Newsletter
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(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) Two technology companies in Tysons have each received $100,000 grants as part of a new state initiative intended to support projects that turn research into commercial products or services.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday (Monday) that Virginia will award $3.4 million in grants to 34 small, technology-focused businesses for the inaugural round of the Commonwealth Commercialization Fund (CCF), which launched in 2020 to help advance promising technology through the development process.

The Tysons-based recipients are the cybersecurity company Onclave Networks Inc. and Jeeva Informatics Solutions Inc., which is developing a cloud platform to help medical researchers recruit and work with patients for clinical trials.

“Facilitating research breakthroughs and getting new technologies out of the lab and into the hands of consumers is key to driving economic growth and creating jobs in the Commonwealth,” Northam said in the news release. “I am confident this first round of CCF awards will produce far-reaching benefits and congratulate these innovators and entrepreneurs on their success in developing transformative solutions to improve lives and address some of the most pressing challenges we face.”

The CCF consolidated Virginia’s existing Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund and Virginia Research Investment Fund. Each of the Fiscal Year 2021 recipients received $100,000 and will provide matching funds.

According to the news release from the governor’s office, the fund focuses on technology “with a high potential for economic development and job creation” and that “position the Commonwealth as a national leader in science- and technology-based research, development, and commercialization.”

Onclave received a grant for its Zero Trust network, which aims to allow for remote communications and operations of “smart” infrastructure, such as telemedicine services or autonomous transportation, while providing protection from security threats.

The company previously received funding from the 2020 Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund and was selected to participate in the Smart City Works accelerator program as a winner of Fairfax County’s first Smart City Challenge in March.

Onclave is also working with the Center for Innovative Technology to deploy its technology at the Virginia Smart Community Testbed in Stafford County.

“We have repeatedly seen how important it is to secure not just our devices and networks, but the data as well,” CIT Chief Technology Officer David Ihrie said in a statement. “As the Internet of Things continues to rapidly expand, cybersecurity solutions like Onclave’s Zero Trust platform are essential foundational elements of our new digital infrastructure.”

Other Fairfax County recipients of CCF funding include AtWork Systems and Rimstorm Inc. in Herndon as well as Service Robotics & Technologies in Springfield and Keshif in Alexandria.

“The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority applauds the granting of the inaugural round of the Commonwealth Commercialization Fund awards, including to the 6 Fairfax County-area-based companies,” Fairfax County Economic Development President and CEO Victor Hoskins said by email. “The CCF awards will provide funding support to spur research commercialization, with the intent of technological development leading to economic growth in Virginia.”

Photo via Alesia Kazantceva/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Woman Pulled Over by State Trooper Calls for Accountability — “Charges against a Black woman pulled over and arrested in Fairfax County, Virginia, have been dropped by the county’s commonwealth attorney and expunged by the courts. But Juanisha Brooks is demanding further action as a result of the March traffic stop…Brooks maintains she was profiled before the stop and treated poorly after it because of her race.” [WTOP]

Fairfax County Parks Inch Back to Normal — “Facilities throughout the Fairfax County park system are returning to nearly normal operations after a series of closures and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we ramp up and reopen, some sites may operate on limited schedules or require preregistration for activities, so we strongly urge park visitors to call sites in advance or check our website to ensure access and availability.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Governor Delivers Speech at Final George Mason HS Graduation — Gov. Ralph Northam served as the commencement speaker at George Mason High School’s Class of 2021 graduation ceremony on Wednesday (June 2). It was the first ceremony at the City of Falls Church’s newly built school and the last one before it transitions to the new moniker of Meridian High School. [Falls Church News-Press]

Grant Approved to Replace McLean Field — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board has approved a $20,000 Mastenbrook Volunteer Matching Fund Grant request from the McLean Youth Soccer (MYS) Association for improvements to Holladay Field in the Dranesville District. Board members voted in favor of the request at their meeting on May 26, 2021.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

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(Updated at 1:00 p.m.) Masks are coming off in Virginia, as COVID-19 case levels continue to fall and vaccinations become more widespread.

As of midnight on Saturday (May 15), people who have been fully vaccinated — meaning that at least two weeks have passed since they got all necessary vaccine doses — are no longer required to wear face masks indoors, except inside health care facilities, on public transit, or in congregate settings such as homeless shelters.

“This has been a long road, our community has worked hard to slow the spread of COVID-19 and it has paid off,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “Our case numbers have been steadily dropping while our vaccination rates continue to increase.”

Gov. Ralph Northam updated the Commonwealth’s mask mandate on Friday (May 14) to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cited the vaccines’ proven effectiveness at protecting people from COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill if they do get infected by the novel coronavirus.

Northam also announced last week that Virginia will lift all remaining capacity and distancing rules on May 28, rather than June 15 as previously planned.

“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” Northam said. “That’s why we can safely move up the timeline for lifting mitigation measures in Virginia. I strongly urge any Virginian who is not yet vaccinated to do so — the vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19.”

COVID-19 cases have continued to decline in Fairfax County since the county was averaging 194.4 new cases over the past seven days on April 13.

The Fairfax Health District, which also includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, reported just 16 new cases today, bringing its total for the pandemic to 77,666 cases. 4,091 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 1,108 people have died from the disease.

Fairfax County is now averaging 34.3 new cases per day for the past week — the lowest seven-day average since it was at 30.3 cases on April 1, 2020, when cases just started coming in. The district’s current seven-day testing positivity rate of 2% is the lowest that it has ever been.

The promising downward trends in COVID-19 cases and testing have been complemented by an ongoing vaccination campaign that opened up to 12 to 15-year-old adolescents last Thursday (May 13).

With no vaccine approved yet for younger children and most older students still not vaccinated, Virginia is still requiring masks to be worn in schools in accordance with the CDC’s recommendations.

Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson Lucy Caldwell told Tysons Reporter on Saturday that the school system will communicate information to families, staff, and the rest of the community this week.

McKay says Fairfax County anticipates that children as young as 2 will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine later this year.

“Our goal is to reach at least 70% vaccination rates for all adults residing in Fairfax and we are making great progress in reaching that goal,” McKay said. “While there will still be challenges ahead and while we still have work to do to get people vaccinated, we feel good about the data.”

Northam stated on Friday that over 63% of Virginia’s adult population has now received at least one dose of vaccine, and he remains confident that that number will reach 70% by July 4, the target set by President Joe Biden.

McKay’s office says Fairfax County is also “committed” to reaching the 70% goal by July 4, stating that opportunities for people to get vaccinated are now “widely available throughout our community” and that supplies are at levels to meet demand.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, Fairfax County has administered more than 1 million doses so far. 602,926 residents — 52.5% of the population — have gotten at least one dose, and 454,263 residents — 39.6% of the population — have been fully vaccinated.

The Fairfax County Health Department received 58,500 doses from the state during the week of May 10-16.

Photo courtesy Peggy James, graph via Virginia Department of Health

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Morning Notes

Virginia Declares State of Emergency Over Gas Supplies — Gov. Ralph Northam gave the state and local governments increased flexibility and funding yesterday (Tuesday) after a ransomware attack disrupted the Colonial Pipeline, which provides 45% of the East Coast’s gasoline supply. 7.5% of the state’s 3,880 gas stations reported running out of fuel, a shortage primarily attributed to panic buying. [WTOP]

Businessman Wins Republican Nominaton for Governor — Glenn Youngkin, a Great Falls resident and former chief executive of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, will represent the Republican Party in Virginia’s gubernatorial race after prevailing over six other candidates in a ranked-choice voting process. The party chose Virginia Beach Del. Jason Miyares as its nominee for attorney general in a convention on Saturday (May 8). [Patch]

Fairfax County Limits Crowds at Scotts Run — Parking at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean is being limited to 50 vehicles after the park was “overrun” by rowdy visitors last summer. Fairfax County officials attributed the surge in visitors to young people looking for an outlet during the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed many recreational facilities in the area. [Sun Gazette]

ViVa Vienna Seeks VolunteersViVa Vienna is looking for volunteers to help out with the annual Memorial Day weekend festival, which will be slightly different from past years due to the pandemic. Volunteers are needed to clean up trash, monitor rides and games, and support the entertainment stage. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Photo by Joanne Liebig

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Gov. Ralph Northam, right, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), center left, at the Tysons Community Vaccination Center on April 19 (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Virginians who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are officially free to go outside and visit fully vaccinated friends without wearing a face mask.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday (Thursday) that he has amended the state’s public health rules to conform with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that loosens mask-wearing and social distancing protocols for people who are fully vaccinated, meaning two weeks have passed since they received their last required vaccine dose.

Released on April 27, the CDC’s new recommendations state that fully vaccinated people face “minimal risk” of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 when engaged in outdoor activities such as exercising or eating outside. They also likely face little risk from small, private indoor gatherings and visits to public indoor spaces with other fully vaccinated people.

The CDC emphasizes that masks should still be worn indoors when unvaccinated people are present, especially if they are at increased risk of severe illness from the novel coronavirus, and in crowded outdoor settings like concerts or sporting events where maintaining social distancing is difficult.

“The CDC’s recommendations underscore what we have said all along — vaccinations are the way we will put this pandemic behind us and get back to normal life,” Northam said. “Our increasing vaccination rate and decreasing number of new COVID-19 cases has made it possible to ease mitigation measures in a thoughtful and measured manner. I encourage all Virginians who have not yet received the vaccine to make an appointment today.”

Touted as another incentive for people to get vaccinated, the new CDC guidelines came out amid news reports that COVID-19 vaccine demand has slowed in some parts of the country to the point where state and local governments are declining shipments.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told Tysons Reporter yesterday that that has not been the case in the county, which has only just gotten enough supplies to meet demand.

As of April 29, 529,402 Fairfax County residents — or 46.1% of the total population — had received at least one vaccine dose, and 334,568 residents — 29.2% of the population — had been fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Department of Health data, which does not include some doses administered by the federal government.

Statewide, more than 3.7 million Virginians — 57% of the adult population — have now gotten at least one dose, and 2.5 million Virginians are fully vaccinated, or 39% of the adult population, according to Northam.

Fairfax County officials say they will support the new guidelines in Northam’s amended executive order.

“We will continue to follow the guidance put out by the state and follow the data, just as we always have,” McKay said in a statement. “I know everyone is looking forward to seeing their loved ones again without fear of spreading COVID. Getting vaccinated will be necessary to do so however, so I recommend that everyone make an appointment as soon as possible.”

With high school football games nearing an end and spring sports like baseball starting up, Northam also announced yesterday that he has accelerated plans to ease capacity limits on outdoor recreational sports, which are now permitted up to 1,000 spectators, effective immediately.

That change was previously scheduled to take effect on May 15, when restrictions on social gatherings, entertainment venues, and alcohol sales at restaurants will be loosened.

Northam says he anticipates removing all capacity limits in mid-June “as long as the Commonwealth’s health metrics remain stable and vaccination progress continues.”

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(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Virginia will further loosen restrictions on social gatherings and some businesses on May 15, Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday afternoon (April 22).

“Vaccination numbers are up, and our COVID-19 case numbers are substantially lower than they were earlier this year,” Northam said in a video message. “So, we have been able to begin easing some mitigation measures.”

Changes include increasing capacity for both outdoor and indoor entertainment venues to 50%, though indoor venues will be capped at 1,000 people. Both outdoor and indoor venues were previously limited to 30% capacity.

Per the executive order, the entertainment venue category includes concert venues, performance art venues, movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, escape rooms, zoos, and trampoline parks.

In addition, indoor recreational sporting events will be allowed more spectators with an increase of up to 50% capacity or 250 people, whichever is less. Outdoor recreational sporting events can go up to 50% capacity or 1,000 people.

Public and private social gatherings will be able to host up to 100 people if they’re indoors or 250 people if they’re outdoors. Masks must still be worn, and six feet of social distancing must still be maintained.

Restaurants will be able to sell alcohol after midnight again. Northam also amended Virginia’s guidance earlier this week to let restaurants resume bar service, effective immediately, provided the patrons are six feet apart.

Late-night and 24-hour restaurants will no longer have to close their dining room between midnight and 5 a.m., either. Self-service buffets will also be allowed to reopen.

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to take more steps in June,” Northam said. “We are working to significantly ramp up vaccinations even further and aim to reduce capacity limits in June, hopefully all the way.”

The governor also took the time to announce that children 12 and over could potentially be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as this summer.

“Research is moving forward and it’s looking like vaccinations may be available for children age 12 and over as soon as this summer,” Northam said. “That will make it easier and safer for when school starts up again in the fall.”

Along with the rest of Virginia, Fairfax County moved to Phase 2 on Sunday (April 18), making all adults 16 and over eligible for a vaccine, but getting an appointment continues to be a challenge, particularly at local pharmacies. Some readers have told Tysons Reporter that they have had luck finding slots at the new Tysons Corner Center mass vaccination site, which is now listed as an option in Vaccine Finder.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Chairman Jeff McKay says the latest easing of public health restrictions reflects the encouraging trends that the county has been seeing, with COVID-19 cases declining and vaccinations on the rise.

As of today (Friday), the county is currently averaging 141.6 new cases over the past week, which is down from the spring 2021 high of 194.4 cases on April 13. 484,617 residents have received at least one vaccine dose, and 297,704 residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

“Our population in Fairfax County is very eager to be vaccinated and have acted with care this last year,” McKay said in a statement. “Of course, we will keep an eye on the data as we move forward, we know we aren’t out of the woods yet. We need everyone to be smart, but generally everything is moving in the right direction.”

Northam has set May 31 as the target date for all adults who want a vaccine to be able to get one, but Fairfax County officials have not committed to that yet.

Even with the easing of restrictions, Northam reiterated that some mitigation strategies still need to continue.

“We all need to wear masks, keep social distancing, and we all need to keep encouraging each other to get a shot,” he said.

Photo via Governor Ralph Northam/YouTube

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The former Lord & Taylor in Tysons Corner Center is now a mass vaccination site that can administer vaccines to upwards of 3,000 people a day.

In place of clothing racks are now hundreds of black chairs, all spaced to allow for social distancing, but vestiges of the department store — like the glass cases for jewelry — remain. The state-funded clinic, the first of its kind in Fairfax County, started delivering COVID-19 vaccinations today (Tuesday).

“This is the economic engine of Fairfax County, indeed the Commonwealth, and it is necessary people in Fairfax County get vaccinated,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeffrey McKay said during a press conference yesterday (Monday). “This is an act of charity, and we in Fairfax County are charitable people.”

As of Sunday (April 18), Fairfax County has expanded vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older, and more than a quarter of Virginia’s population has been fully vaccinated.

“However you’re able to get an appointment, please get vaccinated,” Gov. Ralph Northam said during the press conference.

After dropping steeply earlier this year, new case rates are plateauing, and the positivity rate is down to 6.1%, he said. As a result, small tweaks in the guidelines will be coming in a few weeks, such as changes to capacity limits for performing arts and sports.

Virginia State Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice will make a decision on Friday (April 23) about whether to move forward with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration continue to collect data.

To fill the hole left by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Virginia has received an additional 15,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer shots this week for a total of 220,000 first doses, he said.

“It sounds like the production capability for Moderna and Pfizer is kind of maxed out,” Avula said. “We do not expect a significant increase in Moderna and Pfizer moving forward.”

Todd Putt, the senior manager of marketing for Tysons Corner Center, said Lord & Taylor left last year, and a logistics team converted the space into a clinic in a few weeks.

“We’re thankful to have the clinic here and to contribute in this way,” Putt said.

Retail outlets had been offering abundant space for a while, but the state and county needed more vaccine supply before it could open any clinics, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.

“This is a great local, state, and federal partnership to work more quickly to meet vaccine demand,” she said.

Officials said interpreters will be on-site to help and for those who speak languages not represented, as machines will offer translation services in more than 100 languages.

Residents can sign up for an appointment through the state website. They can also use VaccineFinder to find local pharmacies and other sites that are providing vaccine doses.

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Morning Notes

Vienna Budget Hearings Begin Next Week — The Town of Vienna will hold a public hearing on its proposed FY 2022 budget and water and sewer rates on Monday (April 12), with a public hearing on the proposed tax rate to follow on April 26. Town Manager Mercury Payton proposed increasing the budget by 5.3% and maintaining a flat tax rate for the seventh consecutive year. [Patch]

Northam Endorses McAuliffe for Virginia Governor — “Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he is backing Terry McAuliffe in the race to succeed him, handing his predecessor one of the contest’s most coveted endorsements…McAuliffe [is] the presumptive front-runner in the five-person Democratic primary, to be held in June.” [Associated Press/WTOP]

Fairfax County Will Get $7.8 Million to Combat Homelessness — Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D) announced yesterday that Virginia will get more than $96 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to help residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless get access to safe, affordable housing. Fairfax County is among 21 localities to receive grant funding. [Press release from Sen. Tim Kaine’s office]

Wolf Trap Announces Grants for Local Performing Arts Programs — Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has awarded eight grants to high schools in the D.C. area, including Centreville High School in Fairfax County to support their music, dance, and theater programs. Wolf Trap will track the projects through its Virtual Stage platform. [Wolf Trap]

Pop-Up Consignment Sale Now Open at Pike 7Just Between Friends Eastern Fairfax kicked off its spring and summer sale yesterday at Pike 7 Plaza on Leesburg Pike in Vienna. The sale runs through Sunday and allows people to buy or sell toys, clothes, and other items for children. Admission is free, but tickets can be reserved through Eventbrite. [Just Between Friends/Facebook]

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Fairfax County is committing to expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults by April 18, as long as there is sufficient supply, county officials tell Tysons Reporter.

This comes on the heels of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement earlier today (April 1) that all individuals in the Commonwealth over the age of 16 should be eligible for the vaccine starting Sunday, April 18.

“I know that our residents are looking forward to getting vaccinated and to be able to again spend time with their loved ones,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement to Tysons Reporter. “Fairfax County is ready and prepared to move forward to meet the Governor’s and President Biden’s deadlines. I’m excited that we can continue to open eligibility and vaccinate even more people.”

The April 18 goal is ahead of the May 1 deadline set by President Joe Biden in mid-March for making all American adults eligible for the vaccine.

Governor Northam’s press release notes that this is because the state is making solid progress on delivering the vaccine to currently eligible populations.

“Nearly every Virginian in the highest risk groups who has pre-registered for a vaccination appointment has received one, and those still on the pre-registration list will receive appointment invitations within the next two weeks,” the governor’s office said.

The release also says that nearly 4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the Commonwealth. More than one in three adults have gotten at least one dose, and one in five are fully vaccinated.

21 out of 35 Virginia’s health districts have also moved to Phase 1c, which encompasses additional essential workers like food servers and construction workers.

After opening eligibility for all people in Phase 1b earlier this week, Fairfax County officials now say that the plan is to move to Phase 1c sometime next week to meet Northam’s target date as well as Biden’s expectation that 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible to get vaccinated by April 19.

To meet these goals, Fairfax County plans to open registration for Phase 1c early next week and transition to Phase 2 by the governor’s deadline,” the Fairfax County Health Department said in a newly published blog post.

The health department previously predicted that the county would enter Phase 1c in mid-April.

According to the county dashboard, 363,601 people have been vaccinated by the county health department or one of its partners — a nearly 10% jump from two weeks ago.

That’s approximately 32% of the county’s population, which is slightly lower than the overall percentage of Virginia residents who have been vaccinated based on the governor’s release.

As for when those eligible to register will get appointments and actual shots, that remains to be seen. The health department is currently making appointments for people who registered on March 24 and has gotten its waitlist down to less than 30,000 people.

Earlier in March, Virginia’s Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said that everyone who wants the vaccine should be able to get their first dose by May 31.

However, Fairfax County could not commit to that goal at the time. A health department spokesperson Reston Now on Tuesday that the pace of vaccine administration will depend on “many factors,” including the number of doses that the county gets from the Virginia Department of Health.

Photo via Fairfax County Health Department/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Wind Advisory in Effect Today — A wind advisory will be in effect today for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Winds could reach speeds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour. Gusts could blow around unsecured objects and result in fallen tree limbs or power disruptions. [National Weather Service, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management/Twitter]

Northam Plans to Speed Up Marijuana Legalization — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to ask the legislature to legalize the adult possession of an ounce or less of marijuana beginning on July 1, according to several sources with knowledge of the administration’s ongoing discussions with lawmakers. Lawmakers passed legislation last month that wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2024.” [VPM]

Falls Church Narrows Down Possible New School Names — Committees tasked with selecting new names for the city’s elementary and high schools will present five recommendations each to the Falls Church City School Board by April 9. The groups have whittled hundreds of suggestions down to 18 options for the high school and 53 for the middle school. The school board will make the final decisions on May 13. [Falls Church News-Press]

Greater Washington Partnership Envisions Regional Train System — “An alliance of the Washington area’s top chief executives is pushing for Maryland and Virginia commuter trains to cross jurisdictions to provide service that would be more frequent and more interconnected…It could be achieved within a quarter-century, said the group, which has rallied support from transit advocates, the region’s passenger railroads and public- and private-sector groups.” [The Washington Post]

Satellite Telecommunications Company Moves Into Tysons — SpaceLink announced earlier this week that it has established a headquarters office in Tysons. The company, which also operates in Silicon Valley and Huntsville, Alabama, is developing a “network of satellites in medium Earth orbit that will provide secure, continuous, high-bandwidth communications between its clients’ low Earth orbit spacecraft and the ground.” [Virginia Business]

Fairfax County Sees Dip in Unemployment Rate — Fairfax County’s jobless rate dropped almost half a percent between December 2020 and January 2021, according to data from the Virginia Employment Commission. However, unemployment rates throughout Northern Virginia are still more than double pre-pandemic numbers. [Sun Gazette]

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