(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.
Two Injured in Fire at CIA HQ — Two CIA employees were transported to a hospital for possible smoke inhalation after a fire broke out at the agency’s headquarters in McLean on Saturday (Oct. 2). The “small building fire” was extinguished by sprinklers around 12:30 a.m., according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, and the cause hasn’t been determined. [WTOP]
Parents Protest Outside McAuliffe Campaign Office — Fairfax County police responded to a protest of about 20 people outside Terry McAuliffe’s campaign office on Jones Branch Drive in McLean on Friday (Oct. 1). A passerby told Tysons Reporter that the parents, who police said “were peacefully demonstrating,” were “incensed” by the Democratic gubernatorial nominee saying in a recent debate that he doesn’t think “parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Founders Row Welcomes First Residents — “After a decade since the project was first proposed, the first 20 residents began moving in this Monday [Sept. 27] to the massive 4.3 acre Founders Row development project at the intersection of W. Broad and N. West Street in the City of Falls Church.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Tysons Corner Bloomingdale’s Burgled — “COMMERICAL BURGLARY: 8100 Tysons Corner Center (Bloomingdales), 9/27/21, 4:40 a.m. Someone forced entry into the business and took property.” [Fairfax County Police Department]
Cha Tea House started from a place of familial love and a bit of naiveté.
Co-owners Sofhia and Usman Qamar and Suhail and Saba Kamran launched the family-run business with two food trucks and some outdoor seating behind Springfield Town Center on Oct. 17, 2020 out of a desire to recreate the relaxed, sociable atmosphere of the roadside eateries common in their native Pakistan.
However, none of the owners had any previous experience in the food industry, admits Sofhia Qamar, a high school teacher. Her partners in the venture are an accountant, a wedding decorator, and an entrepreneur.
As a result, the group had to learn to adapt quickly, a necessary skill for any small business owner even without the new anxieties introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The first weekend, we prepped enough for a thousand orders. We thought, okay, this will last us three days,” Sofhia said. “We ran out of food after two hours of being open on the first day, and it hasn’t stopped…The feedback that we’ve gotten has been absolutely amazing.”
Cha Tea House has proven so successful in its first year that the team is now preparing to open its first brick-and-mortar location at Tysons Corner Center, potentially as soon as the first week of November before the holiday season kicks into gear.
Located on the mall’s second floor between &Pizza and Cava Mezze Grill, the cafe will offer indoor and outdoor seating with a patio that will be outfitted with lights and heaters for when the weather gets colder.
While the menu will be mostly the same, with paratha rolls and other entrees, snacks, milkshakes, and mojitos in addition to the signature teas, the Tysons site will allow Cha Tea House to expand its offerings with more fresh pastries, desserts, and salads, Sofhia says.
The company also hopes to expand its customer base outside of the community of South Asians, many of them immigrants, that have coalesced around the cafe in Springfield.
“Part of our drive to open it was to be able to share that feeling of home with people who are expatriates, who are foreign and miss that from the country that they left behind,” Sofhia said. “But the other part was to share it with people who don’t know a lot about Pakistan, so we thought Tysons would be a great place for that, because it is still very diverse.”
The dhabas that inspired Cha Tea House are roadside restaurants or food stalls that sell tea and snacks to patrons who consume them while sitting outside. They tend to be modest in appearance, but Sofhia says they’re “the best places to get food.”
She describes their function as closer to that of a bar than the on-the-go mentality of an American coffee shop. With tea substituted for alcohol, particularly in Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, patrons visit as much for the opportunity to socialize as the food and drink.
“In our culture, tea is basically the thing that you surround yourself with when you’re having social gatherings, so our tea houses are where everyone goes to connect and talk and hang out,” Sofhia explained to Tysons Reporter.
In that same spirit, Cha Tea House hosts performances by local musicians and other artists every Saturday night, a tradition that will carry over to the Tysons Corner Center location with an emphasis on young students, singers, poets, and writers.
Cha also strives to cultivate a feeling of community by donating a portion of its profits to select nonprofit organizations. The current beneficiary is the Karachi Down Syndrome Program, which provides support and resources to individuals with Down syndrome who live in the Pakistani city.
Sofhia, whose daughter has Down syndrome, says the program seemed appropriate for their mission and background, but Cha hopes to support more organizations as it expands.
“We’re looking forward to making partnerships at Tysons and being not just in the community, but being a member of that community,” she said.
While Bisnonna Bakeshop got the most high-profile welcome, the Italian bakery isn’t the only recent newcomer to Tysons Corner Center.
One week earlier, Extreme Halloween started haunting the mall’s large, vacant space next to Brandbox, opening its doors on Sept. 11. The pop-up store sells costumes, wigs, and decorations on a seasonal basis.
According to Extreme Halloween manager Dennis Bracey, the company previously visited Tysons Corner Center in 2009 and decided to return after getting a call from the mall about filling the open space. The pop-up will stick around until Nov. 2.
Tysons Corner is also preparing for the opening of Miniso, an international lifestyle retailer that sells toys, office supplies, and other low-cost goods. The store is located in the atrium centered around the conveyer-belt sushi bar Wasabi.
Though it describes itself as “Japanese-inspired” and sports an aesthetic sensibility similar to popular Japanese chains like Uniqlo, Miniso actually originated in Guangzhou, China, in 2013. The company now boasts more than 4,200 stores in over 80 countries and plans to double its U.S. presence this year, including with a new flagship store in New York City.
Last week, Tysons Corner Center said it expected Miniso to open that Friday (Sept. 17), but as of yesterday (Thursday), its doors remained closed. A spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that it’s “getting close” to opening.
Other recent changes at the mall include the addition of Middle Eastern eatery Marhaba to the third-floor food court, and furniture store Lovesac’s relocation to a spot near Wasabi that used to be occupied by sports gear retailer LIDS, which now has a permanent space by Hollister Co.
A Lovesac employee told Tysons Reporter that the relocation is temporary, anticipated to last about two months while its original space beside Claire’s gets remodeled. The renovated showroom will get a grand reopening in November.
The Tysons Corner Center’s directory lists a number of other retailers as “coming soon,” including ones like Fantasticks and Chopathi Indian Kitchen that were announced this summer.
Other upcoming additions are ZWILLING, a German company that sells kitchen tools, and the luxury fashion store Aritzia, which is scheduled to open next to the Tesla showroom this winter, according to a large sign covering its storefront.
“Each Aritzia destination is considered individually in order to create resonant, welcoming places that provide for rich, memorable, human experiences — which is exactly why we decided to open at Tysons Corner,” Aritzia said in an emailed statement, adding that more details will be shared as the opening gets closer.
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 9:05 a.m. on 9/23/2021) Nicole Liberatore has come a long way from handing cannoli to customers in a parking lot.
Less than two years after they started selling traditional Italian baked goods out of their Annandale home, Liberatore and her husband Dominick have turned their Bisnonna Bakeshop into a brick-and-mortar store at Tysons Corner Center, which welcomed its new arrival on Saturday (Sept. 18) with much fanfare.
“This has definitely been a real Cinderella story for us,” Liberatore told Tysons Reporter while piping creamy ricotta cheese filling into tubes of fried pastry dough.
The fairy godmother came in the form of Tysons Corner Center’s first-ever DreamStart competition, a “Shark Tank”-style contest where entrepreneurs pitched a product, service, or business concept for the opportunity to get three months of free rent at the mall, among other prizes.
Tysons Corner Center launched the competition in May with the dual goal of supporting local businesses and attracting new tenants to fill its vacant spaces, including the corner spot across from Barnes & Noble that Bisnonna has taken over from the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant.
While the 53-year-old shopping center has been insulated from some of COVID-19’s effects, the past year has still required a whirlwind of adjustments, as the pandemic accelerated some trends, like the shift to online shopping, that were already challenging traditional retailers and the malls that relied on them.
“Everybody’s been affected in different ways, so it’s all about being nimble and making sure we’re able to adapt not just to the pandemic, but all the things that change in the retail industry,” Tysons Corner Center Senior Manager of Business Development Services Becca Willcox said.
After the competition’s 21 applicants were whittled down to nine finalists, Bisnonna was named the grand prize winner on Aug. 11. The runners-up were fashion boutique Garçon Melanie, which opened on Aug. 28, and The Popcorn Bag DC, which is still in the works.
Willcox says the winners stood out as much for the narratives that their owners told as the products they sell. The property team from Macerich, which owns Tysons Corner Center, was especially drawn to Liberatore’s story of starting Bisnonna with recipes passed down from her and her husband’s grandparents.
“The family roots that they have…the way they take a traditional Italian pastry and infuse the cultures that are prominent here in the Northern Virginia area really stood out to us,” Willcox said. “It made us see that there was a big hole in what we offered here in Tysons and an opportunity to be able to really connect with the community through delicious food and product.” Read More
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]
(Updated at 8 p.m. on 9/15/2021) Mickey Mouse is packing up his bags and will soon say farewell to Tysons Corner Center.
The Disney store will close its doors by Sept. 22 after more than three decades at the mall, joining dozens of other brick-and-mortar locations across the country that the company is shuttering to focus more on online retail.
(Correction: This article originally said the Disney store opened at Tysons Corner Center in April 2012. That was the opening of the current remodeled store. The original, larger store had been around since the late 1980s.)
As recently as the end of August, the Tysons Corner store looked like it might be spared, but Disney’s shop locator was updated within the past week to indicate that the location will indeed close on or before Sept. 22, news further confirmed by signs set up at the store entrance.
The store saw a steady stream of customers coming and going early yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). Banners advertised a 40% discount on all products, though an employee informed visitors that all sales are final, meaning there can be no refunds or returns.
“While consumer behavior has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” Stephanie Young, Disney’s president of consumer products, games, and publishing said in the press release. “…We now plan to create a more flexible, interconnected ecommerce experience that gives consumers easy access to unique, high-quality products across all our franchises.”
The media conglomerate said it will continue to maintain physical stores in its theme parks and inside other retailers, such Target, which plans to add more than 100 new Disney shops within its big-box stores by the end of the year.
Vienna Church Assists with Afghan Resettlement Efforts — The Vienna Presbyterian Church is working with OneHeartDC and Lutheran Social Services to support the ongoing effort to help Afghan refugees who have come to Northern Virginia after fleeing their now-Taliban-controlled homeland. The church is specifically asking for donations of “welcome home kits” that can be dropped off at 123 Park Street NE on Wednesday or Thursday (Sept. 1 and 2). [Patch]
McLean-Based Firefighter Dies — “The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is deeply saddened to announce the death of Firefighter Kevin Weaver, who passed away Saturday, August 28, 2021. Firefighter Weaver has been a valued member of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department since joining in September 2018 as a member of Recruit Class 144. He was assigned to Fire Station 1, McLean, at the time of his passing.” [FCFRD/Facebook]
Vienna Planning Commission Approves Cottage Development — “A proposal to build 12 “cottage-style” housing units at 117-121 Courthouse Road, S.W., received the Vienna Planning Commission’s unanimous approval Aug. 25 and now heads to the Town Council. Developer Dennis Rice of JDA Custom Homes is proposing to build six two-family dwellings clustered along a common green.” [Sun Gazette]
Tysons Corner Disney Store To Survive Closures — The Disney store at Tysons Corner Center will be the last one standing in Northern Virginia with its lone remaining companion at Potomac Mills set to shutter by Sept. 15. The company is closing all about a couple dozen of its physical stores this year to focus on online retail, though Target is planning to open more than 100 Disney shops inside its stores by the end of 2021. [Patch]
Tysons Interfaith Hosts Essay Contest on Post-COVID Future — “Tysons Interfaith, a coalition of 19 faith communities in the Tysons area, is sponsoring an art and essay contest focusing on positive lessons from the COVID pandemic. ‘A Whole New World Starts Now’ will offer cash prizes for those in three age groups: youth (12 and under), teen (13-18) and adult…Entries will be accepted through Oct. 15, with award winners announced Nov. 1.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]