Tysons, VA

(Updated 7 p.m.) Gov. Ralph Northam has been hosting live-streamed briefings during recent weeks to provide updates on the coronavirus. But today (Thursday), he answered questions on Twitter.

Using #AskGovNortham, people tweeted concerns about personal protective equipment (PPE), claiming unemployment benefits and if Virginians will need documentation for destinations when traveling.

Tysons Reporter has compiled some of the information from the governor’s thread:

On Monday, Northam issued a stay-at-home order for Virginia today as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state continues to climb.

The order, which went into effect immediately and will last until June 10, lets people leave their homes for essential services — including medical care, food, supplies, work and more — and social-distanced outdoor activities that do not involve gatherings larger than 10 people.

In mid-March, local public health officials said they found evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in Northern Virginia.

As of Thursday, there are 1,706 confirmed cases and 41 deaths statewide, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church and towns in the county, reported 328 COVID-19 cases on Thursday. Five people have died from the novel coronavirus in Fairfax County.

On Wednesday, Northam said that Virginia will likely see “a surge in the number of people who test positive between late April and late May.”

Image via Ralph Northam/Twitter

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Roughly a week after Bear Branch Tavern (133 E. Maple Avenue) decided to temporarily close, the restaurant will now reopen for carryout today (April 2).

While it is unclear why owners didn’t announce intentions to reopen for takeout along with the location’s temporary closure, co-owner Chris Lefbom said on Facebook that the restaurant will begin taking orders at 4 p.m. this evening.

The eatery will be taking extra precautions to protect customers and staff, including sanitizing its public spaces, implementing an online ordering system and patio pickup and having contact-free transactions, according to Bear Branch Tavern’s Facebook page.

Takeout will be available Monday-Friday from 4-9 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., the Facebook page said.

Previously, the owners set up a GoFundMe for its employees who were previously out of work.

Tysons Reporter reached out for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

Photo via Bear Branch Tavern/Facebook

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Fairfax County has now surpassed 300 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

As of today (Thursday), there are now 328 cases in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church and towns in the county, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Five people have died due to the novel coronavirus in the county.

The number of cases has continued to climb over the last several days — likely due to expanded testing capacity. In mid-March, local public health officials said they found evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in Northern Virginia.

Arlington has the second-most confirmed cases in the state with 128 cases. Statewide, there are 1,706 confirmed cases and 41 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

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As COVID-19 continues to cause major economic disturbances across the country, Visit Fairfax has a new program to support local businesses and people impacted by the pandemic.

Fairfax County is heavily reliant on tourism and visitors for conferences. While Visit Fairfax’s president Barry Biggar told Tysons Reporter that he uncertain how much the Tysons area economy will hurt, he said the organization is working to combat some of the economic downturn.

Biggar said restrictions on non-essential businesses coupled with the economic downturn have had “devastating” consequences for local businesses, services and eateries in the last three weeks.

While many restaurants are trying to pivot by offering delivery, curbside pickup and delivery, some have temporarily closed. Biggar said that he expects many won’t reopen.

Visit Fairfax staffers are trying to help coordinate tools for the community through the “Fairfax First” program, he said.

The program is a collection of tools, lists and opportunities that residents can take advantage of to support themselves and others during this turbulent time, according to the website. It includes fun things to do while at home, virtual tours of popular attractions, mental health resources and ways to support local businesses.

Visit Fairfax is also promoting “Virginia Is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week,” which runs from March 30-April 5.

“Virginians are encouraged to order takeout, delivery or curbside pickup from local restaurants and to use the hashtag #VirginiaEatsLocal to spread the word,” according to Visit Fairfax’s website.

Last year around this time, hotels in the area were at or above 70% capacity, according to Biggar, who added that now they are at or below 18%.

Around Virginia, he said more than 24,000 people in the service industry have lost their jobs permanently due to staffing cuts.

Along with other resources, Visit Fairfax coordinated with local hotels to help first responders find a list of steeply discounted rooms that will put them up if they are either self-isolating away from their families or need another place to rest, according to Biggar.

Around Tysons, these include The Ritz-Carlton at Tysons CornerHilton McLean and The Westin Tysons Corner, according to Visit Fairfax. Rates vary, but first responders can call the hotels directly to inquire.

As the pandemic continues in Fairfax County without any sign of slowing, Biggar said that he can’t make a judgment yet about how this will affect the economic well being of the area going forward, but does predict an eventual rise in domestic travel around the third and fourth quarters later this year.

Though things are “changing every day,” Biggar said he wants people to “start thinking and dreaming about what you want to do when this is over” in terms of vacations and getaways to boost the economy again.

Photo courtesy James B. Crusan III

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Three more people in the Fairfax Health District have died due to the novel coronavirus, the Fairfax County Health Department reported today (Wednesday).

All three men were hospitalized as a result of the illness, bringing the total number of deaths in the district to five.

“We are saddened by these additional deaths in our community caused by COVID-19,” said Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu , the health department’s director. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones. 

The men were in their 60s, 80s, and 90s.

As of today, there are 288 confirmed COVID-19 cases — up from 245 cases yesterday — in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church and towns in the county. The number has been steadily increasing over the last several days.

“This is a reminder that we have to be diligent in doing our part to slow the spread of virus in our community. Please remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often, cover your coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face, stay home if you are sick, and abide by Governor Ralph Northam’s ‘stay at home’ order,” Addo-Ayensu said.

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Editor’s note: Tysons Reporter will temporarily have “Morning Notes” every weekday instead of twice a week to accommodate more news.

Tysons-Based Gannett Furloughs Employees, Cuts Pay — “Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert said that the company will ask staff to make a ‘collective sacrifice’ to keep the mass-media holding company intact amid the crisis by cutting pay ‘as soon as this week.’… Many staffers will be furloughed for five days a month through June.” [The Daily Beast]

Communications Firm in Tysons Files for Bankruptcy — “According OneWeb, the company had a difficult time securing funding in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The firm expanded its presence in Tysons back in 2018. [Axios, Washington Business Journal]

Fairfax County Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19 — “On March 30, 2020, an inmate in his 20’s at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center (ADC) tested positive for COVID-19. He has been incarcerated since January 29, 2020 and is now in isolation at the ADC.” [Fairfax County]

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Fairfax County.

According to statistics released by the Virginia Department of Health today (Sunday), there are now 187 cases in the county, up from 124 cases on Friday.

While the latest spike is indicative of increased testing by commercial labs, local health officials say there is evidence of community-wide spread of the illness.

The case numbers will continue to increase, but we do have some control over how fast that increase occurs and how high it goes,” the county stated.

Arlington has the second-most confirmed cases (84) in the state, followed by 61 in Loudoun County.

In the county, two people have died from the respiratory disease, including a man in his 60s who died on Friday.

So far, residents between the age brackets of 18-49 and 50-64 have gotten ill at the same rates (16.1 percent each), while people age 65 and older comprise 21.4 percent of the total confirmed cases.

Overall, there are 890 confirmed cases and 22 deaths statewide, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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An employee at an affordable senior living facility in Tysons has tested positive for COVID-19, according to memos from the building’s management.

Managed by Polinger, Tysons Towers Apartments (8500 Tyspring Street) offers a federally-assisted rental program for people ages 62 and older and people with disabilities.

Tysons Reporter obtained copies of two memos signed with the name of a Polinger employee.

A memo dated Thursday (March 26) says that a Tysons Towers employee went to the hospital with coronavirus symptoms, later receiving a positive test result for the virus on Thursday.

An earlier memo says that the building management can’t provide more information on the case, citing HIPAA laws.

The employee was last in the senior living facility’s community on Friday, March 20, according to the memos.

“At this time, we have closed the Management Office and have sent all employees home until further notice,” the most recent memo says, adding that half of the staff was sent home on Monday (March 23).

The memo says that the building received a deep cleaning earlier this week, cleaning of common areas has since increased in the building and visitors are being screened with a questionnaire.

The memo includes information on preventing the spread of the virus — like reminding people to wash their hands and social distance.

The Polinger employee who signed the memo did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Health Department declined to comment on the Tysons Towers case.

“We currently have 124 cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County, including 44 cases new cases that were reported today,” John Silcox, the spokesperson, said. “As our numbers increase, we won’t have information on every new case in the community.”

As for cases in assisted living facilities or skilled nursing facilities in general, Silcox said that the health department works with the building’s management on infection control policies.

“These include isolating all residents who have symptoms of illness; restricting congregating and eliminating gatherings; screening of staff for symptoms at the beginning of each shift; discouraging cross-facility employment; guiding appropriate use of personal protection equipment (PPE); providing guidance on enhanced cleaning practices; and implementing visitor restrictions,” he said.

Image via Google Maps

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A man in his 60s is the second person to die from complications from COVID-19 in the Fairfax County, according to officials.

The Fairfax County Health Department announced Friday evening that the man acquired COVID-19 through travel and later tested positive for the virus.

“This is a tragic loss and our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, the health department’s director, said in the announcement.

On Saturday, the county announced that a man in his 60s, who got sick through contact with a another coronavirus person, was the county’s first COVID-19 death, WJLA reported.

Earlier today (Friday), the number of known COVID-19 cases jumped to 124 in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church and towns in the county.

Expanding testing capacity in the state could explain the increase in confirmed cases.

Inova Urgent Care locations in Chantille, Arlington and Tysons recently turned into respiratory illness clinics that offer the test.

“This most recent death, along with the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases we are seeing, is a reminder that we all need to be diligent in doing our part to help slow the spread of virus in the community,” Addo-Ayensu said.

“Please continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands and avoid touching your face, and stay home when you are sick,” she said.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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Noticed normally busy public spaces that are now empty or store closures in the Tysons area? Send them to Tysons Reporter.

We’re looking for your photos of what it’s like to live or work in Tysons, Vienna, McLean, Falls Church or Merrifield during the coronavirus. What does it look like to social distance in an urban area?

Whether you snap pictures on a professional camera or your smartphone, we are always interested in sharing your photos (with credit to you!) in our Morning Notes on weekdays or on social media.

The best way to send photos is to email us at [email protected] or tag/direct message us on our social media accounts (InstagramTwitter and Facebook).

 Thank you to the photographers who have already sent us photos!
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