Tysons, VA

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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Editor’s note: Starting March 24, Tysons Reporter will have “Morning Notes” every weekday instead of twice a week to accommodate more news.

Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:

Virginia ABC Reducing Store Hours Friday — “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority announced Tuesday that all of its 388 stores will be open only from noon to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Stores in the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson and Williamsburg, and the counties of James City and York had already been operating on the reduced schedule.” [Inside NoVa]

Fundraiser for Supplies to Sew Masks — A group of local sewing volunteers is looking for monetary donations. “We are guided by hospital directions, and friends and family in the healthcare industry, and we have organized sewing volunteers in the Falls Church, Virginia area.” [GoFundMe]

Fairfax County Gets an “A” For Social Distancing — “On Tuesday, a company called Unacast that collects and analyzes phone GPS location data launched a “Social Distancing Scoreboard” that grades, county by county, which residents are changing behavior at the urging of health officials.” Fairfax County gets an “A,” according to the data. [Washington Post]

Lights Out? — “On the electricity generation side, power plants are still humming and Dominion says procedures are in place to ensure employee safety and continuity.” [ARLnow]

Falls Church Burglary Under Investigation — “Fairfax police are investigating a burglary reported early Monday at the Millennium Care Pharmacy in Falls Church. The incident follows 10 reported break-ins at pharmacies and medical offices between Fairfax and Prince William counties this month.” [Inside NoVa]

Polling Station Moves in Vienna — “The Board also approved a permanent relocation of the polling place for the Nottoway Precinct. This polling place will move from the Hunter House at Nottoway Park, 9601 Courthouse Road, Vienna, to the Marshall Road Elementary School, 730 Marshall Road Southwest, Vienna. The school provides a more accessible and convenient facility for the more than 3,800 registered voters in this precinct.” [Fairfax County]

Metro Closure Prompts Fairfax Connector Changes — “Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) announces that due to the temporary closure of the Mclean and Van Dorn Metrorail Stations beginning Thursday, March 26, 2020, Fairfax Connector bus routes that serve those stations will be re-routed to serve open Metrorail stations.” [Fairfax County]

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved today (Tuesday) giving taxpayers more time to file and pay their taxes.

Now, individuals and businesses in the county will have until June 1 to file their personal property tax returns. Additionally, the first half of payments for real estate taxes won’t be due until Aug. 8.

“Both these resolutions are intended to alleviate the negative impact threatened by the potential spread of COVID-19,” according to county documents.

“I’ve been asked a lot about this since a lot of folks in the county have found themselves without paychecks,” Chairman Jeff McKay said.

McKay said that people won’t accrue late fees for following the new deadlines.

By pushing the deadlines, the county will likely be delayed in receiving tax revenue, according to the county. However, county staff said that the benefits to the community by pushing the deadlines outweighs potential impacts on revenue.

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Local public health officials have found evidence that COVID-19 is now being spread via community transmission in Northern Virginia, according to a county press release.

As of today (Thursday), there are 16 presumptive cases in the Fairfax Health District, which also covers the City of Fairfax, the City of Falls Church and towns within the county, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community transmission refers to when the spread of illness is linked to unknown sources.

“Community transmission, or ‘community spread,’ is defined by the CDC as a ‘spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown,'” according to a City of Falls Church press release.

Initial cases of the respiratory disease in the county were first linked to local residents who had contact with North Carolina residents with coronavirus. Two cases were linked to the Reston-based headquarters of the U.S. Geological Survey, according to a recent Reston Now exclusive.

Local officials continue to urge residents to practice social distancing as much as possible. Social distancing involves increasing the distance between people to avoid spreading the illness. Health officials say that staying at least six feet away from other people lessens the chances of catching COVID-19.

In roughly 10 days, the number of presumptive county cases has jumped from two to 16.

Data via Virginia Department of Health

This story also appeared on our sister site Reston Now

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(Updated 4:55 p.m.) Drive-thru coronavirus testing sites are starting to pop up around the U.S. to screen patients for the virus.

Fairfax County doesn’t have any plans at the moment to open a drive-through testing site, Ali Althen, a spokesperson for Fairfax County, told Tysons Reporter yesterday.

“The decision to open sites would likely be made by the medical community and not the county government,” Althen said.

Earlier this week, Arlington County and Virginia Hospital teamed up for a drive-thru testing site to cut down on the number of people trying to get tested at hospitals and doctor’s offices.

“Arlington residents, county and school system employees and Virginia Hospital Center patients, who are experiencing symptoms consistent with coronavirus and have a written order from a healthcare provider, will be eligible for testing,” ARLnow reported.

While Fairfax County hasn’t teamed up with the hospital, there is a testing site atop the parking garage outside Kaiser Permanente’s facility in Tysons, WTOP reported.

“Kaiser has set up five different sites across the region for members with a doctor’s prescription for testing,” WTOP reported. “The health maintenance organization has testing sites in Baltimore, Largo, Gaithersburg, Tysons Corner and Woodbridge.”

As of Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 77 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, with 14 in Fairfax County.

If the county does decide to open drive-thru sites, it would let people know “across our channels to help members of the public find and make use of those sites as necessary and appropriate,” Althen said.

On Thursday afternoon, Fairfax County released more information about testing sites:

Up until recently, COVID-19 testing was only available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state laboratories, with local health departments like ours helping to coordinate and facilitate those tests based on very specific testing criteria. Now that we have commercial laboratories testing capability, physicians have wider latitude to order testing.

Still, several challenges have limited testing for Fairfax County residents:

  1. With shortages of personal protective equipment across the nation, health care providers who lack recommended protective equipment may not test because of the risk to their health and ability to continue providing care in the community.
  2. The materials needed for specimen collection before being sent to the lab are in limited supply nationwide.

The Health Department does not evaluate patients or collect specimens for commercial testing because these functions are best performed by primary care providers, urgent care centers or Emergency Departments where a complete medical evaluation, radiology, and other types of laboratory testing are available.

Let us know what you think of the coronavirus drive-thru sites in the poll below.

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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More and more states are ordering eateries and entertainment venues to close or switch to delivery and take-out only to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

When the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to declare a local emergency earlier this morning, several supervisors mentioned how the county has limited authority to plan restrictions on eating establishments.

“We don’t have as much authority as people think we do,” Vice-Chair Penny Gross said. “We’re also at the mercy of the governor.”

A few days ago, D.C.’s mayor imposed new restrictions on restaurants and bars, prohibiting table seating and allowing them to offer delivery or take-out options. The restrictions also force nightclubs, theaters and health clubs to close for at least two weeks.

Municipalities have limited authority to take action because Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, Arlington Magazine reported, adding that Gov. Ralph Northam could issue a statewide declaration similar to Maryland’s.

Northam said this morning that the state will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to prevent gatherings of 10 or more people, but that he does not plan to place restrictions on restaurants, WHSV reported.

Northam is “asking them to abide by the ‘rule of 10’ and… encouraging them to focus on delivery and takeout options, instead of in-house dining,” according to WHSV.

“At least 20 states have ordered that their restaurants and bars close to in-person diners amid the coronavirus pandemic,” The Hill reported earlier today.

The limited authority didn’t stop neighboring Arlington County to plead with restaurants and bars to “take responsible action and switch from dine-in service to only offering carryout and delivery.”

While the statement noted that Arlington County does not have the legal authority to force the changes, it said that COVID-19 cases could overwhelm Arlington if restaurants don’t limit community contact.

As of Monday, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County — a number that officials say is expected to grow.

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Sitting several feet apart, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted today (Tuesday) to declare a local state of emergency due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The declaration activates the county’s emergency plan and allows the county to expeditiously mobilize its resources. A number of local jurisdictions have adopted similar declarations, including Arlington County.

At the emergency meeting, board members sat roughly six feet apart in order to practice safe social distancing, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chairman Jeff McKay noted that the spread of coronavirus poses a “public health threat,” but that the county is well-positioned to manage concerns.

“This is not something this is going to be resolved tomorrow,” McKay said, giving a nod to county staff that is working their “tails off” in this “unprecedented” public health crisis.

The declaration allows the county to pursue “coordinated local government to prevent or alleviate damage, loss hardship, or suffering” caused by the respiratory disease, according to the declaration.

Like similar declarations for snow emergency response, the motion also allows the county to apply for federal and state disaster planning funds and increased flexibility in operations.

The county executive will now have the authority to act on behalf of the board, but won’t be able to do anything inconsistent with state orders, McKay said.

“We don’t have as much authority as people think we do,” Vice Chair Penny Gross said, noting that D.C.’s mayor imposed new restrictions on businesses in the city.

“We’re also at the mercy of the governor,” Gross said.

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency last Thursday. So far, the Fairfax Health District has 10 presumptive cases of coronavirus.

“We will make it through this,” McKay said. “We will have battle scars without a doubt.”

This story also appeared on our sister site Reston Now

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Editor’s note: This list will be regularly updated with the newest information on closures.

In efforts to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus, Fairfax County, the City of Falls Church and the Town of Vienna are canceling meetings and closing places.

All three local governments have updates on their websites with coronavirus information — Fairfax County rolled out its new coronavirus webpage today (March 16).

As of Sunday, March 15, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County — a number that officials say is expected to grow.

Fairfax County

All Fairfax County public schools are currently closed.

“If FCPS schools cannot reopen as scheduled on April 14, our plan is to begin distance learning either online, or by learning packets at that time,” according to a message from Superintendent Scott Brabrand. “Over the next two weeks, we will begin distance learning training for teachers and give teachers the opportunity to plan and prepare for distance instruction and reconnect with their students.”

Food distribution to students will continue throughout the closures.

Other closures and changes around the county include:

  • indoor parks, community facilities and libraries: closed for two weeks starting Monday, March 16;
  • senior and adult day health care centers: closed until further notice;
  • most Fairfax County courts’ hearings and trials: canceled
  • all Fairfax County Park Authority playgrounds, skate parks and restrooms: closed

Town of Vienna

  • Town Hall and other offices/facilities will be open by appointment only through April 12
  • Vienna General District Court: closed Monday, March 16
  • The Freeman Store and Museum: closed through April 14
  • the Bowman House: closed
  • all Town of Vienna special events canceled from Monday, March 16, through April 12

“Town of Vienna board and commission meetings have been canceled until April 13,” according to the town’s website. “The April 14 On Deck with Mercury event also has been canceled and Mayor’s Volunteer Reception moved to June 9.”

The town added that picnic shelter reservations will not be accepted right now.

City of Falls Church

  • community center: closed from Monday, March 16, through April 12
  • Mary Riley Styles Public Library: closed from Monday, March 16, through April 12

“The Community Center (223 Little Falls Street) and library host a large number of visitors every day, and closing the buildings could help reduce opportunities for public gatherings,” the city said in a press release.

People can drop off books at the library’s temporary location near the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School at 601 S. Oak Street.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Falls Church is suspending the weekly Farmers Market for this Saturday, March 21,” the city announced. “The city is awaiting further guidance from the Commonwealth regarding mass gatherings and food sources.”

Other Closures 

All Virginia DMV customer service centers are closed from March 18-April 2 and driver and vehicle credentials have been extended 60 days.

McLean Community Center, which is home to the Alden Theatre, galleries for the McLean Project for the Arts, the Susan B. DuVal Art Studio and meeting rooms, is closed through April 12. The Old Firehouse Center is also closed.

“All classes, activities and performances are canceled, as are all scheduled facility rentals, community organization uses and the MCC Governing Board meeting and public hearing, which were scheduled for Wednesday, March 25,” according to MCC’s website.

Wolf Trap is postponing all of its performances, classes and events between March 13-31.

“We are working with the artists to reschedule their performances for future dates and will share that information as it becomes available,” according to Wolf Trap’s website. “All current tickets will be honored for the rescheduled performances.”

Photo by Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider plans to declare a state of local emergency tomorrow (Tuesday) due to the spread of the coronavirus.

In a statement, Jeff McKay, the board’s chairman, said the board is expected to hold an emergency session tomorrow at 10 a.m as part of its next phase of emergency response.

Declaring a local emergency would activate the county’s Emergency Operations Plan and allow the county to quickly mobilize county resources. The board must vote to pass the declaration.

So far, all county agencies have been directed to shift to core functions. Residents are strongly encouraged to conduct any needed business online. All county parks, libraries and school buildings are closed for two weeks beginning today.

The meeting will be broadcast on Fairfax County Government Channel 16 and streamed online.

As of Sunday, March 15, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County.

This story was also published on our sister site Reston Now.

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(Updated 3/19/2020) Fairfax County announced today (Sunday) more closures to prevent the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Starting Monday (March 16), indoor parks, community facilities and libraries will be closed for two weeks.

“The impacted facilities include recreation, nature, community, resource and teen centers, as well as golf courses, historic sites and (permitted use of) athletic fields and picnic shelters,” the county said.

Some of the closures will allow the facilities to be used as meal distribution centers, the county said.

Earlier today, the county said it has closed senior and adult day health care centers until further notice.

Image via Fairfax County

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