petkac said. “It is a cumbersome, confusing process in my professional opinion.”

Consultant Challenges 

The town’s plans to hire a consulting firm to help with rewriting the code also factored into the conversation last night about what to do with the MAC.

The Vienna Town Council initially paused its plans to hire a firm for $250,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baldwin, the local resident, testified that he isn’t convinced the town needs to spend money on consultants when locals with expertise “will work for free.”

Council Douglas Noble argued that bringing in a consultant is even more important now to help the town heal from the pandemic. The Town Council will consider hiring the consulting firm on June 15, Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

Close Vote

After the public hearing and some discussion among the councilmembers about the MAC, Noble proposed a motion to repeal it.

“It’s not about the MAC,” Noble said. “It’s about how do we make Make Avenue commercially economically viable?”

To quell some concerns about ditching the good parts of the MAC, Councilmember and Mayor-elect Linda Colbert offered an amendment that would make reports, studies, surveys, comments from the Planning Commission and Board of Architectural Review and more a part of the package of information the consultants would review.

A lively discussion continued on the idea to repeal, and Noble suggested — but ultimately did not — withdraw his motion, saying that he thought the councilmembers wanted to talk more.

Ultimately, the council approved Colbert’s amendment and then voted for Noble’s motion 4-3, with Noble, DiRocco and Councilmember Nisha Patel voting “no.”

“We learned over time the MAC code had flaws,” Noble told Tysons Reporter today. “I did not believe those flaws were fixable.”

Image via Town of Vienna

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Fairfax County’s top official, local police chiefs and elected officials for the City of Falls Church are stressing the importance of equity and justice as nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd continue.

A viral video captured Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

In a newsletter to constituents, Jeff McKay, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, stressed the county’s focus on equity with the One Fairfax policy, saying that he will soon announce ” a blueprint to double down on our commitments.”

“Angry and Disgusted”

McKay also addressed the recent protests in D.C. after reports on Monday of police using tear gas and rubber bullets to dispel protesters from the area around a church where President Donald Trump then posed for a photo.

“I’m angry and disgusted that today, for the third time in as many days, we saw peaceful protestors tear-gassed and shot with pellet guns as they chanted for peace and change,” McKay said.

McKay’s full statement:

To the Fairfax County Community,

Over the weekend, millions marched the streets across the United States mourning the death of George Floyd and rightfully protesting the injustices and systemic racism experienced by generations of African American men and women in this country.

I’m angry and disgusted that today, for the third time in as many days, we saw peaceful protestors tear gassed and shot with pellet guns as they chanted for peace and change. Simultaneously, COVID-19 continues to showcase and exacerbate the disparities that exist in our most vulnerable communities.

Now more than ever, we know it is the role of our local government to achieve true structural change in our communities. We in Fairfax County must honestly ask ourselves, what actions are we taking?; what voices are we lifting up?; and for me as your Chairman, are our policies affecting systemic change in our community?

We are lucky to live in Fairfax County. Our Government has a team of employees who dedicate themselves to making us better every day. Our residents are diverse and challenge us to do more. Each member of the Board of Supervisors believes that we can always improve.

It is our commitment to our diversity that created our One Fairfax policy, which makes equity a requirement and recognizes that disparity is a fact. The Board of Supervisors and School Board adopted it to ensure that it is intentionally applied to all the work we do – not just reflected on when we are in crisis.  In the coming days, I will announce a blueprint to double down on our commitments.

We have work to be done. In the days, weeks, and months ahead of us, we will continue to listen, encourage healthy dialogues, and have the courage to fight for what’s right.

“Undo Culture of Racism”

Falls Church’s City Council and City Manager Wyatt Shields released a joint statement, saying that they “re-affirm our values of fairness and equal opportunity for all.”

“Mr. Floyd’s death lays bare once again, a long troubling truth that minorities in this country disproportionately experience violent and fatal encounters with police,” the statement said. “It is a truth we all must confront.”

They said they are committed to working to “undo the culture of racism,” along with promoting justice and peace. The statement did not elaborate on how the city officials plan to tackle it.

Local Law Enforcement Weigh In

Local law enforcement heads have recently talked about the role communities play in shaping police departments.

A letter to the community from Falls Church Police Chief Mary Gavin stressed that community trust is the most “sacred” part of police work.

Gavin then shared how the city’s police department strives to reinforce equality: taking the words “citizen” and “resident” out of policies, focusing on diverse hiring and striving for inclusiveness with their practices. She also called for a structural change that goes beyond firing “bad actors.”

“When public servants fail us by abusing the authority invested in them by the community they have sworn to protect and serve, it destroys trust and partnerships, the fabric of our community,” Gavin said.

On Friday, Fairfax County Police Department Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. talked about the police department’s community policing efforts and addressed eroding trust in law enforcement.

“We shall have faith the local and federal justice systems will navigate toward justice for the Floyd family, the communities impacted, and our entire nation,” he said. “However, we must be mindful there is a healing process where righteous anger needs to be constructively exercised through the right to free speech.”

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

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Beyer Rebukes Trump’s “Naked Authoritarianism” — “U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, issued a sharp rebuke of President Trump’s actions and words on Monday.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Bike Buddies — “The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB)  has established a bike-adviser program to encourage people to try bicycling during the shutdown of Silver Line and Orange Line Metro stations over the summer.” [Inside NoVa]

Crime Time — “Homicides spiked 9.5 percent in Virginia last year, while motor-vehicle thefts, burglaries and drug arrests declined, according to Virginia State Police statistics released May 29.” [Inside NoVa]

More Options for Outdoor Seating — “Vienna Town Council adopted a temporary emergency ordinance [Monday night] that allows Town of Vienna businesses to take advantage of outdoor commercial activities that currently are permitted under Phase One of the Forward Virginia business reopening plan.” [Town of Vienna]

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation

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Now that Fairfax County has started to ease some COVID-19 restrictions, new activity at the Mosaic District suggests that the shopping center may return to its pre-pandemic popularity.

Tysons Reporter’s staff photographer Jay Westcott ventured out to the Mosaic District last week right before the first part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s multi-phase reopening strategy started in the county.

Westcott spotted at least a dozen people milling around the green outside the Angelika Film Center, walking dogs, getting takeout from local eateries and sitting outside 6 feet apart from other people.

Deka Lash and Mom and Pop have now reopened, while Anthropologie is offering curbside pick-up, according to the Mosaic District Facebook page. Meanwhile, home goods store Great Gatherings re-reopened in its new location, the posts said.

In addition to the businesses opening their doors again after temporary closures, people can also spot signs for upcoming businesses, like Sephora, Gyu Shige and Urban Hot Pot.

Tables and chairs — with a sign warning people against moving them — are set up outside West Elm. Some of the stores and restaurants have placards on the ground to remind people to social distance.

“Practice social distancing. Wash your hands often. Wear a mask when appropriate,” the sign said.

For that last point, many of the people Westcott captured in his photos did have face coverings.

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