“While this action limits the amount of available vaccine, its impact on the Fairfax Health District is minimal since the Fairfax County Health Department and its partners have primarily been using Pfizer vaccine for the past several months,” the county health department wrote in a blog post.
The county health department says this latest setback does not affect any of its clinics or appointments, and the “small amount” of the J&J vaccine that was being used will be substituted with the other vaccines.
“Fairfax County did not receive any J&J vaccine this week, and we were not expecting any next week. A small amount of J&J vaccine remaining from last week and allocated for this week will be substituted with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to avoid any cancellations at our Health Department sites,” the county said.
They also advise those who did receive the J&J vaccine to contact their health provider if they develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended this morning (Tuesday) that use of the J&J vaccine be paused while they review reports that six recipients, all women, developed a rare disorder involving blood clots after taking the vaccine.
In total, more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine has been administered across the country, and the FDA is classifying the adverse, though dangerous, reactions as “extremely rare.”
The CDC and FDA say their recommendation comes “out of abundance of caution” so that further review and study can be done.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced just before 9 a.m. that Virginia would follow the federal government’s guidance and temporarily pause its use of the J&J vaccine until an investigation is complete.
“This pause is reassuring in that it demonstrates that the systems that are in place to monitor vaccine safety are working,” Virginia Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said in a statement. “We look forward to a thorough review by federal health officials.”
This is the second snag that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has hit in the past two weeks after a production mess-up at a Baltimore manufacturing plant contaminated as many as 15 million doses.
As a result, many states, including Virginia, have had their vaccine orders significantly cut. Virginia was expected to receive only about one-tenth of the number of doses of the J&J vaccine this coming week than the previous week.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told Tysons Reporter that the county did not anticipate getting any of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week or next week due to that supply shortage.
“The possible side effects of the vaccine are concerning for our national vaccination efforts because they [are] significantly dependent on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” McKay said. “At the end of the day however, safety and efficacy is most important and we are lucky we have two great vaccine options still available.
Earlier this month, Fairfax County committed to the same goal as the Commonwealth in having everyone over the age of 16 be eligible for the vaccine starting April 18. However, that was contingent on there being a sufficient supply.
Northam reiterated during a press conference outside Metz Middle School in Manassas, which hosted a vaccination clinic today, that Virginia still hopes that all adults who want to get vaccinated will receive their first dose by the end of May.
“Hopefully, this is just a small setback that we’ll overcome,” Northam said.
Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.
Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools
The ShowPlace ICON Theatre at The Boro is set to reopen on Friday, April 23.
The Tysons theater had its grand opening in February 2020 but closed shortly after due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened in August 2020 with new safety protocols to keep patrons safe, but movie release dates kept getting pushed back.
“That, coupled with mandated operating restrictions, did not make it financially viable to stay open,” ShowPlace ICON Marketing Director Jim Nowicki said.
The theater closed again in September. Now, with the population of vaccinated people increasing and box office numbers growing again, ShowPlace ICON is reopening its doors to the public.
To celebrate the reopening, the theater will be having a “Welcome Back” promotion. Matinees will be $8 per person, and evening shows will be $11 for adults and $8 for seniors, military, students, and children. All food and drinks (excluding alcohol) will be 20% off.
Like last time it reopened, ShowPlace says it is participating in the National Association of Theatre Owners’ CinemaSafe program, which commits theaters to adhering to federal, state, and local health guidelines and implementing “enhanced safety measures,” such as mask requirements, regular cleaning, and staggered showtimes.
ShowPlace will require customers to wear face masks except when in the act of eating or drinking, and guests are encouraged to order tickets and concessions by using the theater’s lobby kiosks or the company’s ICON Extras mobile app.
“We truly believe we have the best moviegoing experience in the market, and now we made it even better for you to come out and enjoy a movie back on the big screen,” Nowicki said.
In addition to starting regular screenings, ShowPlace will have a private screening and gaming program where customers can rent out an auditorium, a concept that has proven popular at other local independent theaters as they adapt to capacity limits.
At ShowPlace, private screenings start at $99 and can accommodate up to 20 people. Customers can screen a movie chosen from a list of current films or plug in a gaming console for up to two-and-a-half hours.
The Falls Church City School Board will hear suggested new monikers for two schools during its meeting tonight (Tuesday).
Two committees tasked with renaming George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School have narrowed down hundreds of names to their top five, which were submitted to the school board on Friday (April 9).
“I’m in support of changing the names of our elementary and high schools, because if one student feels uncomfortable walking into a building named for a person who did not respect the dignity of another human being, that’s one too many,” School Board Member Lawrence Webb said in December.
According to the committee’s final report, the top five contenders for the high school are:
- Meridian High School
- Metropolitan High School
- Metro View High School
- Tinner Hill High School
- West End High School
Committee members said they considered names that reference places, ideas, or values, as well as “M” names and those with local connections or historical significance. It started with nearly 280 suggested names.
One name with some support that did not make the cut was Falls Church City High School. Falls Church High School already exists in the Fairfax County Public Schools system, though some recent letters to Falls Church News-Press indicate people hold a variety of opinions on which jurisdiction has a real claim to the name.
Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School could be renamed:
- Mattie Gundry Elementary School
- Oak Street Elementary Schoo
- The Little City Elementary School
- Tripps Run Elementary School
- Truth and Justice Elementary School
The elementary school was originally a Fairfax County school named Oak Street School. When FCCPS became an independent school division, the name stayed, but when the city’s Jefferson Institute was demolished, the school board voted to adopt Thomas Jefferson’s name.
Tinner Hill and Mattie Gundry are the only suggestions with ties to people, which the committees flagged. FCCPS policy allows facilities to bear the names of people who have been dead at least 10 years, but some committee members say that they — or the people they represent — want to avoid possibly opening the school community up to controversy in the future.
Tinner Hill refers to Charles and Mary Tinner, who established a quarry in the area, and their descendent Joseph, who fought for civil rights and helped found the first rural branch of the NAACP.
“The committee raised concerns that selecting this name may be performative if not coupled with earnest work towards building equity in our schools and our community,” the report said. “Given the historical mistreatment of the Tinner Hill community, it is imperative that this name be considered as one part of a plan that will emphasize the value and respect due to the city’s African-American residents.”
The committee said it has spoken with members of the Tinner family who support the name for consideration.
“The Tinner Family expressed their gratitude and said that it is an honor that the Falls Church City community suggested the name of their family and their historic community represent the FCCPS high school,” the report said.
Gundry, meanwhile, was an educator who opened The Virginia Training School in 1899, making it the only school that served students with disabilities in the South. Some committee members expressed concern that future generations could determine that her school’s treatment of people with disabilities may not rise to modern standards.
Input on the monicker was also mixed because of a general disinterest in renaming the school after a different person.
“Feedback on this name was that we should avoid naming the school after a person,” the report said. “This name did not rank highly when students from three classrooms were polled.”
Transportation Group Urges Support for 495 NEXT — The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance reiterated its support for extending toll lanes on the Capital Beltway in a letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ahead of its vote today. The organization argues that the project “will unequivocally improve the quality of life in Northern Virginia, spur further economic development, and meet the transportation needs of future generations.” [NVTA]
McLean Resident Urges Board to Delay 495 NEXT — A McLean resident argues in a letter to the editor that there has been insufficient community outreach about the project, which she says will result in increased congestion on the highway and in local neighborhoods. [Patch]
Madison High School Sets Graduation Ceremony Date — “IN PERSON GRADUATION! June 1 at Jiffy Lube Live. We have many details and logistics to figure out, but we are just excited to announce our graduates will be walking across an actual stage! Be sure to keep up with JMHS emails for details.” [James Madison High School/Twitter]
Fortune Names McLean Companies Among Top 10 Best Places to Work — “Fortune’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For…puts two large companies with headquarters in the D.C. region in the top 10. Hilton Worldwide ranks No. 3, while Capital One Financial ranks ninth. Both are headquartered in McLean, Virginia.” [WTOP]
Falls Church City Highlights Reopened Park — Big Chimneys Park on Gibson Street reopened in January after undergoing an extensive renovation that included updating the playground equipment, addressing stormwater issues, and adding a new accessible trail to the Winter Hill neighborhood to the west. [City of Falls Church/Twitter]
(Updated at 10:10 a.m. on 4/13/2021) The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will take an official position on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s much-debated Interstate 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project when it meets on Tuesday (April 13).
A prepared letter to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine suggests the board plans to endorse the project, which will extend the I-495 Express Lanes about three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange in Tysons to the American Legion Memorial Bridge.
However, whether the board will actually approve the letter as it currently stands remains to be seen.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust told Tysons Reporter on Friday (April 9) that he hopes to revise the letter with firmer language calling for closer coordination with Maryland’s plans to widen the American Legion Bridge and I-270 and objecting to the design of the Capital Beltway/Dulles Toll Road interchange.
“If I can’t get those revisions made, I won’t be able to support it,” Foust said.
The letter says the 495 NEXT “will improve mobility” in the D.C. region by connecting the existing 495 Express Lanes to toll lanes that Maryland is considering constructing on its side of the Potomac River.
It indicates that Fairfax County and VDOT have made progress on addressing transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and stormwater management concerns that have been raised throughout the project’s development.
According to the letter, VDOT will fund the capital and operating costs of one of the Tysons-Montgomery County bus routes proposed by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s transit demand management study.
The state has also now committed to continuing its planned regional trail toward Tysons instead of stopping it at Lewinsville Road, and the county is working with VDOT to secure an agreement that would require the 495 NEXT builder to contribute funds to Scotts Run stream restoration efforts.
At the same time, county officials say they “remain concerned” about the possibility that Maryland will further delay its express lanes project. Without a widened American Legion Bridge, the 495 NEXT project would simply move the congestion that currently plagues drivers on the Beltway further north.
“The continuation of an express lanes system into Maryland over the ALMB remains a critical priority to realize the maximum benefit of the I-495 NEXT project,” the Board of Supervisors letter says. “The Board continues to strongly encourage VDOT to coordinate with Maryland to minimize the time between the opening of the I-495 NEXT express lanes and Maryland’s managed lanes.”
Foust says he hopes to revise the letter to tell the Commonwealth Transportation Board “to wait until we are certain that Maryland is going to move forward with their project before we authorize [express lanes operator] Transurban to begin construction of 495 NEXT.”
He also wants to make clear his opposition to the proposed design of the Dulles Toll Road interchange.
“I suspect that it is designed to move cars very effectively, but it is just outrageously huge and visually unacceptable for that location adjacent to Tysons,” he said.
Virginia and Maryland’s Beltway plans have also drawn criticism from environmental advocates.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth, Audubon Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and Sierra Club chapters from both states released a “Best Smart Growth Plan” on Friday, urging officials to pause the projects and conduct a comprehensive analysis to find “a less destructive and more sustainable and equitable solution.”
Foust says he is “sensitive” to the groups’ environmental concerns, noting that some impact on parks, trees, streams, and open space is unavoidable with an infrastructure project of this size.
However, he believes Virginia and Maryland have already waited too long to address the traffic issues at the American Legion Bridge, and postponing action for another 15 years, when the bridge is expected to need a replacement, would be “absolutely unacceptable.”
“We’ll have to mitigate those impacts, but there’s no reason to incur them if Maryland doesn’t move forward with their project to connect to 495,” Foust said.
VDOT acknowledged that there have been persistent concerns about 495 NEXT in a statement to Tysons Reporter:
VDOT continues to
collaborate with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and staff to listen to and address their concerns on VDOT’s I-495 Northern Extension Express Lanes Project. The issues identified by Fairfax County remain important to VDOT and to our efforts to develop and deliver the best possible multimodal transportation solution for the I-495 corridor, and make a positive impact on our Commonwealth.
Photo via Google Maps
More than one-fifth of Virginia’s population has now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Virginia Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard indicates that 1.8 million residents — or 21.3% of the state’s population — have now received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
That puts the Commonwealth in line with the U.S. as a whole, which has fully vaccinated 21.9% of its population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Virginia is slightly ahead of the country overall when it comes to first-dose vaccinations. According to the VDH, 3.1 million people — or 36.6% of the state’s population — have gotten at least one vaccine dose, compared to 35.9% of the total U.S. population.
Fairfax County, however, seems to be a beat behind the overall state. 223,113 residents have been fully vaccinated, which is about 19% of the county’s total population of 1.1 million people. 402,129 residents have received at least one dose.
Still, the county has been delivering vaccinations at a steadier pace in recent weeks as the availability of supplies has increased.
In the initial weeks of the vaccine rollout, residents had to wait more than a month between when they signed up to get the vaccine and when they could actually schedule an appointment. That gap between registration and scheduling is now closer to a week, based on the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard, which says that the department is currently making appointments for people who registered on April 5.
The county received 65,710 first and second vaccine doses from the state during the week of April 5-11. There are just under 32,000 people on the health department’s waitlist, about 8% of the 418,023 people who have registered so far.
Scenes from our vaccine clinics: this is Government Center where 250 public health volunteers and staff are administering second doses for thousands of clients pic.twitter.com/AOIYdyDxSe
— FairfaxCounty Health (@fairfaxhealth) April 10, 2021
With Fairfax County aiming to join the rest of the state in opening registration for all adults on April 18, the faster pace of vaccinations has been countered by a rise in COVID-19 cases and concerns about variants that are believed to spread more quickly than the original virus.
With 196 new cases reported today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has now recorded 74,259 total COVID-19 cases, 3,859 hospitalizations, and 1,080 deaths.
The county’s weekly average went up from 150.1 cases over the past seven days on April 5 to 181.4 cases today, and has been generally trending upward since hitting a low for 2021 of 133.6 cases on March 15.
According to CDC data, as of today, Virginia has reported 349 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant that orginated in the United Kingdom and has been associated with an increased risk of severe illness or death. There have also been 37 reported cases involving the B.1.351 variant, which was first detected in South Africa.
There is no evidence yet that the B.1.351 varient causes increased risks of severe illlness or death, but there is a “moderate reduction” in the immune protection offered by a vaccination or natural infection, according to the VDH.
Image via Virginia Department of Health
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.
We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Tuesday (Apr. 13)
- Coffee with a Cop — 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Mom & Pop (2909 District Ave) — The Fairfax County Police Department will be at Mom & Pop in the Mosaic District to chat over a cup of coffee. This is an opportunity to meet the police officers in the community and get to know them. Adherance to social distancing guidelines and masks are required.
Wednesday (Apr. 14)
- (the) Unruly Theatre Project’s Virtual Improv Show (Online) — 7 p.m. — The McLean Community Center’s teen improv group is putting on its latest virtual performance. Registration is open up to two hours before the show. The Zoom link and password will be emailed to those who register. For more information, contact [email protected]
- Rainbows, Halos and Glories Webinar (Online) — 7:30-8:30 p.m. — Join staff and volunteers from the Analemma Society to learn about phenomena in the sky such as rainbows, haloes, glories, and different colored skies. Register to receive the Zoom link for the class, which costs $8 per person. For more information, call Colvin Run Mill at 703-759-2771.
- Author Talk with Joby Warrick (Online) — 7 – 8 p.m. — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library will host a talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joby Warrick about his new book, Red Line: The Unraveling of Syria and America’s Race to Destroy the Most Dangerous Arsenal in the World. Warrick has been a reporter for The Washington Post since 1996 and has written two other works. Email Marshall Webster at [email protected] for more information and the Zoom link.
Thursday (Apr. 15)
- ’80s Music Drag Bingo with Miss Fluffy Soufflé (Online) — 7 p.m. — The McLean Community Center mixes bingo with a drag show that is sure to send you back to the ’80s. Instead of calling out numbers, host Fluffy Soufflé will play music clips of songs from the ’80s. Tickets are available now through 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14. A Zoom link and bingo cards will be emailed after tickets have been purchased.
Friday (Apr. 16)
- Trivia Night (Online) — 7-9 p.m. — The McLean Community Center is hosting a family-friendly, virtual trivia night. Registration is required, and the price is $5 per team. There will be prizes for the winning teams.
- Musical Road Trip (Online) — 2-3 p.m. — Join Ben Pernick, board-certified music therapist, on a journey through classic songs from across the country. There will also be trivia from the different stops. This event is aimed at adults, and registration is required.
- Mayor’s Walk — 9:30 a.m. at Vienna Town Hall (127 Center Street South) — Meet Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert in front of Town Hall and take a walk through town. This is an opportunity to chat with Mayor Colbert or voice questions and concerns.
Saturday (Apr. 17)
- McLean Earth Day Event — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave) — McLean residents can celebrate Earth Day early by stopping by MCC’s disposal site, which will have paper shredders, paint recycling, bulk/household item collection, composting and more. Visitors can also pick up limited supplies of tree saplings and pollinator seed packets and see an art installation made of recycled materials from the Brooksfield School. See the McLean Community Center posting for more information on activities and what items can be brought for disposal.
Sunday (Apr. 18)
- John McCutcheon: The Old Home Place (Online) — 7 p.m. — Called “Folk Music’s rustic renaissance man” by The Washington Post, John McCutcheon is returning for his annual performance at his most frequented venue, The Barns at Wolf Trap. Live-stream tickets range from $5 to $50 and can be purchased through the Wolf Trap website.
A planned overhaul of The Madeira School won the uncontested endorsement of the McLean Citizens Association last week as it moves towards the Fairfax County Planning Commission for review.
The Madeira School is an all-girl’s private school at 8328 Georgetown Pike in McLean founded in 1906. While not looking to expand its student population, the school is hoping to expand and renovate some of the outdated buildings.
The centerpiece of the proposal is the removal of the site’s existing science building so it can be replaced with a new structure with upgraded classrooms. Other additions include a stables building, a new residential hall, and new faculty housing.
In an article on the school’s website, school administrators say the new classrooms will replace outdated 1970s facilities that don’t meet the school’s needs and are difficult to maintain.
“Replacing Madeira’s current science facility is a critical need — and not only because our curriculum has outgrown it,” the school said. “We are limited by our current building, constructed in the 1970s, which is extremely costly to maintain, has an insufficient number of classrooms, antiquated laboratories, structural flaws, and inflexible spaces. The new building will elevate the program for Madeira’s engaged students and signals a bold new standard.”
With very little discussion, the McLean Citizens Association voted to approve a resolution endorsing the school’s application to amend its existing special exception permit during a board of directors’ meeting on April 7.
The Madeira School’s application to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning states that it is seeking the following modifications and improvements:
- Removal of the existing Biedler Science Center building, elimination of a previously approved but unbuilt addition to the building, and construction of a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) building. Construction of this building will be key to upgrading all of the School’s classrooms, because it will relocate several existing math classrooms out of the Schoolhouse I building, leaving a block of space that can be spread around both Schoolhouse buildings for reconfiguring and upgrading purposes.
- Removal of the existing Stables building, including elimination of a previously approved but unbuilt addition, and removal of the existing Gaines Hall Indoor Riding Ring building, and construction of a new Stables building, riding arena, and hot walker’.
- Removal of the existing two-story residence known as the “Farmhouse,” to be replaced by a new two-story, 5,000 square foot residence.
- Removal of the existing residence known as the “Laurels,” to be replaced with six units for faculty housing. The proposed faculty housing will be four-story two-over-two stacked townhouses. The density for such units has been reallocated from previously approved faculty housing units that were not constructed to their maximum approved square footage.
- Removal of the existing Health Center, to be replaced with eight units for faculty housing. The proposed units will be four-story two-over-two stacked townhouses. The density for such units has been reallocated from previously approved faculty housing units that were not constructed to their maximum approved square footage. The Health Center function will move into the current studio arts building.
The proposed improvements and uses are accessory to the existing primary use as a private school of general education with an enrollment of more than 100 students. None of these projects will encroach into the existing RPA. All previously approved structures that have not yet been constructed are deemed to be approved pursuant to the previous approvals and are depicted
The Planning Commission hearing for the project is scheduled for Wednesday, April 28.
Image via Madeira School
Fairfax County Records Third Pedestrian Death of 2021 — Police reported on Friday (April 9) that Falls Church resident Ramakant Bhusal, 36, was struck by a car while crossing Arlington Boulevard near the Graham Road intersection. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors for the driver. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Construction to Begin on Marco Polo Development — Starting today (April 12), the sidewalk in front of 245 Maple Avenue W. in Vienna will be closed for approximately five months “to allow for safety and proper right-of-way during construction.” The mixed-use Vienna Market development was approved to take over the former Marco Polo site in 2019. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Inova Seeks Volunteers for COVID-19 Vaccine Site — “Fairfax County has received a request to recruit volunteers to help provide assistance to the Inova Stonebridge COVID-19 Vaccination Center in Alexandria, which provides COVID-19 vaccines predominately for individuals who reside and/or work in Fairfax County.” [Fairfax County Government]
Fairfax County Holds Virtual Budget Public Hearings This Week — Community members can weigh in on the county’s proposed FY 2022 budget and capital improvement program on Tuesday through Thursday (April 13-15). The Town of Vienna and City of Falls Church are also holding budget meetings this week. [Fairfax County Government]
Ramadan Begins Today — Agora Tysons (7911 Westpark Dr.) is one of several restaurants in the D.C. area offering halal-friendly options for carry-out and delivery in lieu of extended holiday hours during the Muslim holy month. [Dine After Dark]
Mosaic District Displays COVID-19 PSA — “Many thanks to @mosaicdistrict for showing our #COVID19 Spanish language PSA on the big screen reminding folks on the importance of wearing a mask, washing your hands & employing physical distancing.” [Northern Virginia Regional Commission/Twitter]
The weekend is almost here. Before you head out to browse a farmers market or catch up on some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit any recent news from the Tysons area that you might’ve missed from the past week.
These were the most-read stories on Tysons Reporter this week:
- Skip the Tidal Basin and check out Fairfax County’s cherry blossoms
- Falls Church City Council to hear another mixed-use development proposal for Broad and Washington
- Fairfax County will expand vaccine eligibility to all adults by April 18, given sufficient supply
- Fairfax County vaccine rollout moves to “Phase 1c” as COVID-19 cases stay level
- Falls Plaza Shopping Center gets new name as renovation is set to begin
Ideas for stories we should cover can be sent to [email protected] or submitted as an anonymous tip. Photos of scenes from around the community are welcome too, with credit always given to the photographer.
You can find previous rundowns of top stories on the site.