Tysons, VA

(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) Following statewide trends, the number of daily COVID-19 cases continues to dip in Fairfax County.

As of today (Monday), the number of new cases stood at 113 with a rolling weekly average of 193 cases — the second-lowest number of daily reported cases this year. Only 89 new cases were reported in Fairfax County on Feb. 8.

The number of new cases has continued to fall since cases peaked with an all-time high of 1,485 on Jan. 17, according to data released by the Virginia Department of Health.

So far, 134,359 people have been vaccinated by Fairfax County, a number that includes first and second doses, according to the county’s data dashboard.

The county’s health department is currently scheduling appointments for people who registered on Monday, Jan. 18. A little over 96,900 people remain on the county’s waitlist.

While county officials have touted progress with the vaccination system, the jurisdiction’s decision to opt-out of the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration caused confusion late last week.

Since then, the county’s health department has addressed common concerns and questions in a recent blog post. The county is still encouraging residents to use the county’s online form to register for vaccines.

Across the state, 1.1 million have received at least one dose and 481,297 people have been fully vaccinated.

Image via Virginia Department of Health

0 Comments

Fairfax County opted out of Virginia’s new statewide COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system to reduce confusion, but the decision seems to have had the opposite effect for some county residents.

The Virginia Department of Health told Reston Now, Tysons Reporter’s affiliate site, that on Wednesday (Feb. 17), the day after the launch, the statewide COVID information line received 542 calls from Fairfax County zip codes asking questions about vaccines that were rerouted back to the county’s call center.

When asked about this, the Fairfax County Health Department acknowledged the potential for confusion.

“We understand that it could still be confusing that there are two systems,” wrote Jeremy Lasich, spokesperson for the Fairfax County Health Department. “We are happy that we have a strong partnership with VDH and that their call center is appropriately routing questions about Fairfax County back to our local call center.”

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told Tysons Reporter last week that the county had decided to forgo the Virginia appointment system in favor of its own existing system to “cut down on confusion.”

Reston Now reached out to the Chairman’s office with the information from VDH but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Fairfax County is the only jurisdiction in Virginia to opt-out of the state COVID-19 vaccine pre- registration system.

The county maintains that they are “consistently” communicating the need to register through their system through their website, blog, social media, and other avenues.

This includes translating COVID-related materials into Spanish and sharing information via text messages from the Health Department’s outreach team.

VDH has also added language to their website directing Fairfax County residents back to the appropriate portal.

If Fairfax County residents do end up registering through the state system, the information will end up eventually going back to the county, but those residents will be added to the end of the waitlist, the county explains in a newly published blog post.

If residents register in both the state and county systems, the first registration will be honored and the second one will be removed.

Over the last several weeks, the vaccine rollout across Fairfax County, Virginia, and the D.C. region has continued to be plagued with technical issues, equity concerns, and logistical challenges.

The county is currently in “Phase 1b”, meaning they are offering vaccine registration for all residents 65 years or older as well as those between 16 and 64 years old with underlying medical conditions.

Some essential workers are also in the process of getting vaccinated, including health care personnel, childcare workers, and K-12 teachers or staff members living or working in the county.

Fairfax County now has a registration status checker for people to see their eligibility, and residents can sign up for an appointment through the county’s vaccine registration page. Fairfax County residents can also call 703-324-7404 for more information.

According to the county’s new data dashboard, those who registered on January 18 — the first day it was open to those in Phase 1b — are now being scheduled for appointments.

More than 42,000 people signed up that day, nearly four times as many people as Jan. 11, the next busiest day for registrations, the county health department says.

The county expects it will take “several weeks” for all those that registered on Jan. 18 to get a scheduled appointment.

It may appear as if progress isn’t being made when the appointment date on the dashboard isn’t changing, but the health department is moving through registrations, Lasich told Reston Now.

“We continue to ask for your patience,” he said. “We promise you will get an appointment if you are on our list.”

Photo via Fairfax County Health Department

0 Comments

Friday Morning Notes

Pavement Could Be Icy After Overnight Refreeze — “If you are heading out this morning, watch for the potential of black ice. Temperatures are currently below freezing so sidewalks can be slippery especially if left untreated. Remember that bridges, ramps, & overpasses freeze first.” [Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management/Twitter]

Winter Weather Delays COVID-19 Vaccine Shipments — “The Virginia Department of Health anticipates the delay impacts this week’s shipment of approximately 106,800 doses to Virginia. The delay is attributed to distribution channels that are shut down in the Midwest and elsewhere.” [Patch]

Residential Trash Pickups Suspended — “Due to inclement weather, RESIDENTIAL TRASH COLLECTION HAS BEEN SUSPENDED TODAY.” [Fairfax County Public Works/Twitter]

Fairfax County Schools Are All-Virtual Today — All Fairfax County Public Schools students are learning virtually today as inclement weather continues. Activities on school grounds, including extracurricular activities and adult and community education classes, have been canceled for the day, and access to school facilities is limited. [FCPS]

Fairfax County Awarded Federal Funds for Homeless Assistance Programs — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Fairfax County $9.5 million to support 20 ongoing projects, a 3% increase from the previous year. The funding will go to permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing projects, while helping providers pay for leasing and rent costs as well as services. [Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development]

Falls Church City School Renaming Process Begins — “The first organizing meetings, held through Zoom, one for the renaming of the high school and one for the renaming of the elementary school, were held last week as the two advisory committees to the F.C. School Board, each made up of about 20 citizen volunteers (out of a whopping total of 77 applicants), convened.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons Tech Company Acquires Maryland Cybersecurity FirmApplied Insight announced on Wednesday (Feb. 17) that it has acquired the Maryland-based company Bridges Inc., allowing it to complement its services with artificial intelligence and “deliver end-to-end cloud infrastructure and data analytics in a way that is unique to the industry.” [Applied Insight]

Photo via FCCPS Office of Facilities Services/Twitter

0 Comments

A new bill could potentially significantly limit how long the Fairfax County Police Department and other state police departments can store data obtained through automated license plate readers (ALPRs).

As originally written, SB 1198 would bar police from storing data obtained by ALPRs for more than 30 days without a warrant or ongoing active investigation.

ALPRs can collect data and information like photos of license plates as well as a driver’s location at a particular date and time. They are often mounted on street poles, overpasses, or police square cars. A central server houses the data.

Privacy advocates and civil liberties organizations have criticized the technology for chilling First Amendment-protected activity and privacy concerns.

The Virginia State Supreme Court ruled late last year that police departments are allowed to keep this data “indefinitely,” no warrant or investigation needed. This came after a Fairfax County judge ruled otherwise in 2019, saying that the data collection was in violation of Virginia’s “Data Act.”

While some jurisdictions do purge this data relatively quickly, the Fairfax County Police Department does not.

Tysons Reporter’s affiliate site, Reston Now, has confirmed that FCPD stores information collected by ALPRs for up to a year.

Their reasoning is that the information helps protect the community and locate missing persons.

“Using technology such as license plate recognition has improved our ability to safeguard Fairfax County,” FCPD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told Reston Now in a statement. “With that, we have stringent systems in place to protect the information privacy and constitutional rights of those we serve. We appreciate efforts to further study this important issue because it’s paramount that we strike an equitable balance between data retention and investigational integrity.”

The state bill was introduced by State Sen. Chap Petersen who represents the 34th district, which covers Fairfax, Vienna, Oakton, and parts of Chantilly.

He introduced a similar bill back in 2014 and 2015, which limited storage of data to only seven days. That 2015 bill, which had bipartisan support, was vetoed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.

“License plate readers…capture the movement of vehicles. They track who’s attending a church service, who’s attending a political rally, a gun show,” Petersen told Reston Now. “It can be very arbitrary and very dangerous in that…it’s used to essentially put a layer of surveillance over citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights.” Read More

0 Comments

11 finalists have emerged from the 45 teams that joined Fairfax County’s inaugural Smart City Challenge, a virtual “hackathon” where participants developed projects that utilize technology to address societal issues.

However, the advancing teams will have to wait a little longer than expected to vie for the competition’s top prizes, which include more than $350,000 in cash and in-kind prizes as well as the chance to work on a pilot project for Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.

Shortly after releasing the list of finalists, organizers Smart City Works and the McLean-based Refraction announced yesterday (Wednesday) that the concluding event — where the finalists will pitch their ideas live to a panel of judges — and subsequent awards ceremony have been postponed by a week to Feb. 25 due to weather concerns.

“The National Weather Service is forecasting a winter storm in the greater Washington, DC region tomorrow with power outages ‘likely.’  If even one team is unable to pitch due to a power outage, it would be unfair,” the Smart City Challenge team said in a message to participants.

The organizers say they decided to delay the finale, which was scheduled to take place today from 6-8:30 p.m., after consulting with their partners on the challenge, a group that includes the utility Dominion Energy and Fairfax County.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay are among the speakers scheduled for the event, which remains open for registration.

The Smart City Challenge kicked off on Jan. 23. In addition to the competition, it featured different virtual panels on topics like sustainability and housing that were open to the general public.

“The Smart City Challenge is the perfect opportunity to tap bright minds to improve the lives of everyone in the Washington, DC area through technology, innovation, and problem-solving,” Refraction CEO Esther Lee said. “We are excited to bring together forward-thinking businesses, entrepreneurs, universities, government, and nonprofits to showcase collaboration and thought leadership.”

The competition finalists will be evaluated based on innovation, impact, practicality, and equity by a panel of six judges, including Lee, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, and Smart City Works Venture Labs CEO David Heyman.

The finalist teams are listed below, along with their proposed projects: Read More

0 Comments

COVID-19 case rates in Fairfax County have leveled off over the past week after appearing to trend downward since mid-January, when a record 1,485 cases were reported in a single day.

As of today, the county’s seven-day average is at 312.4 cases and has been hovering between 290 and 337 cases since Feb. 4. While the anticipated post-winter holiday surge seems to have tapered off, case levels are still higher than the pandemic’s initial spring peak, when the highest recorded seven-day average was 303 cases on May 31.

With 194 new cases today, the Fairfax Health District has now reported 64,950 COVID-19 cases, 3,482 hospitalizations, and 849 deaths, according to data from the Fairfax County Health Department.

Today also marked the launch of Virginia’s new statewide COVID-19 vaccine registration system, though Fairfax County is not participating for the time being.

Based on a registration data dashboard that went live on Feb. 12, Fairfax County has made slow but discernible progress in its efforts to vaccinate older adults, some groups of essential workers, and other eligible populations.

The Fairfax County Health Department has whittled its waitlist of people who have registered but haven’t been given an appointment yet down to 105,268 people, as of 10 a.m. The list had around 180,000 registrants as recently as last Thursday (Feb. 11). In total, 229,185 people have registered with the county to get the COVID-19 vaccine so far.

The health department is currently making appointments for more than 42,000 people who registered on Jan. 18, which saw particularly high demand since it was the day when the county expanded eligibility for the vaccine to people between the ages of 65 and 74 as well as people with high-risk medical conditions.

People who have registered for an appointment through the county health department can now see where they are in the queue with a registration status checker, though the rollout of that tool was not without its challenges.

Fairfax County has delivered 110,098 of the 114,923 vaccine doses that it has gotten from the Virginia Department of Health so far. About 68% of those doses were adminstered by the county health department, while the remaining 31% were distributed to other providers, like Inova.

According to the VDH, 48,404 people in Fairfax County have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and 163,200 total doses have been administered in the county. That number includes residents and staff at long-term care facilities that have been getting the vaccine through the federal government rather than the local health department.

Images via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

0 Comments

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Fairfax Health District residents looking to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine appointment should continue to use the Fairfax County registration system, the Fairfax County Health Department said today (Friday).

The Virginia Department of Health announced that a new, statewide registration system will launch on Tuesday (Feb. 16). Local health districts have been directed to close their existing registration forms starting at 5 p.m. today so that data can be cleaned up, consolidated, and transferred to the new system.

However, the FCHD says it will not participate in the statewide system at this time and will instead continue to manage vaccine appointments for everyone in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, and the towns of Vienna, Herndon, and Clifton.

“For those already on the waitlist, do not register again on the new statewide system,” the county health department said.

Fairfax County’s vaccine call center at 703-324-7404 will also continue to be operational, even with the state launching a new call center.

Fairfax County decided to stick with its own registration system because officials believed it would be less confusing for residents, and because the county has “invested a lot of resources” into the system, Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson Tina Dale said.

Dale notes that the FCHD has now registered more than 200,000 people for vaccine appointments through its system.

“We invested a lot of resources into our registration system and worked out the kinks to ensure we continue to process more people than any other health district in the state,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “At this point, I am glad we can maintain our system that residents are familiar with to cut down on confusion. We will continue to have conversations with the state about registration as the vaccine process rolls out.”

Fairfax County’s promised dashboard with COVID-19 vaccine and registration data is also now live. According to the dashboard, 100,248 people in Fairfax County have now received at least one vaccine dose as of 4 p.m. today.

Photo via Fairfax County government

0 Comments

Just a few days before Valentine’s Day, about 650 volunteers in the Tysons area and Fairfax County made medical workers at Inova Hospital their valentine.

The nonprofit organization Volunteer Fairfax distributed about 7,000 handmade pink and red cards yesterday (Tuesday) to Inova nurses outside the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute and throughout the Inova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church.

“This many cards, from this many people, shows that the community acknowledges what we’re going through,” nurse Sabeena Jamali said.

Volunteer Fairfax has been delivering handmade Valentine’s Day cards for 10 years now, but this year, volunteers crafted 10,000 cards — more than ever before, according to Volunteer Fairfax Communications Director Lorna Clarke.

3,000 cards are earmarked for children who are in or graduating from the foster care system.

Before the novel coronavirus, the organization would take over a fire station during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend — as an homage to his legacy of service — and people would come to make cards in person, Clarke said. This typically yielded 3,000 to 5,000 cards.

She attributed the huge influx of cards this year to a practical reason — volunteers were able to do this from home — as well as a sentimental one, as appreciation has deepened in the community for healthcare workers and the sacrifices they make.

Inova is one of the largest employers in the region, but it is easy to take it for granted when driving past the campus on the way to work, Volunteer Fairfax CEO Stephen Mutty said.

“We wanted to raise awareness and say thank you,” he said, crediting Tysons for its “demographic of caring, socially engaged people.”

For Inova President Steve Narang, Valentine’s Day is a special holiday because it gives people a chance to reflect on what it means to have a connection to another person. The cards establish and reinforce a connection between a hospital worker and someone in the community.

“You could see it in their eyes, the recognition that ‘I’m still being seen,'” Narang said.

Case manager Ruth Mahat said she is going to put her Valentine up in the break room to cheer her up whenever she rushes in to grab something or has to step away because she feels overwhelmed.

“Seeing the card brings your morale up,” Mahat said. “Someone in the community is thinking about you and appreciates what you do.”

Image via Volunteer Fairfax

0 Comments

The number of daily reported COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County continues to drop, returning to similar case loads recorded in June.

The rolling weekly average of cases for this past week stands at 289 cases, down from a reported high of nearly 697 cases on Jan. 17. The number of daily cases has continued on a steep decline since hitting a record high of 1,485 cases on Jan. 17. Fairfax County reported just 89 cases today, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

In June, the peak seven-day average was 303 cases.

The drop in the cases is also reflected in statewide statistics. As of Feb. 7, the rolling weekly average of cases was 3,478. Although this is still higher than any weekly average before December, the overall number of cases are declining steeply.

So far, the pandemic has claimed the lives of 826 people in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. 3,389 people have been hospitalized, and there have now been 62,502 total COVID-19 cases.

The drop comes as Gov. Ralph Northam directs all school divisions to explore options for in-person learning by March 15 and look into plans for extending school into the summer.

In Fairfax County, more than 120,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, and 26,175 people are fully vaccinated.

Image via Virginia Department of Health

0 Comments

The novel coronavirus has now killed 802 people in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

While the number of new cases and hospitalizations appear to be trending downward, Fairfax County has still been averaging 365 COVID-19 cases, eight hospitalizations, and 4.5 deaths per day over the past seven days, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s data.

With 237 new cases today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has recorded a total of 60,436 COVID-19 cases, and 3,317 people have been hospitalized due to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

After a hectic week of mass appointment cancellations and revamped protocols, state and local officials in Virginia hope that an anticipated increase in vaccine supplies, clearer guidance to health providers, and the pending launch of a centralized registration system will result in a more efficient and less confusing COVID-19 vaccination program.

According to a presentation that Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu is scheduled to deliver to county supervisors tomorrow (Tuesday), Virginia is currently receiving about 105,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines per week. The Fairfax Health District has a weekly allocation of 13,600 doses.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced last week that the federal government is expected to increase its allocation of vaccine to the Commonwealth by 16%. He also told local health districts to split their supplies evenly between older adults and the other eligible populations, including essential workers and people with high-risk medical conditions.

Fairfax County continues to lead Virginia’s vaccination efforts, administering 95,935 total doses and fully vaccinating 15,864 people as of today. However, that is only a fraction of the 223,625 doses that the Fairfax Health District has received, according to a new VDH dashboard.

As of Jan. 28, the county had a waitlist of 168,422 people who have pre-registered for an appointment through the Fairfax County Health Department, which has been administering the vaccine to older adults, healthcare workers, long-term care facility employees, and people with underlying medical conditions.

Essential workers, including teachers and first responders, have been getting vaccinated through special clinics from Inova Health Systems, which has reported administering about 75,000 doses. Last week, the nonprofit ceased giving new appointments for people looking to receive their first dose, though Fairfax County Public Schools was able to reschedule appointments for its staff that had been canceled.

Overall, Virginia has received 1.3 million vaccine doses, administered 843,230 doses, and fully vaccinated 124,407 people. The pace of vaccinations has been picking up, with the Commonwealth now averaging 33,675 doses a day, but remains short of Northam’s goal of 50,000 per day.

Images via CDC on Unsplash, VDH, Fairfax County Health Department

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list