Wiehle Metro Station to Close This Weekend — “Head Up! This weekend, WMATA is closing the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station for integration of Phase 2 of the Silver Line with the existing Silver Line. During the planned closure, free Metrobus shuttles will go between Wiehle-Reston East & Spring Hill Metrorail Stations” [Fairfax Connector/Twitter]
FCPS Enrollment Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels — “Fairfax County Public Schools officials reported a total of 178,595 students in classes on Sept. 30…That figure is down from 179,741 recorded in June when the 2020-21 school year ended, and is well down from the 189,010 students counted in class at the start of the 2019-20 school year.” [Sun Gazette]
A Going-Out Guide to Tysons — “This kind of place-making from scratch has become common in the Washington area…but it’s interesting to see it happening in Tysons, once defined as an ‘Edge City’ because, while it was technically located in Washington’s suburbs, large crowds commuted into Tysons in the morning, and left again at night. Now, there might just be more reasons to stay.” [The Washington Post]
How to Celebrate Another COVID Halloween — “While trick-or-treaters under 12 aren’t eligible for vaccine yet, this fun tradition can be done safely if families keep activities outdoors, wear a cloth or surgical mask (don’t rely on a costume mask to protect you), avoid crowded doorsteps, and wash hands before eating candy.” [Fairfax County Health Department]
Local Health Startup Has Big Plans — “Kinometrix Inc., a Fairfax County startup whose software help hospitals prevent patient falls, is making some big changes and kicking off a funding round to expand nationally. The company, originally part of Inova Health System’s accelerator until that program shut down in late 2019, is shooting to raise at least $3 million.” [Washington Business Journal]
Drug Take Back Day Is Tomorrow — The Fairfax County Police Department will collected unused and expired prescription drugs tomorrow (Saturday) for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which comes twice a year. Collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the county’s police district stations, including in McLean, and Reston Hospital Center. [Patch]
Metro Service Cutbacks Continue — “Reduced Metrorail service is expected to continue until at least Sunday, October 24, as the investigation into the October 12 derailment continues. Beginning tomorrow, trains will operate every 15 minutes on the Red Line and will continue to operate every 30 minutes on all other lines. Silver Line trains will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW only.” [WMATA]
What to Know About COVID-19 Boosters and Vaccines for Kids — More than 45,000 Fairfax Health District residents have gotten an additional or booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Fairfax County Health Department says it is “actively planning and preparing for the authorization of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses and vaccinations for children ages 5-11.” [FCHD]
Capital Bikeshare Changes Prices — The D.C. area bicycle-sharing system raised rental prices for non-members on Oct. 1, dropping a flat $2 fee for 30-minute rides in favor of charging 5 cents per minute and a $1 “unlocking fee.” Officials say the changes will help cover increasing operational and maintenance costs as well as future improvements and expansion plans. [The Washington Post]
Local Environmentalist Dies — “McLean resident Debra Ann Jacobson, a lawyer, investigator for Congress and ardent environmentalist, died Sept. 15 at her McLean home. She was 69 and died from complications of liver cancer, her family said. ‘Debra was a champion for the environment and someone who inspired those who were fortunate enough to know her,’ said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville).” [Sun Gazette]
Vienna Family Raises Funds for Child After Stroke — Vienna residents Tom and Paige Shahryary will hold their second annual James’s Promise Run at Nottoway Park on Nov. 7 to raise money for their now-2-year-old son, James, who suffered a stroke after he was born in August 2019. The family also has a GoFundMe page to raise funds for medical treatments and therapies. [Patch]
Vienna to Give Away Native Tree Seedlings — “Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Find out why and pick up a free native tree seedling this Saturday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center. Town arborist Scott Diffenderfer will be on hand to answer your questions about trees.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
(Updated at 4:55 p.m. on 10/13/2021) Fairfax County has partnered with the Tysons-based nonprofit Second Story to support COVID-19 vaccinations in the Culmore area of Falls Church tomorrow (Thursday).
Announced on Monday (Oct. 11), the vaccine distribution site is part of a fall festival that Second Story has organized with the county health department and Neighborhood and Community Services.
The vaccinations will be administered by the nonprofit Neighborhood Health, which will also return in three weeks to deliver second doses to those who need them.
The fall festival will take place at Second Story’s Culmore Family Resource Center (3304B Culmore Court) from 2-6 p.m. There will be food, music, crafts, and other community resources at the event in addition to the vaccination clinic.
“Part of the reason that this community is not entirely vaccinated is because they have trouble accessing a vaccination site,” Second Story spokesperson Abigail Brougher said. “…We wanted to make sure that the vaccine is accessible for them, so when they come to this event, there will be people right there able to give them the vaccine.”
This is the second time that Second Story has gotten involved in the county’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign after it hosted a similar site at a Hispanic Heritage Month Festival in Springfield earlier this month.
That event also offered the flu shot and other inoculations, according to Brougher.
(Correction: This article previously stated that 25 individuals were vaccinated at the Springfield festival. Second Story did vaccinate 25 people in one day about two weeks ago, but it was a separate community outreach effort. The nonprofit doesn’t have numbers for how many people got the COVID-19 vaccine at the Hispanic Heritage Festival.)
Dedicated to providing basic needs assistance, counseling, and other services to teenagers, young adults, and families, Second Story works directly with some of the community members who have been most affected by the pandemic from health and economic standpoints.
Some clients have contracted COVID-19, leading them to get sick or miss work, which can be devastating for young people just trying to make ends meet. In addition, many are ineligible for unemployment benefits and other supports, Brougher says.
As a result, Second Story has been offering rental assistance and meals throughout the pandemic. It’s still providing food to approximately 1,050 families every month through distribution sites, drop-offs, and programs, such as the after-school services that have started to meet in person again.
“We’ve been doing a lot of meetings virtually — family counseling, individual counseling, catching up with youth — and trying to just continue to provide some of those basic needs as we always have…food and clothes in addition to the bigger supports we provide,” Brougher said.
Even so, the nonprofit has encountered some vaccine hesitancy within the communities it serves.
There are a variety of factors behind that hesitancy, from wariness of the side effects and misinformation to the challenges of getting to a vaccination site without a car or the flexibility to take time off work, according to Soraya Borja, Second Story’s vice president of community-based services.
Taking place shortly before its annual Beacon of Hope fundraiser, which has been moved online for a second year, tomorrow’s fall festival is part of Second Story’s effort to reduce barriers to vaccination for its clients.
Its staff has distributed 200 flyers advertising the event throughout the community.
“This outreach has been really important to us, getting out into the community, getting face-to-face,” Brougher said. “We’re definitely a trusted face in the community, so if we’re able to instill some of that trust in the community that the vaccine is something they can feel comfortable with, we are eager to be able to do that.”
Photo courtesy Second Story/Facebook
The tents and patios for outdoor dining that have popped up in shopping center parking lots around Vienna could be here to stay.
Under a zoning ordinance amendment proposed by town staff, restaurants would be able to obtain a permit for outdoor dining through an administrative review instead of the existing conditional use permit process, which involves a planning commission review, approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals, and a $1,500 fee.
The change will help restaurants not just by speeding up the process, but also by giving them the security to invest in more durable tents, seating, heaters, and other equipment, Vienna Business Association President Peggy James says.
“I think this will be key to business and restaurant survival,” James said, noting that while indoor dining has picked up recently, many people likely won’t feel comfortable eating inside in public for a long time.
The Vienna Town Council first approved the current emergency ordinance waiving certain regulations on outdoor commercial activities on June 1, 2020.
The ordinance has been extended several times since, but after Gov. Ralph Northam let Virginia’s state of emergency expire on June 30, the town won’t be able to keep the measure in place past its Dec. 30 end date.
Vienna has approved outdoor dining set-ups for 22 restaurants during the pandemic, according to town staff.
While the emergency ordinance included other activities, the proposed zoning ordinance amendment is specifically for outdoor dining. It will let restaurants serve diners at ground level outside their building with the following conditions:
1. Outdoor dining may only be allowed with issuance of a permit after plans showing proposed dining are submitted to the Zoning Administrator for review.
a. To-scale plans shall show location of any outdoor dining furniture or structures.
b. All permanent structures and permanent exterior modifications shall be subject to review by the Board of Architectural Review. Permanent changes may also be subject to Site Plan Control Provisions under Article 25.
2. Outdoor dining furniture and equipment cannot block pedestrian access or interfere with ADA accessible routes to and from buildings and public facilities.
3. Outdoor dining area must be clearly delineated by cordon, marking, or other means and must be protected from vehicular traffic to the extent possible.
4. Parking spaces located directly outside a restaurant may be used for outdoor dining with a temporary permit to be reviewed and issued annually by the Zoning Administrator. Such use of parking spaces are subject to the following conditions:
a. No more than 20% of the required off-street parking for a restaurant may be utilized for outdoor dining. Additional spaces may be allocated for restaurants located with buildings developed under Sections 18-87.4 and 18-87.5 after review by the Zoning Administrator.
b. Outdoor dining cannot be located in any designated fire lanes.
c. Only non-permanent structures, such as tents, are allowed to take up said parking spaces and parking spaces must be able to be easily converted back to be used for parking.
d. No ADA accessible parking spaces may be used for outdoor dining
The town council is scheduled to request a Nov. 15 public hearing on the proposed amendment when it meets tonight (Monday).
(Updated 1:10 p.m.) The mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Tysons Corner Center will reopen on Friday, the Fairfax County Health Department announced this morning (Tuesday).
The possibility that the community vaccination center (CVC) could return was first publicly raised during a Board of Supervisors health and human services committee meeting on Sept. 21, when county health officials discussed plans to accommodate the anticipated expansion of eligibility for booster shots.
Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine became widely available in Fairfax County last Tuesday (Sept. 28) after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines recommending them for:
- people 65 and older
- residents of long-term care facilities
- people 50-64 years old who have underlying medical conditions
- people 18-49 years old with underlying medical conditions that may make them more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19
- people 18-64 years old who are at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure or infection due to their job, including teachers, first responders, and grocery store workers
With the capacity to vaccinate up to 3,000 people a day, the Tysons CVC will once again be located in the mall’s former Lord & Taylor store (7950 Tysons Corner Center). It will be offer first and second of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as well as third doses of the Pfizer vaccine for those who are eligible.
Organized by the Virginia Department of Health and operated by contractors AshBritt Inc. and IEM Health, the site “is being re-established to increase the number of high-throughput locations administering the COVID-19 vaccine across Virginia,” the county health department says.
Colin Brody, the mass vaccination branch director for the FCHD’s COVID-19 response, said in a statement that the county is grateful to VDH and its partners for reopening the Tysons CVC.
“This brings another mass vaccination site to the Fairfax Health District, allowing hundreds of individuals who are interested in receiving a booster, additional dose, or part of their primary series an opportunity to get vaccinated each day,” Brody said by email. “We know that as members of our community become eligible for booster doses, and as we look towards the authorization of vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, having another high-throughput site in Fairfax will greatly benefit our community.”
Tysons Corner Center previously hosted the clinic from April 20 through June 26 when COVID-19 vaccines first became available to all adults. In that month, the site vaccinated 27,212 people, administering a total of 50,956 doses, according to VDH.
The CVC will operate from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. People seeking a second or third dose willl be asked to present their vaccination card with the dates of their previous doses.
Walk-ins will be permitted, but the FCHD is encouraging people to make appointments through Vaccinate Virginia, which can also be used to request a copy of COVID-19 vaccination records.
“CVC sites are intended to augment opportunities for vaccination, adding another site to those operated by local health departments, pharmacies, healthcare providers and healthcare facilities,” the FCHD said in its blog post.
Virginia Prepares to Vaccinate Kids Against COVID-19 — “Northam said during a news conference that the state Department of Health is working with local school divisions and superintendents to roll out the vaccines as soon as they are available and that administering shots in schools would be equitable and efficient. The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be approved for children ages 5-11 in late October or early November.” [Inside NoVA]
Fairfax County Schools Vandalized for TikTok Trend — Falls Church High School and Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly are casualties of the social media site’s “devious licks” challenge, which involves students vandalizing school property, often bathrooms. A Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson said discipline has been and will be taken in response to the damage. [WTOP]
County Fire and Rescue Recruits GMU to Save Honeybees — “Recently, a honeybee hive was discovered at #FCFRD USAR Training site. Instead of killing the bees, George Mason University was contacted to see if they knew of an option to facilitate a relocation. The Honeybee Initiative at GMU came out and relocated the hive! A future without bees would really sting! Great to BEE a part of a positive solution!” [FCFRD/Facebook]
Longtime Vienna Jewelry Store Celebrates Reopening — Achikian Goldsmiths, a jewelry store that has operated in the Town of Vienna since 1990, will hold a grand opening celebration to mark its relocation to 110 Pleasant Street NW. Starting at 5 p.m. today (Tuesday), the ceremony will include a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Linda Colbert and a “diamond giveaway,” according to signs on the storefront.
Tysons Corner Center could potentially host another mass COVID-19 vaccination site if booster shots get approved for a broader population, local and state health officials say.
Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu told the Board of Supervisors during its health and human services committee meeting this morning (Tuesday) that the county and Virginia health departments are working together to establish a Community Vaccination Center (CVC) “at the Tysons location.”
The Fairfax County Health Department confirmed that “planning is ongoing” to revive the large-scale clinic that the Virginia Department of Health and Department of Emergency Management opened earlier this year in Tysons Corner Center’s former Lord & Taylor store.
“As with mass vaccination sites operated by the Fairfax County Health Department, the CVC would provide first, second, and third doses to anyone who is eligible based on [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and VDH clinical guidelines,” county health department spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said in a statement.
Fairfax County currently offers third shots of the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to people whose immune system is compromised by a medical condition or certain medications and treatments, making them more vulnerable to severe illness if they contract the virus.
The county doesn’t have numbers yet on how many people in the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, have gotten a booster shot.
“FCHD is waiting on additional data to become available from VDH to determine the number of Fairfax Health District residents who have received an additional dose,” Caldwell said.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted on Friday (Sept. 17) to recommend approval of booster shots for individuals who are 65 and older, people at risk of severe illness if they’re infected, and people whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure, including healthcare workers and teachers.
However, the committee voted decidedly against recommending a booster shot for everyone 16 and older as proposed by President Joe Biden’s administration, citing a need to see more safety data, particularly on heart inflammation issues that have been reported in some younger people after getting the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The CDC’s independent advisory committee is scheduled to discuss whether to recommend authorizing booster shots when it meets tomorrow (Wednesday). Virginia and Fairfax County officials have said they’re working with pharmacies, hospitals, and other partners to plan for the possibility of expanding the availability of third vaccine doses.
Bringing back the Tysons CVC and other mass vaccination sites is one of many options currently under consideration, the Virginia Department of Health says.
“The FDA and CDC need to make their decisions before VDH can finalize its plans,” VDH spokesperson Cindy Clayton said by email. “We have been planning for several scenarios and will be able to share more information when we know more.”
Virginia opened the Tysons CVC on April 20 in conjunction with Fairfax County opening up COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults for the first time. Enabling the county to eliminate its registration waitlist, the site had the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 people per day.
The center closed on June 26 as state and local officials shifted their attention to smaller, more mobile clinics intended to target specific pockets of people who were still unvaccinated due to hesitancy or access issues.
During the Tysons mass vaccine site’s one month of operations, VDH administered 27,212 first doses and 50,956 doses overall, according to the department’s data team.
Because the COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available now from a variety of providers, including pharmacies and private health practices, Fairfax County doesn’t anticipate encountering the supply constraints for booster shots that hampered its initial vaccine rollout.
“Given that there will be ample vaccine this time around to meet demand, we are confident that people will have access, and then, through our outreach efforts, we will make sure that our equity clinics continue,” Addo-Ayensu said at today’s Board of Supervisors committee meeting.
Even as the discussion around booster shots heats up, many county residents have yet to get their first vaccine dose.
Almost 400,000 people in Fairfax County remain unvaccinated, including about 195,000 children under the age of 12, who remain ineligible, Addo-Ayensu told the board.
According to the FCHD dashboard, 811,922 Fairfax Health District residents — 68.6% of the total population — have received at least one vaccine dose, including 81.1% of adults 18 and older. 737,467 residents — 74% of adults and 62.3% of the overall population — are considered fully vaccinated.
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Former Container Store Gets New Name — The former Container Store at 8508 Leesburg Pike has been dubbed The PARC (People, Art, Recreation, and Community) as Fairfax County, the Tysons Partnership, and Celebrate Fairfax Inc. turn the vacant site into a community events venue. Determined by a social media poll, the name was announced on Friday (Sept. 17) at Celebrate Fairfax’s Tysons Block Party. [Celebrate Fairfax/Twitter]
County to Use Mobile COVID-19 Testing Lab — “The Fairfax County Health Department is deploying its mobile laboratory to provide COVID-19 testing in several locations starting Tuesday, Sept. 21. These mobile testing opportunities are for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19.” [FCHD]
Tysons Corner Nordstrom Robbed — A man entered the Nordstrom in Tysons Corner Center (8075 Tyson Corner Center) at 5:22 p.m. on Sept. 11 and took merchandise while assaulting an employee. Three days later, the store was robbed again at 11:17 a.m. by a man who took merchandise and implied he had a weapon as he exited the store. No injuries were reported in either incident. [FCPD]
See New Scotts Run Fire Station — Fairfax County leaders celebrated the opening of the new Scotts Run Fire Station 44 at 1766 Old Meadow Lane with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday (Sept. 18). Community members can get a glimpse inside the station, which became operational on Aug. 14, with a virtual tour led by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Lt. Payne. [FCFRD/YouTube]
Police Officers Recognized at Cultural Festival — “Yesterday, our officers participated in the Korean American Festival, KORUS, at Tysons Corner Center. Several of our Korean American officers were recognized for their contributions to our community.” [FCPD/Twitter]
School Boundary Policy Meeting Tonight — Consultants hired by Fairfax County Public Schools will share information about their review of the district’s boundary policy at a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. today (Monday). Requested by the school board in 2019, the review focuses on what factors should be considered when making boundary changes, rather than the boundaries for specific schools. Register online to get the meeting link. [Dranesville District School Board Member Elaine Tholen]
After taking last year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the KORUS Festival will return to Tysons Corner Center this weekend with an expanded scope that is expected to include acknowledgements of local first responders and the nationwide rise in hate crimes, particularly those against Asian people.
Now in its 18th year, the KORUS Festival is put on annually by the Korean American Association of Greater Washington (KAGW) as a celebration of the local Korean American community. Organizers say it’s the largest cultural festival by a single ethnic group in the D.C. region.
This year’s festival will be held in the Bloomingdale’s parking lot at 8100 Tysons Corner Center from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 18) and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 19). A Maryland version of the event is scheduled for Sept. 25-26 at Westfield Montgomery Mall.
The free festival will feature food and retail vendors, games, a beer garden, a kids’ zone, and live performances, including taekwondo demonstrations and musicians ranging in genre from K-pop to Caribbean jazz.
Anna Ko, the festival’s stage and performances director, says COVID-19 health protocols will include temperature checks and a mask requirement for people who aren’t fully vaccinated.
“We are providing hand sanitizers, masks, first aid stations as well as a mandatory temperature check for all attendees,” Ko said. “The safety and the health of the public will be of top priority. If you are not vaccinated, please wear masks at all time.”
While KAGW remains the main organizer, the association decided to broaden the festival’s focus this year by partnering with community nonprofits, including Celebrate Fairfax and the Asian American Chamber of Commerce.
Ko says the event will also serve as a platform to show appreciation for first responders involved in Fairfax County’s pandemic response and to raise awareness about the need to combat anti-Asian hate crimes.
“KORUS is the ONLY event at this capacity by an ethnic group, Korean Americans,” KAGW President Steve Lee wrote in an email. “We have opened the door to ALL diversity to get to know each other and others better to fight against Asian hate and any hate issues.”
According to Ko, county officials plan to award COVID-19 first responder teams on stage when they’re scheduled to appear at 5 p.m. on Saturday. State legislators will be present as well.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay has been invited to present the recognition, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, whose district includes Tysons.
The KORUS Festival’s prominence reflects the increased visibility of the D.C. region’s Asian American communities, which have grown over the past couple of decades.
Released in August, demographic data from the 2020 Census showed that Asian residents now make up 20.3% of Fairfax County’s total population — up from 17.4% in 2010 and 13.1% in 2000 — contributing to the county’s new status as a majority-minority county.
However, the county has not been immune from the uptick in discrimination against Asians that has been seen across the U.S. during the pandemic, as illustrated in March when a student reported being harassed with anti-Asian slurs at Longfellow Middle School in McLean.
Bias crime and incident reports have increased in each of the past three years, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. The clear majority of cases have involved anti-Black discrimination, but the number of anti-Asian incidents went from six in 2019 to nine in 2020.
“Hate crime is an issue in many places of our United States,” Ko said by email. “We are trying to change it in our area through this multi-cultural event, so we all can be united as one America and better America.”
Health Department Tweaks Approach to Quarantined Students — Starting today (Thursday), students who have been exposed to COVID-19 can complete wellness checks and get guidance from the Fairfax County Health Department online instead of having to wait for a phone call. The change is part of an ongoing effort to speed up the contact-tracing and quarantining processes so students can return to school buildings. [FCHD]
Local Arts Groups See Bright Spots Amid Upheaval — “Fairfax County’s art scene is under-funded, under-capacity and still weathering the pandemic, but several upcoming projects will bring it closer to its potential, the president of ArtsFairfax said. The county’s prospects are changing more quickly than at any other point in her 12 years with the organization, Linda Sullivan told the Greater Tysons Citizens Coalition during a Sept. 9 roundtable.” [Sun Gazette]
Vienna Schedules Meeting on Economic Strategy — The Town of Vienna will hold a public meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 for residents to discuss a draft economic development report that looks at how the town could more effectively attract and support businesses. The town hired a consultant in January to conduct a market study and propose an economic development strategy that were released in June. [Patch]
Italian Bakery Sets Tysons Corner Grand Opening — “Handcrafted Italian pastry is coming to Tysons Corner Center! Celebrate the Grand Opening of DreamStart Winner Bisnonna Bakeshop on Saturday, 09/18 with family-friendly activities starting at 10am” [Tysons Corner Center/Twitter]