Tysons, VA

Labor Day is almost here — and the end of pool season.

While swimming in the pool or lounging nearby are popular summer activities, the coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on swimsuit season, unless you have a private pool or know someone who does.

Fairfax County didn’t allow public indoor and outdoor swimming pools to reopen until mid-June only for lap swimming, diving, exercise and instruction.

Then when Phase 3 guidelines went into effect on July 1, public pools could allow up to 75% occupancy with 10 feet of physical distance between users who are not from the same household. Public hot tubs, spas, saunas and spray pools are still closed though.

“This guidance applies to all community pools, including those operated by apartment and condominium complexes, recreation centers, homeowner’s associations and swim clubs,” according to Fairfax County’s website.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they don’t have evidence that the novel coronavirus can be spread in the water.

“Plus, proper operation of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds (such as at an apartment complex or owned by a community) and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus,” according to the CDC.

When we asked readers in June how they felt about using public pools, roughly 40% said they wouldn’t because of COVID-19 concerns, while 36% said they would.

With Labor Day soon marking the unofficial end to summer, we want to know if you have been to the pool. Let us know in the poll below and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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School is starting again for kids in the Tysons area, leading parents and educators to not just focus on possible health risks from COVID-19, but also from students who haven’t gotten their required vaccines.

Even though it’s starting the new school year off virtually, Fairfax County Public Schools is requiring all of its students to be up-to-date on required immunizations.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found indications that fewer kids are getting immunizations — possibly due to parents’ worries that their kids will catch COVID-19 at the doctor’s office.

In addition to COVID-19 concerns, some parents are now worried if vaccine-preventable diseases pose a new threat from unvaccinated kids, National Geographic reported.

The CDC said in July that health care providers seem to have the capacity to give kids their routine vaccinations.

Fairfax County officials are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated. This summer, the county expanded its number of community childhood vaccination clinics and the hours for the clinics offering the school-required Tdap vaccine.

Let us know in the poll and comments below if your kids have all their required vaccinations for the new school year.

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Labor Day is fast approaching. And while summer may look very different this year due to COVID-19, we’re curious to know how the pandemic will impact your plans.

The federal holiday — which was first marked in the late 19th century —  is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It aims to honor the American labor movement.

Some health officials are bracing for a spike in COVID-19 cases following Labor Day weekend, as parks and other venues become popular spots for celebrations.

For some, the weekend may mark a return to a new normal.  Fairfax County Public Schools will reopen on Sept. 8 with a virtual start. Many companies are planning to reopen offices after the weekend. Other employers are in the midst of rethinking plans for the return to work, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Let us know what your plans for Labor Day weekend are in the poll below.

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After delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, several new films are hitting the screens at newly-reopened movie theaters.

“Tenet,” “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Bill & Ted Face The Music” are some of the films poised to hit theaters soon.

In the Tysons area, ShowPlace Icon in The Boro and AMC Theatre in Tysons Corner Center recently reopened. Angelika Film Center’s website says the Mosaic District location is “coming soon.”

Gov. Ralph Northam forced movie theaters to close in the spring, but under Phase Three, which started July 1, movie theaters can open at 50% capacity.

Let us know in the poll and comments below if you are comfortable heading to movie theaters again.

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As families, educators and school systems grapple with how to return to school during the coronavirus pandemic, some parents are turning to “learning pods” this fall.

Learning pods — also known as “pandemic pods” — are essentially micro-schools. Small groups of kids learn together in-person either from a tutor or parents.

A New York Times survey found that most of the families who said they plan to use learning pods said that they address both concerns about health risks at school and desire for in-person education.

Some local parents say that having multiple families chip in makes hiring a tutor more affordable and that the pods will make it easier for them to go back to work than if their kids were learning virtually.

However, the concept has raised questions about the wealth disparity with education.

Fairfax County Public Schools recently brought up concerns about “tutoring pods,” saying that the school system is declining requests from parents to have FCPS teachers lead their pods.

“While FCPS doesn’t and can’t control these private tutoring groups, we do have concerns that they may widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students,” the statement said. “Many parents cannot afford private instruction. Many working families can’t provide transportation to and from a tutoring pod, even if they could afford to pay for the service.”

Let us know in the poll and comments below what you think of learning pods.

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“Shop local” has become a popular refrain during the pandemic as small businesses struggle with the economic fall-out and health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Several small businesses have permanently closed during the pandemic, but many have found ways to keep their doors from shutting. Owners have told Tysons Reporter over the last few months that affluent residents, loyal customers and community support give Tysons-area businesses advantages.

Fundraisers to support businesses’ operations and employees, social media efforts by residents to promote local eateries and loans and grants from the government also aim to keep small businesses alive.

Even as businesses grapple with the pandemic, many are giving back to the community.

Lebanese restaurants and shops are fundraising for relief efforts in Beirut. A Mosaic District dry cleaners turned into a mask factory. Local eateries are donating meals to help food-insecure people in Vienna. Falls Church Distillers switched to making hand sanitizer when there was a shortage in March.

Let Tysons Reporter know in the poll and comments below how much you have been spending at small businesses during the pandemic.

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A temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings will remain in effect from this week through Sept. 7, according to a Virginia Supreme Court Order.

The move comes amid an ongoing Congressional stalemate over the next economic relief package.

In a statement on Monday (Aug. 10) Gov. Ralph Northam said the decision is necessary to ensure all Virginians maintain “safe, stable housing” as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. He hopes to work with the Commonwealth’s General Assembly this month to craft more permanent legislative protections for homeowners and tenants.

So far, the state has pumped $50 million via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) specifically for households facing eviction or foreclosure due to the pandemic. A number of county-based resources to navigate the issue are also available online.

The end of the federal moratorium on evictions, which expired last month, and the lapse of the $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits, has left many renters in peril.

Roughly 27 percent of adults in the country missed their rent or mortgage payment in July, according to a nationwide survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. Roughly 34 percent of renters said they were unsure how they would make their August payments.

Given this economic backdrop, do you think Northam should further extend the temporary ban on eviction proceedings? Let us know in the comments below. Also, we’d love to hear from readers on their experiences with paying rent and mortgages and their interactions with landlords.

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(Updated 8:10 p.m.) Virginia has teamed up with Google and Apple to offer a smartphone app for COVID-19 exposure alerts, making it the first state in the U.S. to use the new technology.

COVIDWISE will notify users if they’ve been in close proximity to someone with COVID-19 by using Bluetooth Low Energy. The app is meant to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

When announcing the app yesterday, Gov. Ralph Northam said the app can help catch new cases sooner, especially since the virus can spread before infected people show symptoms.

“This is another tool we can have to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” Northam said. “This is a way we can all work together to contain this virus.”

Once someone gets an alert, Northam encourages them to self-isolate and get tested. If the test is positive, he said that users can add that information into the app, which will then alert users that the person has recently been around.

Android and iPhone users can download the app for free.

More from Google Play about how the app works:

If someone reports to the app that they tested positive, the signals from their app will search for other app users who shared that signal. The BLE signals are date-stamped and the app estimates how close the two devices were based on signal strength. If the timeframe was at least 15 minutes and the estimated distance was within six feet, then the other user receives a notification of a possible exposure. No names! No location!

The BLE framework within COVIDWISE will run in the background, even if the exposure notification app is closed. It will not drain the device battery at a rate that would occur with other apps that use normal Bluetooth and/or are open and running constantly.

“I want to be clear, this app COVIDWISE does not — I’m going to repeat that, does not — track or store your personal information,” Northam said. “It does not track you at all. It does not rely on GPS or your personal information. While we want everyone to download it, it is voluntary.”

Let Tysons Reporter know in the poll and comments section below if you plan to download the app.

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Ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias hitting the D.C. region, Fairfax County officials and forecasters are sharing resources and tips to help people prepare for the storm.

“Significant flash flooding of small streams and creeks is likely tonight into Tuesday evening as rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Isaias spreads northward,” according to Fairfax County. Forecasters predict that the storm will bring 3-6 inches of rain.

Currently, the Tysons area is under a Tropical Storm Warning, which means that tropical storm-force winds are expected somewhere within this area within the next 36 hours,” according to National Weather Service.

The area will be under a Flash Flood Watch from 11 p.m. tonight to the same time Tuesday night and a Coastal Flood Watch will also be in effect from Tuesday morning to Wednesday.

Due to flooding risks, Fairfax County officials are reminding drivers to turn around if they see water and don’t know how deep it is. The county also tweeted out contact information for the appropriate people to call if someone spots a downed tree.

NWS wants people to protect property in flood-prone areas.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang tweeted that waves of heavy rain are expected to hit the D.C. region by Tuesday morning and that commuters should allow for extra time.

Image via NWS Baltimore-Washington/Twitter

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Earlier this week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced new regional restrictions to address a surge of COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads.

The new restrictions, which go into effect today, lower the maximum number of people allowed at gatherings, limit late-night alcohol assumption at restaurants and cut back indoor dining for restaurants.

The eastern region’s beaches and non-compliance with public health guidelines and mandates appear to be some of the factors for why the area became a coronavirus hot spot.

While the eastern portion of the state has seen a rising number of cases, Northam noted that the percent positivity rates for Northern Virginia and the western region were below the statewide rate.

“There’s been a dramatic decrease in Northern Virginia,” Northam said, about the rate.

When asked by reporters earlier this week if he would consider domestic travel restrictions, Northam said that it’s an option he’s considering. Some states are asking travelers from “high-risk” states to self-quarantine following their arrival.

Let us know in the poll and comments section below if you think Northam’s regional effort is sufficient or if he should announce statewide restrictions.

Photo via Governor of Virginia/Facebook

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