Tysons, VA

As Northern Virginia reopens under phase one, people are beginning to visit public places like restaurants and shops again.

While Gov. Ralph Northam and health directors in Northern Virginia say that COVID-19 trends are going in the right direction, the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Public Health warn that there is still a risk for community transmission of the virus.

For animals, though, the CDC issued a statement saying that the likelihood of catching the disease from a pet is very low. Still, people may feel hesitant to interact with other people or pets.

Currently, county-run dog parks are closed, according to the Fairfax County Park Authority. Several apartment buildings have their own dog parks in the Tysons area, along with ones in the Mosaic District and Vienna.

As COVID-19 restrictions get rolled back, Tysons Reporter would like to know how our readers feel about bringing fido to the local dog park. Let us know in the poll below and feel free to leave a comment.

Photo by Jonathan Slater on Unsplash

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Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria are enticing shoppers back as Virginia moves forward with easing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.

Both malls are offering curbside pick-up for certain retailers and people can also order food for take-out or delivery from their restaurants.

The malls are open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-6 p.m. on Sundays, according to their websites.

While shoppers can go to some stores inside Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Galleria’s website says that the inside of the mall is still closed — shoppers can use the curbside pick-up option or visit stores and restaurants with exterior-facing entrances.

Northern Virginia is poised to reopen soon, while the rest of the state has already started the first phase of easing restrictions. The governor’s orders from late March never fully closed the state, though, and non-essential businesses have been able to stay open as long as they limit customers to 10 people or less.

Let us know if you’ve been to either mall recently, and, if so, tell us in the comments what the experience was like.

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While grocery stores have been booming with customers during the coronavirus pandemic, many farmers markets in Fairfax County have been closed due to public health concerns.

The county recently decided to reopen three of its 10 farmers markets.

Meanwhile, the Vienna Farmers Market, which is run by the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna, plans to open in June. FRESHFARM, which has a location in the Mosaic District, has pre-order and pick-up options. The NOVA Central Farm Market in Vienna is encouraging — but not requiring — pre-orders.

When Gov. Ralph Northam issued restrictions for non-businesses in March — which are still in effect for Northern Virginia — some people wondered why farmers market weren’t included in the list of essential businesses. Northam’s orders placed the same restrictions on farmers markets as restaurants.

Now, some groups are pushing Northam to classify farmers markets as “essential.”

Let us know in the poll below what you think.

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak/Unsplash

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This op-ed was submitted by Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik on May 19. It does not reflect the opinions of Tysons Reporter. We publish op-eds and letters to the editor of specific interest to the Tysons community. Contributions may be edited for length or content. 

The people of Fairfax County are strong and resilient, more than ever during this time of COVID-19. When I speak with community members, one common question comes up: “How can I help?” Wash your hands. Social distance. Then, help feed your neighbor.

Food insecurity is on the rise. During a recent two-week period, the Capital Area Food Bank reported a demand increase of 300% compared to the same period last year. There are 70,000 families living in poverty in Fairfax County. We need to address this problem, for access to food is a human right.

I’m calling on the Providence District to reach into your pantry or grocery cart to buy a can, give a can, and donate to Food for Others. We can tackle food insecurity in our area together at home and online.

Food for Others, located in Merrifield, is a hub that supplies food to more than 2,000 families every week. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, three times more families have relied on Food for Others to feed their households. This is why I have partnered with Food for Others and neighborhoods in our district to start local food drives. You can help.

Start organizing! You can take action by reaching out to your homeowners’ association or community organization to help set up a neighborhood food drive. Establish a drop off location and spread the word to your neighbors. Organize volunteers to pick up the canned goods and produce to deliver to Food for Others.

We can help! Contact our team at [email protected] and we can work with you to organize a safe and engaging food drive that fits your community.

Canned chili, canned chicken, canned fruit, rice, spaghetti sauce, cardboard boxes and fresh produce are some of the items most in demand. If you are fortunate to have a home vegetable or herb garden, plant an additional row and donate your fresh produce to Food for Others. Your neighbors in need will thank you!

The Providence District has made so much progress already. The Falls Hill and Miller Heights organizations have each collected 800 pounds of food, and many other communities in our district have donated hundreds of pounds of food.  I can’t wait to see how big this effort can grow.

Let’s join forces and fight this battle against hunger together. I am so proud of the work the Providence District has already done to help one another. There is more work to be done to bring food security to our neighbors in need. I thank you for your help.

Photo via Providence Supervisor Dalia Palchik/Facebook

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Northern Virginia still has a few weeks to go before Fairfax County and neighboring localities might be able to start easing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.

The rest of Virginia started the first phase of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan on Friday. When Northern Virginia hits the targetted COVID-19 measures, restaurants will be able to offer outdoor seating at 50% capacity.

As temperatures rise, outdoor dining — whether at home or at a local eatery — will allow people to soak up the sun and stay out of stuffy or air-conditioned rooms.

While the date for the first reopening phase in N. Va. is still uncertain, we want to know if you will feel comfortable dining outside at a restaurant. Let us know in the poll below and discuss it further in the comments section.

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Editor’s note: What’s it like getting tested for COVID-19? In an unscientific poll, 12 respondents told Tysons Reporter they were tested and had gotten results, while two said they were waiting for results. Meanwhile, 55 respondents said they plan to get tested. 

We recently asked people living in Tysons, Merrifield, Falls Church, McLean and Vienna to share what their COVID-19 testing experiences were like. Matthew H., a Merrifield resident, shared the following story. It’s been lightly condensed and edited.  

In mid-March, I visited the Inova Primary Care in Dunn Loring (2671 Avenir Place) with fever, chills, headache, coughing and shortness of breath. I am in my mid-30s with no preexisting conditions.

I was sent home and asked to quarantine for two weeks, but was not tested due to tests not being available, the fact I hadn’t been overseas and that my fever was low grade.

My cough persisted and I finally got a COVID test [the week of April 19] at the Inova Urgent Care facility in Tysons off Route 7.

I had to call to confirm my appointment three times and was surprised to hear that they did not want to schedule me after 4 p.m. — they are open until 8 p.m. — because there were no other tests scheduled and they were trying to “reduce the use of PPE and group tests together.”

I urged them to take me and they agreed.

I was instructed to call again when I parked, they then instructed me to “pull around back next to the dumpster.” I waited 35 minutes and called again. Finally a man opened the back door and held out his finger to acknowledge me.

Five minutes later, a man stayed at the door with a bag and the nurse came out to give the test. I was frustrated by the process but chose to not complain as I cannot imagine the stress the health care workers are facing now.

The test itself is not pleasant.  It is like a flu swab but much deeper. After swabbing both nostrils they told me I would receive the test results in a few days.

My test came back negative but my doctor believes that I likely just got the test too late. I am still having respiratory issues and I can only imagine how difficult this experience would be for someone with more serious health conditions or advanced age.

Have you been tested and want to share your experience? Email us at [email protected] 

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Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is Andrea Dahl, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council. 

Bio: I’m Andrea Dahl and I’m running for Town Council because I believe I can make a positive impact. As an energetic mom and community volunteer with 20 years of corporate experience, it’s always my mission to come up with creative ways to do things better, for less money.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?

I recognize that growth is inevitable and welcome much of it. However, I think that we can do a better job managing it to preserve our small-town feel and strengthen our sense of community. New growth needs to include comprehensive planning, looking at the full impact on our roads and class sizes, but also protecting the overall quality of life of our current residents. What is right for Tysons is not necessarily right for our town nor what most residents of Vienna want.

I don’t think we need another storage area in the heart of historic downtown Vienna, but there seems to be some consensus that residents would like a vibrant downtown filled with more mom and pop restaurants, taverns, outdoor cafes, galleries, and unique shops where residents can safely walk and bike around. These small businesses help differentiate our town from Tysons and would be welcomed by most residents.

Prior to this pandemic, I supported the town making strategic land acquisitions as key property becomes available because I recognize that land in the town is finite. In my opinion, the purchase of commercial property to create the Town Green was one of the best decisions ever made by the Town. Given today’s environment, we will need to look at the full impact of this pandemic on our economy and the residents and businesses within our town before moving forward with any discretionary expenditures.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

Maple Avenue is already at capacity when it comes to traffic. This means that any extra traffic from Maple Avenue spills over to our residential streets. While I’m not opposed to development on Maple Avenue, I think that any future development has to make sense taking into consideration the full impact on our roads, schools, and town services. To ease cut-thru traffic and slow vehicle speeds, I support installing traffic calming measures like speed humps, speed cushions, and realigned intersections.

It would make sense for the town to work with Dominion Power to install sidewalks on certain streets at the same time that Dominion Power is burying their lines. This collaboration will save the town money and make our neighborhood streets safer, prettier, and our power service more reliable. This also helps many local home builders because Dominion Power is absorbing the cost to bury our power lines instead of developers paying to do this with any new construction.

Roundabouts at select intersections, flashing lights for pedestrians to cross busy intersections as well as adding trees and vegetation next to busy roadways are other options we can use to effectively slow traffic and make our roads safer.

Additionally, I support working with local sports leagues to minimize practices that require driving children to school practices across town, especially at the elementary school level.

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?

According to the Collins Dictionary, “small town is used when referring to small places… where people are friendly, honest, and polite.” Small towns tend to have their own special characteristics. Since people tend to know one another and look out for each other, people living in small towns often feel safer and happier. This has never been more evident than now.

During this pandemic, I have seen all kinds of people in our town step up to help others in so many creative ways that I am proud to call Vienna home. In my opinion, the Town of Vienna is a type of oasis in the middle of the Northern Virginia sprawl. Its close knit community is what gives Vienna its small town feel and we should want to preserve that.

To best keep Vienna’s small town feel, we should continue to do things that promote building a strong sense of community as this is what differentiates Vienna from neighboring areas. Community events like the annual Halloween Parade and the Church Street Holiday Stroll are favorites that everyone looks forward to.

At a minimal cost, Vienna could offer additional events like weekly summer outdoor movies, indoor winter movies at the Community Center for kids and seniors, more concerts on the Town Green, and even a Dog Jog & Walk fundraiser to further strengthen our sense of community.

Vienna has a long history of being named a “Tree City USA.” What steps would you like to see Vienna take to become greener and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly?

I am very passionate about preserving our parks, trees, and green space. I would like to strengthen our town’s involvement in the “Tree City USA” Program by displaying a higher level of commitment to urban forestry.

With all the new construction, we’re losing our big old trees at an alarming pace. Often homeowners are forced to spend thousands of dollars to cut down their trees that have died primarily as a result of new construction bordering their property. Last fall, the town arborist shared with me that this is happening all over Vienna.

Our residents and our trees should be better protected. We need to develop and implement a town tree policy that replaces trees that die. Residential lot coverage requirements should remain at 25% to promote green space. We need to encourage more open space, green space, and setback requirements on all new commercial projects.

Additionally, I have a background developing and implementing recycling programs with companies nationwide which I plan to use to improve recycling in our town. We can do a better job educating our residents on what is recyclable and what is not. With China no longer taking our trash, the reality is that many recyclables are landfilled if there’s no market for them or if they’re too contaminated. We can do better.

What do you want to see happen for parking at Parking Henry Library?

I believe that these are two separate issues. Our town desperately needs a parking garage which ideally should be somewhere on Maple Avenue close enough to the Town Green and W&OD Trail. A new parking garage would eliminate the overflow parking and congestion on our neighborhood roads every time there is a community event downtown.

We also need a complete renovation of our existing Patrick Henry Library. It is too small and does not meet the needs of our community. When my children were in preschool, I would actually drive to Great Falls for programs offered at their local library because our Vienna library could not offer similar programs due to space limitations. Sadly, we are lucky if we visit the Patrick Henry Library here in Vienna more than a couple times each year.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?

I support limiting our height and building sizes on Maple Avenue to three stories since Maple Avenue is already at capacity for traffic and any excess traffic spills over on to our neighborhood roads negatively impacting our residents. Where possible, I encourage site modifications and repurposing existing buildings rather than replacing them similar to what has been done with the new Bear Branch Tavern. I support enforcing setback requirements on Maple Avenue and adding green space for beautification and to slow traffic.

One of my greatest concerns is what will become of the Giant-anchored shopping center in Vienna. Around northern Virginia we are seeing large, mixed-use developments with hundreds of expensive apartments like the new Scout on the Circle project at the corner of Route 50 and Route 29. This type of development lacks setbacks, green space, and doesn’t fit our small town. Under no circumstances do I want to see anything similar where our Giant currently sits.

I support rewriting commercial codes to make them easier for everyone to understand. I also support developing a vision for future development on Maple Avenue to preserve how we want Vienna to look in the years to come.

When I worked in Michigan, I frequently represented my franchisees at town planning meetings to get approval for construction projects including signs advertising their businesses. Vienna needs to develop a vision with resident input for our commercial development to set the framework for how we should move forward.

People interested in learning more about Dahl’s campaign can check out her website.

Photo courtesy Andrea Dahl

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During these challenging times, we want to know what you’re doing to try to stay happy and healthy.

Self-care ranges from physical health to emotional wellness. While social distancing guidelines and Virginia’s stay-at-home order have restricted certain activities like gathering with friends at a restaurant, shopping at malls and going to movie theaters, many businesses have pivoted to virtual offerings.

Previously, Tysons Reporter has rounded up online workout classes from local gyms, bookstores offering delivery and curbside pickup and virtual religious services.

We also have a list of restaurants offering take-out and delivery in the Tysons area. For people wanting to make their own staycation, we have a guide for that too.

Let us know how you’re practicing self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vote for your favorite from the list below and feel free to share your other top picks in the comments section.

Photo via Avrielle Suleiman on Unsplash

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Virginia officials are looking to ramp up COVID-19 testing efforts.

Gov. Ralph Northam has said that increasing testing capacity is key to determining when to walk back restrictions on businesses and large gatherings, WTVR in Richmond reported.

The article noted that Northam created a working group to address test backlogs, increase the number of test sites and tackle shortages of equipment needed for tests.

The Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and its towns and cities, has seen more than 13,000 test results, according to data earlier this week from the Virginia Department of Health.

Fairfax County has a list of resources for people seeking COVID-19 tests. In Tysons, places with testing include the Inova Urgent Care Center (8357 Leesburg Pike) and Kaiser Permanente (8008 Westpark Drive).

Let us know in the poll below if you have gotten a COVID-19 test.

If you live in Tysons, McLean, Merrifield, Vienna or Falls Church and have gotten a test or plan to, please contact us at [email protected] if you are willing to share your experience for an article.

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Metro is gearing up for work this summer that will close all of the Orange and Silver line stations west of Ballston.

Last week, Metro announced it is expanding its work from just platform reconstruction at several Orange Line stations to include connection of the upcoming Silver Line Phase II stations, which run from Reston to Ashburn.

Low Metro ridership and severely reduced highway traffic due to Virginia’s stay-at-home order prompted the additional work, Metro officials said.

Starting Saturday, May 23, nine stations will be closed through the fall. Free express and local shuttle buses, along with Fairfax Connector routes, will help connect riders traveling around Northern Virginia.

Let Tysons Reporter know if the expanded summer work will impact you.

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