Tysons, VA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image via Google Maps

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A rebranding effort currently underway aims to get people to identify all four square miles of Tysons as one place and not just the area by the two malls.

“It’s not about putting a new logo out there,” Drew Sunderland, the director of marketing and placemaking at Tysons Partnership, told Tysons Reporter. “The goal is to create a sense of engagement here that connects people to place.”

Sunderland said that Tysons Partnership has been working with Gensler since 2019 on a multi-phase branding effort.

“We did a very comprehensive intake of opinions and feelings from our members and also members of the community to get a feeling for the pulse here in Tysons,” he said.

In February, Tysons Partnership’s board approved the “strategic foundation” for the brand strategy, he said.

Tysons Partnership aims to reflect Tysons’ diversity in the new brand that can evolve as Tysons does, he said.

“You’re not talking about one monolithic, homogeneous, urban area — there’s a lot of different characteristics in Tysons,” he said.

As for Tysons’ eight neighborhoods, Sunderland said that the brand will let the neighborhoods and micro-communities — like The Boro — to “establish their own identities but within the greater umbrella of this Tysons brand platform.”

While the rebranding is underway, Tysons Partnership is also looking to establish a new business and funding model for the nonprofit association, which currently relies on members’ dues.

Sol Glasner, the president of Tysons Partnership, has called the members’ dues model “not sustainable.”

To help with the nonprofit’s constrained finances, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a $1 million grant for placemaking events, branding efforts, sponsorship and media outreach. Sunderland said that the grant has been matched by private members.

Sunderland said that relying on members’ dues meant that the group had limited resources when it made its “starter brand” about five years ago, which created decals on the water tank and street banners.

While sometimes lampooned, the use of the water tank for branding stemmed from its historical significance as a Civil War signal tower and convenience due to its height, Sunderland said, adding that people can expect it to be a part of the new branding effort.

“The water tower signage was sort of like a bat signal,” he said. “Tysons is more than just a mall.”

Another previous challenge was promoting pop-ups as part of the “Tysons experience,” Sunderland said.

“We struggled to get the word out that things were happening in Tysons and connecting new pop-ups to a bigger picture,” he said. “These things are not happening in a vacuum.”

People may start to see the new brand later this year, he said.

“We do want [people] to start thinking that the area that surrounds these four Metros is one place,” he said.

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(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Inova has opened three coronavirus testing sites today (Wednesday) in Northern Virginia — including one in Tysons.

Fairfax County shared that Inova’s new Respiratory Illness Clinics will evaluate patients with respiratory illness symptoms and offer tests for COVID-19 for people who have test orders from physicians.

“The Fairfax County Health Department is not involved in setting them up or running them, though we are now publicizing them,” a county spokesperson told Tysons Reporter.

More from the announcement:

Upon arrival at the Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic, a clinician will greet the patient at their vehicle to escort the patient into the respiratory clinic for evaluation or to collect samples for a physician-ordered test.

For patients who undergo COVID-19 testing, a UCC nurse will contact those whose results are negative. For patients with positive results, a UCC nurse will coordinate with the patient’s regular physician for notification and further instructions. Patients who are tested can expect results in roughly 4-7 days.

Before visiting any Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic, contact your regular physician for evaluation. For assistance with recommendations, to arrange for a physician appointment, or if you do not have a primary care physician, call 1-855-IMG-DOCS.

Your regular physician can evaluate your symptoms to determine if testing is indicated based on COVID-19 testing criteria and provide a testing order, or refer you to the Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic for evaluation.

The three testing sites are at local Inova Urgent Care Centers in Tysons, North Arlington and Chantilly. The Tysons location is 8357 Leesburg Pike.

The clinics will be open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

The Inova Urgent Care Centers at North Arlington and Tysons will only operate as respiratory illness clinics, while the Chantilly one will remain open to other patients, according to the county.

As of today, Fairfax County now has 77 presumptive positive coronavirus cases — up from 46 yesterday (Tuesday).

The state’s expanding testing capacity, which now includes commercial labs, might be behind the increase of confirmed cases.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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Due to ridership plummeting and a need to conserve cleaning supplies during the coronavirus pandemic, Metro plans to temporarily close two Tysons stations.

Metro announced last night (Tuesday) that the Greensboro and McLean stations are a part of the 17 stations that will close tomorrow (Thursday).

“While Metro increased its on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies,… other items used by Metro’s frontline employees, suppliers are experiencing delivery delays,” the announcement said. “Metro is taking action to make its current 2-3 week warehouse supply stretch until massive orders placed in late January are received.”

Metro has been urging people recently to only use the public transit system for essential trips. Last week, Metro closed the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations to discourage people from visiting the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin.

“The 19 stations will remain closed until further notice and trains will pass through without stopping,” Metro said.

Map via WMATA/Twitter

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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:

Tysons-Based Appian Tracking COVID-19 — Appian has an application that is free to its members and companies with more than 1,000 employees. The COVID-19 Response Management application collects employees’ health information and locations, keeping it in a HIPAA-compliant cloud. [Appian]

Sick? Stay Away From Fire Stations — “Unless it is a case of severe difficulty breathing or illness: there is very little, if anything we can do as far as treatment for flu symptoms. We also have NO way to determine what kind of virus someone might have. If you are feeling sick, please do not visit a fire station for evaluation.” [Fairfax County Professional Firefighters & Paramedics/Facebook]

Real ID Deadline Delayed — “President Trump on Monday said the federal government will delay requirements for Americans to obtain a Real ID to travel, citing the coronavirus.” [The Hill]

Closed Tysons Tower Club Fundraising — “During this time of uncertainty and challenge, the Women in Business Committee of the Club (WIBC) has set up the Tower Club Employee Relief Fund to help support the amazing staff of the Club who work hard to make each of us and our guests feel at home. All proceeds will be distributed to Tower Club Employees.” [GoFundMe]

The Kensington Needs Supplies — “Clorox wipes and 500 adult face masks are needed at the facility where two residents have tested positive for Covid-19. N95 respirators are preferred but the center will take any masks, including DIY versions.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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1 Million Cups Fairfax decided to move weekly meetings online to keep helping local startups and tech gurus during the coronavirus outbreak.

The group’s meetings and community events, which were usually in-person on Wednesday mornings, will be held online until further notice through a free digital software called Zoom, Silvia Ferguson, a spokesperson for the group, said.

Ferguson added that more details will be released online shortly.

1 Million Cups Fairfax, which is a part of a chapter initiative, allows local entrepreneurs to network with one another and receive feedback on business pitches.

Though Ferguson said that she isn’t sure how the economic downturn will potentially affect startups, she did say that members of Office Evolution — a co-working space that sponsors 1 Million Cups — and attendees that she has spoken to seem to be in good spirits.

The next 1 Million Cups Event will be held digitally this Wednesday (March 25)  from 9-10 a.m. People should be able to visit the event page soon for an updated link to the digital event, according to Ferguson.

Photo via 1 Million Cups/Facebook

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(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) The streets and shops around Tysons are growing increasingly deserted as more and more people stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

It appears that local residents are taking social distancing and staying at home — if possible — seriously from photos sent to Tysons Reporter by readers to a visit by our staff photographer last week.

Traffic data from Google Maps showed that traffic was reduced around 10 a.m. than it normally is at the same time on most Mondays.

The Virginia Department of Transportation’s traffic cameras show few cars on Leesburg Pike in Pimmit Hills, Chain Bridge Road at the Tysons-Vienna border, Route 50 in Falls Church and I-66 in Merrifield.

Meanwhile, I-495 near Old Dominion Drive in McLean had some cars on the highway, the cameras show.

On Wednesday (March 18). Jay Westcott, Tysons Reporter’s staff photographer, noticed a “fair amount” of traffic in the area, but less congestion on I-66 in the morning.

Westcott noted that usually busy streets around Tysons were empty.

Not that there would be much to do for people who decide to venture outside — movie theaters, performing arts centers and many retailers are temporarily closed or pivoted to online options, while events have been canceled.

While they are still open, Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center have altered their hours of operations and upped their cleaning schedules.

Local resident David Endres recently spotted seating blocked off at various spots in Tysons Corner Center:

To lower the risk of spreading the virus, eateries that have not temporarily closed have switched to delivery and take-out only options.

Westcott spotted orange plastic fencing around the seats at the McDonald’s at the intersection of Old Courthouse and Chain Bridge roads.

Meanwhile, Endres noticed these signs around Capital One’s headquarters near the McLean Metro station:

While Westcott saw few people in downtown Tysons by the malls, he did spot several people getting fresh air at local parks, like Spring Hill District Park, and along the W&OD Trail in Vienna.

While Fairfax County has closed its indoor park facilities and recreation, nature and community centers through March 29, people can still use the county’s outdoor parks and trails.

Have you recently snapped some photos of what the Tysons area is like right now? Feel free to share them with us by sending them to [email protected] or DMing us on our social media accounts: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Staff photographer Jay Westcott contributed to this story 

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An employee at Tysons-based Alarm.com has tested positive for coronavirus.

“We can confirm that an employee who works in our Tysons HQ facility tested positive,” Christopher Basso, a spokesperson for the company, told Tysons Reporter.

Headquartered at 8281 Greensboro Drive, Suite 100, the company offers security systems for homes and businesses.

“We continue to make the health and security of our employees and our communities our top priority and have taken the recommended actions to reduce the likelihood of further spread,” Basso said.

Several other employees at other Tysons-based businesses have tested positive for the virus as well, including someone who works for a tenant at 8075 Leesburg Pike, a Capital One employee and an employee for a tenant at  7799 Leesburg Pike.

Image via Google Maps

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The fire station in Tysons is at the top of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue’s list of old fire stations that need updates.

During the Planning Commission’s hearing on the Capital Improvements Program for fiscal years 2021-2025, Assistant Fire Chief Jason Jenkins said that Tysons Fire Station 29 is one of six stations built in the 1970s and 1980s that the fire department wants to revamp.

“Any of the fire stations built in the 1970s through the 1980s are reaching the end of their life,” Jenkins said. “Their capabilities, their flexibilities, their workforce — it becomes challenging to have to relocate personnel due to the lack of capabilities.”

Fire Station 29 in Tysons (1560 Spring Hill Road) was built in 1978 and is roughly 9,500 square feet, according to the CIP presentation.

Jenkins gave an overview of the plethora of deficiencies at Fire Station 29, which include:

  • too few apparatus bays (three)
  • inadequate living quarters for women
  • limited gym and fitness area
  • lack of decontamination area
  • lack of fire sprinklers in apparatus bays

As the population boom continues in the county, Jenkins said that the fire facilities need to be able to expand.

In response to Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner’s question “How do we do fire fighting in the high-rise level?” Jenkins said that fire stations need to have double the equipment to cut back their response times, which are increased due to building heights.

“So in lieu of waiting for a neighboring station to respond to a high-rise, you have duplicative resources that can respond simultaneously,” he said, adding that those resources include double the engines and paramedic units.

Now, the fire department is looking to double the size of the fire station, which would have five drive-thru bays, with funding from development proffers.

A proffer for the fire station that was negotiated in 2011 currently covers about 10% of the project’s cost.

More from the proposed CIP:

$1,417,152 has been received to date from negotiated proffer obligations to support the design and construction of a 5-bay replacement Tysons Fire Station. Additional proffer funding for the fire station will be provided as the designated Tysons development occurs.

“We have enough funding to start the design of the project,” a staffer from the Department of Public Works said.

Originally, the fire station was going to be built on the bottom of high-rise, but the plans fell through, Laurie Stone, a planner for the fire department, said. Now, the developer is providing the proffer funding over time.

“It was going to be the first proffered fire station,” Stone said. “We’re going to need the station before we have all of the proffer funding.”

The design process for the fire station begins early this spring, Jenkins said. Elsewhere around Tysons, work is underway to build the new Fire Station 44 near the McLean Metro station.

Image via Google Maps

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

Non-Coronavirus News:

McLean Student Nabs State Pageant Title — “McKenzie Watt, the 9-year-old daughter of Philip and Andra Watt of McLean, has been awarded the title ‘Little Miss of Virginia’ 2019-20 and moves on to national competition.” [Inside Nova]

Religious Broadcaster Wants Tysons-Based Tegna — “Phoenix investment firm Najafi Cos. is teaming with a faith-based broadcaster in Texas in an effort to buy Tysons-based Tegna Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Format for Vienna Candidates Debate — “The Vienna town government will record and repeatedly broadcast an audience-free Vienna Town Council candidate debate to be held April 2.” [Inside NoVa]

Coronavirus News:

FCPS Prepping for Distance Learning — “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. 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. ” [FCPS]

COVID-19 Hurting Little City Restaurants — “The hospitality industry in Falls Church and beyond is being hit especially hard with the public ramping up its social distancing effort and authorities implementing new restrictions on restaurant and bar service in an effort the prevent the spread of COVID-19.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons CEO Slams Social Distancing — “Michael Saylor, the CEO and founder of Tysons technology firm MicroStrategy Inc., called social distancing measures enacted to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus ‘soul stealing and debilitating’ and stated the company would not close any of its offices around the world unless legally required to do so.” — [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Group Helping At-Risk People — “Unlike most of her peers, senior Sophie Howery has been spending her time off to help fight the spread of the virus. To do this, Howery created the Fairfax County Community COVID Aid Project, hoping to help support those who may be at risk of contracting the coronavirus.” [The Highlander]

How Will COVID-19 Impact the Local Economy? — The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University’s recent report says that “the Washington region’s economy will also contract in the last three quarters of 2020, primarily because of decreased consumer spending and lost productivity.” [Washingtonian]

 

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