Tysons, VA

Now that Virginia is in Phase Three of rolling back restrictions, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced today that the Spring Hill Recreation Center will reopen on Monday, July 13.

The McLean center (1239 Spring Hill Road) is a part of nine recreation centers reopening in the county.

“Please keep in mind that membership gives you access to the entire RECenter system; if your RECenter isn’t one of the first opened, you can visit one that has already opened,” the Park Authority said.

Here are the centers reopening this month:

  • July 13: Spring Hill and Lee District and Oak Marr
  • July 20: Audrey Moore, Cub Run and South Run
  • July 27: George Washington, Mount Vernon and Providence

People heading to the centers can expect health screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, mandatory face coverings when not exercising, reservation requirements and time limits for visits. The Park Authority also noted that less equipment will be available for use.

More from the Park Authority:

Initially, the fitness centers and pools will reopen under timed entry restrictions for individual workouts, lap swimming and water walking. Later, drop-in exercise and other classes inside the RECenters will resume, free and plate weights will return, and racquetball and basketball courts will be available. Please consult the RECenter Operational Calendar or go to individual RECenter websites for details on the services offered at each of the RECenters.

“All openings are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, state mandates, guidance from local health officials and availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies,” the Park Authority said.

Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash

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People can get antibodies tests for COVID-19 at an upcoming blood drive in Tysons.

The Boro is hosting the American Cross blood drive, and donors will be able to get the antibody tests, which can indicate if donors have previously been infected by the virus.

More from the press release:

This will be an essential part of the life-saving network connecting donors to those in need of blood, platelets and plasma. There is an urgent need for blood donations right now to meet the needs of patients in hospitals as surgical procedures and treatments that were temporarily paused due to the pandemic resume again.

The American Red Cross is also currently testing all blood, platelet, and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies for a limited time and donors will receive the free results of their antibody test within 7-10 days through the Red Cross Blood Donor App or by logging in to the donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

The blood drive is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22, at Boro Station (1775 Greensboro Station Place). Donors, who must make appointments online, can expect social distancing in the conference center.

“Appointments allow the American Red Cross to exercise hygienic practices and provide donor services,” the press release said.

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Although the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop, local health officials are encouraging residents to maintain social distancing as the county enters phase three of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan today.

The number of COVID-19 cases has dramatically declined from a peak of around 300 cases per day to an average of 60 to 70 cases per day, according to Benjamin Schwartz, the Fairfax County Health Department’s medical epidemiologist.

“We have not seen a rebound of disease associated with our community moving into phase one and two. However, the time has been limited,” Schwartz told the county’s health committee at a meeting yesterday, adding that cases are expected to increase as health restrictions relax.

The county is using a “box it in” suppression strategy to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Efforts include intensive contact tracing in order to isolate the spread of the virus. Hiring and training for case investigators to lead contact tracing efforts are underway.

Gloria Addo-Ayensu, the health department’s director, said that COVID-19 surges in other states following reopening should “serve as a reminder that the virus has not gone away.”

“Until we develop a vaccine, we cannot return to the way things used to be,” she said, adding that residents need to “stay the course” on social distancing, wearing facial masks, and quarantining if exposed to COVID-19.

The health department launched several community testing clinics — which were targeted for specific hotspots. Herndon, which has been identified as a hotspot, had a nine percent positive test rate. Other hotspots include the Mount Vernon District and Springfield.

“We are far from over, but I do want to at least acknowledge that we have come a long way,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

Schwartz noted that the overwhelming impact of COVID-19 on the local Hispanic community has lessened somewhat, although significant disproportionality remains.

The county is recruiting Hispanic community health tracers and contact tracers. The department is also working with nongovernmental and county agencies to help families and individuals in quarantine.

Photo via Fairfax County 

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Back in mid-March, government services, community centers, restaurants, schools and more closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Now that Virginia is entering Phase Three today (Wednesday), here’s an update on what’s reopened or staying closed in the Tysons area.

Town Hall, which is currently open to the public by appointment-only, will reopen fully on Monday, July 6. “Citizens are still encouraged to limit unnecessary trips to Town Hall and to utilize online services when possible,” according to the town’s website. The town’s council, committees and boards will still meet virtually.

The community center will also reopen on Monday “with strict social distancing, reduced occupancy, and enhanced cleanings.” People will be able to rent space with limited room occupancy rules in the community center.

“Playgrounds, restrooms at parks, the Community Garden, tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, and Vienna Dog Park are open,” the town’s website said. “Field permits and picnic pavilion rentals are now allowed.”

The town has cancelled events through August, but does have some online options along with no- and low-touch summer camps.

As for closures, rentals are still not permitted at the Teen Center, Bowman House, Freeman Store & Museum and Town Green.

The City of Falls Church took to Twitter to share an overview of what Phase Three looks like:

Back in May, Wolf Trap cancelled its summer performances.

The McLean Community Center reopened in a limited capacity when Northern Virginia entered Phase Two. “To minimize face-to-face public contact, we ask that you continue to contact us online, or by email or phone,” MCC wrote on its website mid-June.

In May, Virginia DMV offices started to reopen for appointments. People can make appointments at the Tysons location (1968 Gallows Road), which is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Additionally, Virginia DMV extended the deadline for driver’s license expirations from the end of August to the end of October.

Tysons Reporter previously shared what the statewide changes will look like in Phase Three, from fitness centers and pools opening at 75% capacity to non-essential retail and restaurants fully opening.

Fairfax County Public Schools is offering families two choices for returning to school in August: full-time online instruction or two days each week at school and asynchronous learning on the remote days.

Just because more and more places are reopening doesn’t mean people have to go to them, Gov. Ralph Northam has stressed in press conferences.

Per Northam’s order, people have to wear masks when going into public buildings and businesses.

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Microsoft Closing Physical Stores — “Microsoft Corp. is closing its physical retail stores around the world… Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) lists a total of 72 stores in the United States, with three mall locations in Greater Washington: Westfield Montgomery in Bethesda, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and Tysons Corner Center.” [Washington Business Journal]

Latest on COVID-19 Cases — “As the world topped 10 million coronavirus cases, the spread of the virus in Northern Virginia continues to stabilize, according to Sunday’s report from the Virginia Department of Health.” [Inside NoVa]

“Get It to Zero!” Campaign — “The Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which is working with local governments to coordinate the region’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, has released a new video encouraging area residents to help bring the number of positive tests to zero.” [Inside NoVa]

Battle the Beetle — “It has not yet been detected in Fairfax County, but the county government is asking local residents to be on the lookout for the Asian longhorned beetle, which has been found in other areas of the country and is very destructive to hardwood trees.” [Inside NoVa]

Metro’s Plans for Fourth of July — “Metro will run more frequent trains and extend service beyond 9 p.m. at designated stations closest to the National Mall.” [WMATA]

Silver Line Shutdown’s Impact on Tysons — “When Metrorail’s Silver Line opened in 2014, officials had high hopes for its ridership numbers. Though it ultimately did not meet those expectations, it fared better than other lines that have lost ridership since the Silver Line’s launch.” [Greater Greater Washington]

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Two weeks into Northern Virginia’s reopening under Phase 2, veterinary offices are still seeing a steady stream of the new pets in need of routine care.

“We’ve definitely noticed a lot of people adopting pets,” said Sarah Angermeier, a veterinary assistant and receptionist at the Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital. “It’s a blessing. We have so many puppies right now.”

Angermeier mentioned that appointments are filling up to a week-and-a-half in advance. 

“We book up so fast now,” she said, adding that the dogs are more rambunctious after being stuck at home for weeks. 

The Vienna Animal Hospital has also noticed similar trends. They reported that the number of appointments and the number of people adopting pets have “skyrocketed.” 

In the spring during the strictest point of the coronavirus stay-at-home order, pets were the big winners as people rushed to get stay-at-home companions. Places like Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation in Falls Church have seen a large increase in cat and dog adoptions — compared to April 2019, adoptions went up about 60% in late April of this year, according to Lost Dog.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one of the leading organizations providing guidance to veterinarian practices, precautionary strategies — like the ones in Northern Virginia — are making visits safer.

“Veterinary practices have made tremendous changes to ensure patients continue to receive essential veterinary care and new safety measures are implemented to protect team members and clients,” said the AVMA in an April 2020 survey of U. S. veterinarians.

The Vienna Animal Hospital, for example, has taken added precautionary measures such as increased sanitation; requiring masks and gloves; and making a switch to curbside appointments to decrease contact. Currently, owners are not allowed in the building.

Similarly, the Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital has been using teleconferencing to hold appointments. Owners drive their pets to the practice and wait in their cars, talking on the phone with doctors while the pets are cared for inside.

However, as of a week ago at Oakton-Vienna, one owner at a time is allowed inside the building with their pet. In addition, the practice has crews deep-cleaning the hospital.

According to the AVMA survey, other adjustments include contactless payment processing, taking patient history by phone or virtually and drive-thru pick up and drop off. About 30% of veterinary practices are using telemedicine and close to 20% of practices were only seeing emergency-related cases at the time of the survey.

The Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital began using teleconferencing on March 2. “It was definitely an adapting period,” said Angermeier. 

Cristal Wheeler, the office manager of the Animal Dental Clinic in Vienna, says that their office is also following a variety of new protocols. 

“We’ve extended our cleanup after every patient to include where clients are sitting and touching,” said Wheeler. She mentioned handles and doors are high contact surfaces that are receiving extra sanitation. 

As practices continue to pivot with the changing coronavirus pandemic, offices like Oakton-Vienna are staying focused on the mission — serving customers and taking care of pets.

“We’ve gotten thank-you notes for staying open during COVID. We’ve had a lot of really really grateful people.”

Photos via Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital/Facebook

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Hotels in the Tysons area laid off nearly 1,000 employees this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tysons Reporter found six hotels that filed notices under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). The WARN Act requires businesses with 100 or more employees to provide at least 60-day notice of a closing or layoffs affecting 50 or more employees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Here are the WARN notices that hotels filed between late March and June:

  • Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center (7901 Tysons One Place): 54 late march
  • The Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner (1700 Tysons Blvd): 344
  • Tysons Corner Marriott (8028 Leesburg Pike): 120
  • Marriott Falls Church Fairview Park (3111 Fairview Park Drive): 164
  • Embassy Suites Tysons Corner (8517 Leesburg Pike): 42
  • DoubleTree Tysons (1960 Chain Bridge Road): 57
  • Crescent Hotels & Resorts (8661 Leesburg Pike): 171

In total, 952 employees were laid off.

“Employment fell in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality. The largest job loss during April occurred in leisure and hospitality with a decline of 161,400 jobs to 240,800,” according to the Virginia Employment Commission in late May. “The largest over-the-year job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality, down 169,000 jobs (-41.2%).”

Most of the layoffs happened in March and April and were “due to COVID-19,” according to the WARN notices.

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Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that Virginia is on track to enter Phase Three next Wednesday (July 1). 

“That gives us about three and a half weeks in Phase Two, where we have been able to follow the data,” Northam said, adding that he wants people to keep wearing masks and follow guidelines to avoid recent spikes on other states.

During his press conference today, Northam and state health department officials said that Virginia is seeing a decline in cases and hospitalizations.

Phase Three guidelines will:

  • allow social gatherings with groups of 250 or less
  • lift the restrictions on non-essential retail stores
  • allow fitness centers and pools to open at 75% capacity
  • reopen child care facilities
  • restaurants may resume full capacity though people must stay six feet apart

Still, things such as overnight summer camps for kids will not be allowed, Northam said. Northam said that the “safer at home” recommendation is still in place for people who are immunocompromised, and remote work is encouraged.

Other changes include public access to online data from nursing homes and long term care facilities throughout the state, according to Northam. This data includes the number of cases and number of deaths, one of Northam’s advisers said.

“Now that there are more cases in the facilities, we can release the information without compromising the confidentiality,” he said.

To track and limit the spread of COVID-19 in care facilities, Northam also announced that $56 million will be available for testing of both residents and care-takers.

Image via Facebook Live

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People who have missed hitting the gym for the last few months are seeing options reopen.

Several gyms and yoga studios in the Tysons-area pivoted to online classes in April. Ahead of Northern Virginia starting to ease COVID-19 restrictions, some fitness center owners and clients pushed for more opportunities.

Now, fitness centers are allowed to open indoor spaces at 30% occupancy under Phase Two, which Northern Virginia entered June 12.

Fairfax County offers indoor and outdoor public swimming only for lap swimming, diving, exercise and instruction. Public pools, including community pools, are not allowed to open for recreational use.

When Virginia enters Phase Three, Gov. Ralph Northam said that pools and gyms may open at 75% capacity. The date for when Virginia will enter that phase has not been announced yet.

Just because pools and gyms can open in limited capacities doesn’t mean that they will. Some gyms, like 24 Hour Fitness in Tysons, won’t reopen at all.

We want to know how you feel about going back to the gym during the pandemic. Let us know in the poll below.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

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Treasure Shop Closing in McLean — “The Treasure Shop in McLean announced it will close after 49 years in business due to the COVID-19 situation and increasing costs. The last day is June 30.” [Patch]

Latest on COVID Cases — “The Virginia Department of Health reported 551 additional cases of the coronavirus Sunday, a lower increase after four consecutive days of new daily cases increasing. The latest cumulative totals are 57,994 cases, 5,840 hospitalizations, and 1,611 deaths.” [Patch]

Restaurant Struggling — “A longtime business in McLean seeks support to avoid closing due to the coronavirus pandemic’s financial impact. McLean Family Restaurant, a 51-year Kapetanakis family operation, made the plea to customers Wednesday on Facebook.” [Patch]

FCPS May Add Holidays to Calendar — “The Fairfax County School Board is considering a 2021-22 Standard School Year Calendar… Version A has the school year beginning on Monday, August 23, 2021, and ending on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Four religious holidays would be observed: Rosh Hashanah on September 7, 2021; Yom Kippur on September 16, 2021; Diwali on November 4, 2021; and Eid  al Fitr on May 3, 2022.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Mall Issues — “Brookfield is chasing small retailers to pay thousands of dollars in rent on outlets that were forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic, even as the Canadian investment group skips payments on its mortgages and asks lenders for forbearance… Brookfield has requested forbearance from lenders who are owed payments on a dozen of its malls, according to reports circulated to credit market participants who have bought the debt.” Brookfield operates Tysons Galleria. [Washington Business Journal]

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