Reston, VA

Wednesday Morning Notes

Pickleball Survey Open through Jan. 24 — The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking the public’s input on how to support the emerging support. An online survey is open through Jan. 24. [Fairfax County Government]

Local DNA Tech Company Cracks More Cold Cases — Parabon NanoLabs, a Reston-based company, generated a total of 50 leads nationwide last year. Two cases were from Montgomery County and Arlington. [Local DVM]

What to Know About the Inauguration Today — The county government and schools will be closed today. The county joins state officials and regional leaders in urging the public to observe safely at home and not visit DC over the course of the week. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Fairfax County Police Department is preparing for Inauguration Day tomorrow with a heightened police presence throughout the county.

In a statement to Reston Now, FCPD said the department’s focus is safeguarding the community, major thoroughfares, critical infrastructure, and transit hubs.

FCPD has also staffed its civil disturbance unit, neighborhood patrols, and operational support units if they are needed in an emergency situation.

“Community members can expect to see an increased and vigilant police presence and if they have any concerns or observe any suspicious or. concerning activity, we encourage them to report it to an officer or call 911,” FCPD wrote in a statement.

The department noted that the county had an increased presence in past inaugurations.

FCPD deployed officers to DC to help law enforcement agencies to quell the U.S. Capital riots, which were started by a mob of Donald Trump. supporters.

No police officers were seriously injured earlier this month.  When asked by Reston Now, FCPD did not immediately indicate if it plans to formally deploy any officers to DC.

number of bridges connecting D.C. to Arlington are either completely shut down or have severely altered traffic patterns. Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. It was closed and then reopened over the weekend.

DC-bound lanes on Roosevelt Bridge, I-395 Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to the Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of DC road closures

Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Rd/MacArthur Blvd, this also according to the advisory. 

Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland.

Matt Blitz contributed reporting to this story.

Photo via FCPD

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The first day of pre-screening and vaccine registration for Fairfax County residents between the ages of 65 and 74 and those with high-risk medical conditions began with a bumpy start after the county’s system went down for most of the morning on Monday.

Now, as the system returns to normal and vaccine registration resumes, county officials are urging residents to remain patient. Instead of contacting the county through the health department’s vaccine hotline, officials encourage residents to complete an online pre-screening form and appointment questionnaire instead of calling the county’s hotline.

Still, some residents — including frontline healthcare workers who received the first dose of the vaccine in December — say they’re still receiving uncertain answers about when to schedule their second dose.

A local healthcare worker told Reston Now that she and several others she knows have had trouble receiving any information from the health department on when the second dose will take be administered. All residents receive a vaccination card and are required to receive a second dose of the two-course vaccine roughly four weeks after the first dose.

But some say they haven’t received any information on when the second dose will be available.

“I have called the department hundreds of times to attempt to schedule the second required vaccine,” a healthcare worker told Reston Now. ‘A week ago, I literally called 50 times and was unable to get through to speak to someone.”

When residents were able to get someone on the line, the information provided was scant, the source told Reston Now.

“A system that is already overloaded is becoming even more overwhelmed.”

Tina Dale, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Health Department, told Reston Now that residents do not need to call the health department to schedule the second dose of the vaccine. The health department will provide residents with a link to schedule their next appointment by email.

The earliest the second dose can be administered by the health department is late this week.

But it may be weeks before registered residents receive information from the health department to register an appointment.

Within the first few hours of pre-registration opening on Saturday, the county received more than 33,000 new registrations. Gov. Ralph Northam recently expanded the number of eligible Virginians who can register for the vaccine.

Now, more than 40 percent of the county’s total population is eligible to register for a vaccine. The Fairfax County Public Schools System began vaccinating employees on Jan. 16. Vaccinations for FCPS are offered through the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax.

Once all residents are pre-screening through the online form or by phone, they will be contacted by the health department for scheduling. The county has also launched a webpage with commonly asked questions about the vaccine.

“There is a very limited supply of vaccine from the Virginia Department of Health and the county is constantly working to get more,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in a statement. “This process will take months, not days.”

Technical difficulties with the county’s IT vendor prompted delays on Saturday morning. The county’s phone lines were once again overwhelmed with an influx of calls.

Alcorn said that while he understands the issues were unforeseen, challenges so far are “still not acceptable.”

“We need to do better.”

Photo via FCPS

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Reston has been ranked as the number one place to work from home.

According to a recent ranking from Money magazine, Reston came on the top of a national list, which considers the cost of living, safety, education quality the number of residents working from home, access to necessities like daycares and pharmacies, and sufficient internet connection.

The magazine states that Reston was “practically designed with the remote employee in mind.”

The ranking comes as Americans across the country make the transition to remote work, transforming living rooms into work stations and closets into virtual classrooms.

According to a recent survey by Redfin, roughly 72 pe recent of homebuyers expects to continue working remotely after the pandemic winds down.

Here’s what Money had to say about Reston.

Built from the ground up in the 1960s, Reston is a planned residential community created to be a green suburb where families could live, play and work without having to rely on a car.

The census-designated place has 55 miles of paved pedestrian pathways and trails that connect the various neighborhoods and a majority of residents live within a 10 minute-walk of one of Reston’s 73 parks. It’s home to two golf courses and four man-made lakes perfect for fishing, boating, or lakeside picnics.

The city has one main town center and five village centers — one for each neighborhood. Residents boast about the endless food options they offer. Like Cafesano in South Reston, where you can enjoy a $14 steak kabob seated on a deck that overlook Lake Thoreau.

The city is no stranger to work-from-home families so it’s well-equipped to take care of your remote needs. Pre-pandemic, about 6.3% of Reston residents worked from home, compared to the national rate of 4.5%.

Nearly all households have an adequate internet connection by the BroadbandNow definition. But if you need access to an office, Washington D.C. is only a 33-minute drive away (or 45 minutes and $8 via public transportation). In the opposite direction, Washington-Dulles International Airport is only 15 minutes by car (or 20 minutes and $2 on the Fairfax Connector).

The community has a median home price of $434,000 and roughly 88 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Overall, a little over 3 percent of residents were working from home before the pandemic.

Other areas that ranked high on Money’s list include Naperville, Illinois., Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Roseville, California.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Top Stories This Week


Before we head off into another weekend with COVID-19 abound, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Fairfax County Health Department Director Answers COVID-19 Vaccine Questions At Town Hall
  2. Fairfax County to Launch New Vaccine Registration Form After Overwhelming Demand Jams System
  3. Man Arrested in Barricade Situation in Herndon
  4. Fairfax County COVID-19 Cases Continue to Soar as Expanded Vaccinations Begin Today
  5. As Vaccine Pool Expands, County Registration Line Hit By Overwhelming Demand

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your social distancing plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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A man was robbed at gunpoint by three juveniles in Reston on Jan. 10, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

Two juveniles were arrested and charged with robbery and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, police said. Information about the third juvenile involved in the incident was not available.

Police believe the man was waiting at 4 p.m. near the 1500 block of Cameron Crescent Drive when the juveniles robbed the man at gunpoint and ran away.

No other information about the incident was released.

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More than 40 percent of Fairfax County’s population can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine following Gov. Ralph Northam’s expansion of eligibility requirements.

Now, people age 65 and above and people between the ages of 16 and 64 with high-risk medical conditions to a disability can register to receive the vaccine as part of phase 1b. Prior to Northam’s announcement yesterday, these groups were part of the next phase of the vaccine’s administration.

But county officials it may take months to get through phase 1b, which prioritizes people age 75 and above and essential frontline workers like school staff, police, and grocery store workers.

The availability to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available,the county wrote in a statement yesterday. The vaccine supply in the U.S. is still very limited and is expected to increase gradually over the next months.

Although it may take weeks before vaccines are formally administered, the Fairfax County Health Department will begin registering individuals in the newly-eligible group on Jan. 18.

Northam expects all Virginians to be vaccinated by the middle of the summer.

“This means about half of Virginia is now eligible to receive the vaccine. That’s a major logistical effort, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.

So far, the state has received 943,000 doses of the vaccine and administered roughly 242,000 doses. On average, the state is administering 12,000 doses daily — far from the governor’s long-term goal of 50,000 doses. Overall, the state is receiving 110,000 doses of the vaccine per week.

Northam is also encouraging schools to reopen, noting that six months of data from schools around the state suggests that school can reopen if appropriate safety protocols are in place. The newly-released guidance creates a five-step program to guide decision making on reopening.

The county plans to launch an online form to register for the vaccine today via its vaccine webpage. Residents should be able to schedule a time themselves based on eligibility, availability of appointments, and vaccine interview, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

The health department previously launched a pre-screening form on Monday to allow people to pre-register for the vaccine. Residents can also call the county’s vaccine hotline at 703-324-7404 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and on weekends between 9;30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The department will contact individuals who complete the pre-screening form depending on vaccine supply and appointment availability.

Demand for the vaccine flooded the county’s call lines on Monday, prompting local elected officials to encourage the county to improve its communications strategy.

Meanwhile, Walgreens is offering rapid antigen testing across select locations in the state. The new partnership with the Virginia Department of Health, which was announced yesterday, allows adults and children age three and above to receive a test. Walgreen’s testing site is located in Centreville at 13926 Lee Highway.

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Friday Morning Notes

Coronavirus Positive Average Continues Downward Trendhe positive average of coronavirus tests in Virginia continues downward Thursday after reaching the highest level since the spring. Statewide, the seven-day average of positive PCR tests is 15.5 percent as of Jan. 10. In the early days of 2021, the average climbed above 17 percent.’ [Reston Patch]

Leidos Acquires 1901 Group — The Reston-based company acquired 1901 Group for roughly $215 million. The company provides managed IT services and cloud solutions in the private and public market. [Inside NOVA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Herndon officially has one less Starbucks location.

As of Dec. 27, the location at 13035A Worldgate Drive in Worldgate Centre shuttered its doors.

A spokesperson for Starbucks told Reston Now that the location was closed as part of a standard course of business” that aims to ensure a health store portfolio.”

“We look forward to continuing to serve the Herndon community and encourage our customers to visit us at our other stores in the area,” the spokesperson wrote.

Coffee lovers can still enjoy coffee at Weird Brothers, which has a location at 12825 Worldgate Drive in the Worldgate Metro Office Park. Starbucks also has other nearby locations at Village Center and on Elden Street.

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Del. Ken Plum: Insurrection

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Last Thursday’s one-word headline in the Richmond Times Dispatch was in such a large font that it extended across the entire width of the newspaper: INSURRECTION. The generally conservative newspaper that was in its history the mouthpiece of massive resistance against school desegregation could have termed the events at the United States Capitol the previous day a riot, a disturbance, or a protest. That they and many others chose insurrection as the best description of what happened is an indication of the seriousness of it.

No one expressed the situation better than Senator Mitt Romney in his prepared speech delivered at the Capitol as soon as the insurrectionists had been forced out: “We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States.”

An insurrection is defined legally as the act or an instance of revolting especially violently against civil or political authority or against an established government. Under federal law, whoever incites, assists, or engages in any insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined and/or imprisoned; and shall be incapable of holding any office in the future.

The rights to assemble and to petition the government are protected in the Constitution. America is known for its open protests to bring injustices to the attention of government officials and the public. Some would say that such actions are as American as apple pie. What happened last week is different. Incited and directed by the President of the United States, his lawyer and a retired general who was recently pardoned by the President, thousands of persons marched from near the White House to the United States Capitol where for the first time since the British occupied the Capitol in 1814 took over the building for a short time.

It is essential that the Congress and the justice system take appropriate action against those who incited, led and participated in the insurrection. Defense of our democracy demands it. Likewise, we need to understand why the Capitol was left so defenseless when it was well known that a major bullying of the Congress was going to take place that day as the President had been talking about for weeks.

The Guardian offered a perspective: “A group of white supremacists from throughout the country who had been radicalized by the rants and misinformation from the President occupied a space that has been the citadel of democracy.” About the ease with which the insurrectionists took over the Capitol it observed, “The contrast with the mass deployments of over 5,000 troops for the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer could not have been more glaring. Then, Washington resembled a city under occupation.”

Through what has been one of the most disturbing days of our history I remain hopeful that we will be able to undo the many wrongs of the last four years and the racism of hundreds of years. I pledge myself to working as hard as I can to make it happen!

Photo via Ken Plum

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Thursday Morning Notes


Airbnb Cancels Area Reservations — “Airbnb says it is cancelling bookings for next week in the D.C. area, in response to threats of violence during the Inauguration week.” [ARLnow]

FCPS Announces Vaccine Schedule — “The COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to FCPS staff via Inova Health System, in partnership with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), starting this Saturday, January 16, 2021. All FCPS employees will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine as a part of the Virginia Department of Health 1b group of other essential workers.” [FCPS]

Lane Closures Planned on Dulles Toll Road — “Beginning on or about Thursday, Jan. 14,  at 10 p.m. to Friday, Jan. 15, at 5 a.m., Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project (DCMP) crews will be performing pedestrian bridge utility work along the eastbound Dulles Toll Road (DTR) requiring the full closure of three left lanes beginning at mile marker 1.6 on the west end of Innovation Station and continuing to mile marker 5.0 on the east end of Reston Station.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Fairfax County will receive an additional $34 million to provide emergency rental assistance to residents experiencing economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a budget policy committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Fairfax County Department of Management and Budget Director Christina Jackson told the county board of supervisors that the department has submitted a certification for the award, and the amount is expected to be confirmed today.

The money comes from a $25 billion emergency rental assistance program that the U.S. Treasury Department established using funds from the COVID-19 relief package that Congress passed at the end of December.

“This will be huge,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “I know we feel good about it, but obviously, there are a lot of folks out there struggling, and this will be a great opportunity to help those folks.”

Under the treasury program, renters may be eligible to receive assistance if at least one or more people in their household has experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic, are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, or have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income.

Applicants can receive up to 12 months of assistance, with the possibility of an additional three months if needed to ensure housing stability and funds are still available.

The treasury is allocating the funds directly to states and local governments with more than 200,000 residents.

Jackson says the treasury is required to disperse all of the program funds by the end of January, so the county should have “dollars in hand” by the end of the month.

“We’re working with staff to try to incorporate this funding with other awards that we’ve received to make sure we’re using all the resources to our advantage,” Jackson said.

Because of the incoming grant, the Fairfax County Department of Management and Budget is recommending that the county increase its COVID-19 grants reserve by $50 million as part of its Fiscal Year 2021 mid-year budget review.

To offset anticipated revenue losses, the county plans to take $9.1 million out of a general fund reserve that the board of supervisors set up in May to support its coronavirus response efforts.

If the adjustment is approved, the COVID-19 reserve will have $16 million remaining, including roughly $12 million that the county mostly plans to use for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements.

As part of the mid-year review, Fairfax County staff are also recommending that the county create 13 new positions in the health department to boost its pandemic response, especially when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination program. The positions would be initially covered by federal stimulus funds.

“We’re in constant contact with the health department relative to the continuous pivoting in response to COVID,” Fairfax County Chief Financial Officer Joe Mondoro said. “There are a number of other activities that they’re undertaking to respond to…whether that’s the need for additional contact tracers, whether that’s the escalation of the vaccination requirements.”

The board of supervisors will hold a public hearing and take action on the FY 2021 budget mid-year review when it meets on Jan. 26.

Photo via Fairfax County government/Facebook

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Reston Association is planning to refine its official position on Fairfax County’s Zoning Ordinance Modernization Project (zMOD), a major overhaul of the county’s zoning regulations.

The Board of Directors will meet on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. to formalize a response to the project. The special meeting, which will take place virtually via Zoom, follows concern from the board about the project.

In a Nov. 25 letter, the board highlighted areas of concern to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Board President Julie Bitzer noted that the timing and approval of the project were of concern, especially since she said the public and other stakeholders did not have sufficient time to review and comment on the 741-page draft of the ordinance.

The letter also cited concerns about dropping some requirements surrounding home-based businesses that “will only create conflicts among neighbors regarding parking, access, and traffic.”

RA plans to submit a more detailed position to the Fairfax County Planning Commission ahead of a public hearing that’s set for Jan. 28.

Information on how to join the Zoom meeting is available online.

Image via handout/Fairfax County Government

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As the population pool eligible to receive vaccinations expanded in Fairfax County on Monday, some local pregnant women are mulling whether or not to receive the vaccine amid limited data on its safety during pregnancy.

So far, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that pregnant women who are groups recommended to receive the vaccine — including healthcare personnel and frontline essential workers — can choose to get vaccinated. Pregnant women with COVID-19 have an increased risk of several illness.

But with limited data available on the effects of the vaccine on pregnancy, local obstetricians and hospitals are leaving the decision to expectant mothers.

Tina Dale, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Health Department, said that getting vaccinated is a “personal choice” for people who are pregnant.

“People who are pregnant and are eligible because they are in Phase 1a or 1b should consult with their OB/GYN in order to help make the best decision,” Dale told Reston Now.

The CDC has offered only general considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

A Herndon woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she has not announced her first pregnancy yet, says she is not convinced there is enough research about the possible risks associated with the vaccine.

For now, she’s buckling down on wearing a mask in all social settings and at the small business she owns. She plans to deliver at Reston Hospital Center.

“I am working in my business under limited hours. It is very challenging because as a business owner, you want to be hands-on, by now my role has to shift a bit and more responsibilities go to my staff.”

Reston Hospital Center is also encouraging pregnant women to turn to doctors for advice. Some offer clear-cut answers while others leave the final decision to their patients.

“The hospital would recommend that pregnant women seek input from their personal OB/GYN and primary care physician,” wrote Todd McGovern, the hospital’s communications director, in a statement to Reston Now.

Kathryn Wiard, a Reston mother, says her doctors have recommended getting the vaccine. Although she says she’s on the fence, her ‘gut instinct’ says that she should get it.

I am less worried since the vaccine is mRNA based, and not a live virus strain. I will have an April delivery and with the covid numbers increasing, I am very anxious about going to the hospital in general, and while the vaccine isn’t perfect- it does provide a little bit more peace of mind,” Wiard said.

She plans to deliver at Reston Hospital Center in April. Whether she ultimately gets the vaccine or not, she plans to go through labor and delivery without the presence of her husband to protect her husband and toddler from COVID-19.

Her bigger worry is the safety risks associated with hospitals.

Regardless of the vaccine, the entire pandemic has me very wary of medical facilities, she says.

The CDC plans to formally study the effect of the vaccine on pregnant and lactating women in the coming weeks. 

Photo by Aditya Romasa/Unsplash

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Local College Student Launches Tutoring Company — ‘In the wake of the coronavirus and its impact on students’ learning in Fairfax County Public Schools, a 2019 alumnus of South Lakes High School in Reston and second-year engineering student at Georgia Institute of Engineering recently founded S4S Tutoring.’ [The Connection]

Deputy Sheriff Dies from COVID-19 — Frederick Butch Cameron, a deputy sheriff with the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, died in the line of duty yesterday due to COVID-19. [Fairfax Sheriff]

Customs Officers Revive Woman at Dulles Airport — ‘Customs and Border Protection officers helped to revive an unconscious woman who had stopped breathing Sunday morning at Washington Dulles International Airport. The 50-year-old Indian national had traveled to Virginia with her husband on a flight Sunday morning from New Delhi, India.’ [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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