Reston, VA

Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the first weekend with a stay-at-home order in effect, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Trash, Recycling Changes in Fairfax County Start Today
  2. Fairfax County Schools to Begin Online Learning on April 14
  3. BREAKING: Northam Issues Stay-at-Home Order for Virginia
  4. As Testing Capacity Expands, Fairfax County Sees Jump in COVID-19 Cases
  5. Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Continue to Climb in Fairfax County

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.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Since 2013, Reston Now has been reporting news about the Reston and Herndon areas. Recently, we started providing additional coverage of Great Falls.

Keep up with our coverage by signing up for our email subscriptions.

The afternoon email — sent at 4 p.m. — rounds up the most recently published stories and sponsored content on our site. Our morning email is currently on a hiatus.

You can also opt in to receive emails we send on behalf of local businesses and nonprofits. If you opt-out, you’ll still receive an occasional event or offer-related email as part of your subscription.

Note: we will never share your email address with a third-party.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our email subscriptions already!

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Del. Ken Plum/File photo

This 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.

Among the decisive moves taken by Governor Ralph Northam, also a physician, to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth was the closing of all public schools for the remainder of the school year. There is little or no opportunity for establishing social distancing in crowded school buildings with young people who are naturally inclined to do anything but keep their distance from each other. There have been many humorous references on social media to parents who find themselves unexpectedly having to home school their children. The situation created is another one during this pandemic for which there really are no good options. Classes will not be held, SOL tests will not be administered, traditional social and athletic events will not take place.

Do not make the mistake, however, of believing that learning will not be taking place while with our children and grandchildren we wait out the passing or defeat of the virus. The fact of the matter is that the children of our community as well as we adults are experiencing a lifetime event that we will never forget. Our country will have gone from a time of prosperity to the largest government bail-out ever in the history of our country. Many businesses will fail, and the breadth of our economic inequality will become even more painfully apparent. I am not sure what our social, governmental and business institutions will look like when we can proclaim that the pandemic is over, but I believe there is the potential that they will be improved.

For the children who are not in formal instruction there will be much learning beyond the fact that a virus not visible to the human eye can bring the world to a halt. Children will learn from what is happening in their own surroundings. Just how many children in our community depend on food available through the schools? Did we notice the adults who sprang into action contributing to school pantries to make sure that others are fed? Are we aware as we miss a favorite sports game or school party of the number of classmates who never had an expectation of being able to participate?

That learning on the part of our children will come from their observations of how adults around them in their homes or in the media react to what is happening. Do adults in the community play by the rules or stretch the rules to their personal advantage? Do adults hide behind words that have limited meaning in other situations to limit our response to what is needed? Do the adults in their lives show a selflessness in looking out for others?

Schools are closed for a very real emergency, but learning will continue to take place. No longer is the responsibility for teaching left to the classroom. Now more than ever it is up to us as adults to be role models in a crisis that will teach our children more than they ever would have learned otherwise!

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into another weekend of social distancing, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. JUST IN: FCPS Closed until End of School Year
  2. JUST IN: Fairfax County to Close All Parks, Keeps Trails Open
  3. As Testing Capacity Expands, Fairfax County COVID-19 Cases Jump Overnight
  4. Coronavirus Cases in Fairfax County Jump to 31 Over the Weekend
  5. Despite COVID-19 Warnings from Officials, Reston Association Allowed Large Gatherings

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. A number of carryout and delivery options are available locally.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Calling all local photographers: Reston Now is looking for your photos of Reston, Herndon and Great Falls.

Whether you’re a photography pro or just love snapping pictures with your smartphone, we are always looking to include seasonal photos in our Morning Notes on weekdays or reshare pictures on our social media accounts.

As we also followed the advice of public health experts, we’re especially interested to see your photos of social distancing (or lack thereof) in the area.

To send us your photos, email us at [email protected], tag us in your photo on social media or join our Reston Now Flickr page.

You will always receive credit for the photo — either with your username or actual name.

Thank you to photographers who have already sent us photos.

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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.
I hope you are hunkered down as you read this column as I am hunkered down writing it. No one wants to get sick with a nasty virus, and certainly no one wants to be responsible for getting someone else sick with something that can be deadly.
The rules to follow are incredibly simple: wash your hands with soap on both sides for about 20 seconds many times a day; stay away from others for several feet and especially do not go into any kind of crowd. If you need to sneeze or cough, do it in a tissue that you throw or flush away. If you get a fever and a dry cough, contact your doctor or the health department.

The final advice that might be the hardest for active persons like I am is to stay sane. Wrapping up an amazing and historic session of the General Assembly like this last one has been has kept me busy for several weeks. While I have received more notes of thanks and appreciation than ever after a legislative session, I also want to thank those who have taken the time to send me a note or email. As many have expressed, it was a historic, transformative, and consequential session! I was honored to be part of it.

The session gives us a solid footing upon which we can move forward. Unfortunately, the economic slump we are entering may even be worse than the one in 2008 and may hamper progress in funding very important programs. We must not falter on funding critical health care programs both for physical and mental health. And we must continue our effort to ensure that everyone has access to health insurance. Our current health crisis reminds us that much work needs to be done to provide mandated paid sick leave for everyone.

We got a start on raising the minimum wage, but we need to continue a pathway to $15 per hour. The so-called right-to-work law needs to be repealed to give workers greater protections.

The criminal justice system got attention this past legislative session, but a great deal of work needs to be done to ensure that it is a just system. We need to shut off the classroom to prison pipeline that too often has treated youthful behavior as crimes. Small amounts of marijuana were decriminalized this session, but the entire range of drug crimes and rehabilitation needs review. Likewise, the parole system needs reform with an emphasis on restorative justice. The death penalty that is seldom used needs to be repealed.

A major transportation package that passed needs continuous review. With an increasing number of vehicles using electricity for power, the revenue from the gasoline tax will shrink. We took significant strides in protecting our environment, but there is much work to be done.

Hunkering down gives us time to celebrate our accomplishments, but the time of reflection and contemplation also reminds us that much more is left to be done.

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Since 2013, Reston Now has been reporting news about the Reston and Herndon areas. Recently, we started providing additional coverage of Great Falls.

Keep up with our coverage by signing up for our email subscriptions.

The afternoon email — sent at 4 p.m. — rounds up the most recently published stories and sponsored content on our site. Our morning email is currently on a hiatus.

You can also opt in to receive emails we send on behalf of local businesses and nonprofits. If you opt-out, you’ll still receive an occasional event or offer-related email as part of your subscription.

Note: we will never share your email address with a third-party.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our email subscriptions already!

Not receiving emails or want to change your subscriptions? You can re-enter your email in the subscription sign-up, which will then pop up a message saying that email is already subscribed. The message will prompt you to update your profile, which will then send you an email that will let you manage your subscriptions.

Subscribe to Reston Now

* indicates required

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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.

The General Assembly session that adjourned last week was a busy one; 3,001 bills and resolutions were introduced, and 1,351 of those passed. But the historic nature of the session was not in the number of bills introduced: it was in the shift in philosophy governing the state that went from conservative to progressive. The Associated Press termed it “one of the most consequential sessions in Virginia’s history.”

Some of the more noteworthy bills that passed are summarized below. I voted for them unless otherwise noted.

The General Assembly ratified the Equal Right Amendment after about 40 years of refusing to do so. Virginia is the 38th state to ratify the ERA; federal courts will decide if the amendment was ratified within the deadline set for it.

Numerous laws that had been put in place over the last several decades to make it difficult for a woman to have access to an abortion were repealed including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and ultrasound testing. Dozens of Jim Crow era laws that limited the rights of Black people were removed from the code as they had been declared unconstitutional by federal courts years ago. Local governments were given authority to determine the fate of Confederate monuments in their jurisdictions.

The Virginia Values Act prohibits discrimination in housing and employment for all persons. My bill to bring protections of the hate crime law to all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity passed as did other bills to prohibit LGBTQ discrimination. Conversion therapy on minors is banned under a new law.

Major bills passed to make voting easier. No-excuse absentee voting passed, and election day will now be a holiday. Repeal of the photo ID requirement for voting passed.

The environment received extra attention. The Clean Energy Act sets Virginia on course to be carbon neutral by 2045 as well setting timelines on the move to wind and solar power and the use of more renewables. My bill to clean up the Chesapeake Bay with more nutrient management of agricultural run-off passed as did my bill to manage the menhaden fishery as an important part of the ecology of the Bay.

Seven of the eight bills to end gun violence proposed by Governor Northam passed including my bill to establish universal background checks for all firearm purchases. Other bills to limit handgun purchases to one a month passed as did a bill to limit gun possession for persons who are the subject of a restrictive order for violent behavior.

The biggest step in decades towards transportation improvements passed. The additional gas tax raised by the bill will provide monies necessary to improve the roads in the state as well as provide monies for mass transit and rail. A bill to ban holding a cell phone while driving passed. No longer will driver’s licenses be suspended for unpaid court fees and fines under a bill that passed. Undocumented immigrants will be able to get a driver’s license.

For workers, the minimum wage will be going up from its current $7.25 to $9.50 this year and to $12 in three years. My bill to raise the minimum wage at a greater level was incorporated into the bill that passed. A bill to allow collective bargaining between local governments and their employees passed.

Balance billing for hospital and medical costs are eliminated by another bill that passed. A Virginia health insurance exchange will be established to replace the federal one.

I voted against a bill that passed that allows five cities to have a referendum on casino gambling. I voted for a bill that will ban thousands of slot-machine-like games of skills in restaurants and stores.

Possession of a small amount of marijuana has been decriminalized. As part of legislation to end the school-to-prison pipeline, a bill passed to prohibit students from being found guilty of disorderly conduct for actions in school.

A constitutional amendment to have a 16-member panel of legislators and citizens redraw legislative and congressional district lines passed for a second time and will be on the ballot for voter approval in November.

A $135 billion biennial budget provides more money for pre-school education, raises for teachers and state employees, more school counselors, more developmental disability waiver slots, free community college for certain eligible students, among other improvements.

For more information on bills summarized here and on other legislation passed, go to https://lis.virginia.gov/. Most bills have not been signed by the Governor but are expected to be.
File photo

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Updated at 4:55 p.m. — “Kaiser has set up five different sites across the region for members with a doctor’s prescription for testing,” WTOP reported. “The health maintenance organization has testing sites in Baltimore, Largo, Gaithersburg, Tysons Corner and Woodbridge.”

Drive-thru coronavirus testing sites are starting to pop up around the U.S. to screen patients for the virus.

Fairfax County doesn’t have any plans at the moment to open a drive-through testing site, Ali Althen, a spokesperson for Fairfax County, told Tysons Reporter yesterday.

“The decision to open sites would likely be made by the medical community and not the county government,” Althen said.

Earlier this week, Arlington County and Virginia Hospital teamed up for a drive-thru testing site to cut down on the number of people trying to get tested at hospitals and doctor’s offices.

“Arlington residents, county and school system employees and Virginia Hospital Center patients, who are experiencing symptoms consistent with coronavirus and have a written order from a healthcare provider, will be eligible for testing,” ARLnow reported.

As of Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 77 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, with 14 in Fairfax County.

If the county does decide to open drive-thru sites, it would let people know “across our channels to help members of the public find and make use of those sites as necessary and appropriate,” Althen said.

On Thursday afternoon, Fairfax County released more information about testing sites:

Up until recently, COVID-19 testing was only available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state laboratories, with local health departments like ours helping to coordinate and facilitate those tests based on very specific testing criteria. Now that we have commercial laboratories testing capability, physicians have wider latitude to order testing.

Still, several challenges have limited testing for Fairfax County residents:

  1. With shortages of personal protective equipment across the nation, health care providers who lack recommended protective equipment may not test because of the risk to their health and ability to continue providing care in the community.
  2. The materials needed for specimen collection before being sent to the lab are in limited supply nationwide.

The Health Department does not evaluate patients or collect specimens for commercial testing because these functions are best performed by primary care providers, urgent care centers or Emergency Departments where a complete medical evaluation, radiology, and other types of laboratory testing are available.

Let us know what you think of the coronavirus drive-thru sites in the poll below.

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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More and more states are ordering eateries and entertainment venues to close or switch to delivery and take-out only to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

When the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to declare a local emergency earlier this morning, several supervisors mentioned how the county has limited authority to plan restrictions on eating establishments.

“We don’t have as much authority as people think we do,” Vice-Chair Penny Gross said. “We’re also at the mercy of the governor.”

A few days ago, D.C.’s mayor imposed new restrictions on restaurants and bars, prohibiting table seating and allowing them to offer delivery or take-out options. The restrictions also force nightclubs, theaters and health clubs to close for at least two weeks.

Municipalities have limited authority to take action because Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, Arlington Magazine reported, adding that Gov. Ralph Northam could issue a statewide declaration similar to Maryland’s.

Northam said this morning that the state will follow the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation to prevent gatherings of 10 or more people, but that he does not plan to place restrictions on restaurants, WHSV reported.

Northam is “asking them to abide by the ‘rule of 10’ and… encouraging them to focus on delivery and takeout options, instead of in-house dining,” according to WHSV.

“At least 20 states have ordered that their restaurants and bars close to in-person diners amid the coronavirus pandemic,” The Hill reported earlier today.

The limited authority didn’t stop neighboring Arlington County to plead with restaurants and bars to “take responsible action and switch from dine-in service to only offering carryout and delivery.”

While the statement noted that Arlington County does not have the legal authority to force the changes, it said that COVID-19 cases could overwhelm Arlington if restaurants don’t limit community contact.

As of Monday, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County — a number that officials say is expected to grow.

Photo via Bombay Velvet

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Top Stories This Week

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

  1. Report: Parishioner Defies Coronavirus Self-Quarantine, Golfs in Reston
  2. Boston Properties Seeks Parking Drop Near Reston Town Center Metro Station
  3. Fairfax County Identifies Two Presumptive Coronavirus Cases
  4. JUST IN: FCPS to Close on Monday to Plan for Coronavirus
  5. Fairfax County Board Defers Decision on Parking Drop at Reston Gateway Project

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 weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. As the Fairfax County Health Department says, don’t forget to sanitize as if you’ve touched a thousand crabs and now need to put on your contact lenses.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Have thoughts about Reston Now’s coverage of Reston, Herndon and Great Falls? Want to share your opinions about local issues?

Reston Now welcomes letters to the editors and op-eds of specific interest to the Reston, Herndon and Great Falls community.

The key difference is that an op-ed can be an opinion piece about a local issue, while a letter to the editor responds directly to a Reston Now story.

Please email it to [email protected] You are also welcome to contact us with your idea for feedback before submitting it.

While there is no word limit, we suggest under 1,000 words. Contributions may be edited for length, content and style/grammar.

Reston Now does not publish op-eds relating to a specific candidate running for political office — either from the candidate’s team or opponents.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted op-eds and letters to the editor already.

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Top Stories This Week

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

  1. North Shore Pool to Close for 2020 Season
  2. Capital One to Close Great Falls Location
  3. Suspect Charged with Rape of Juvenile in Herndon
  4. Damage to Barrier Closes Hunter Mill Road Bridge
  5. After Founder’s Death, Dance Shop Moving to New Herndon Spot

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 weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo courtesy Caitlin Kenney

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Calling all local photographers: Reston Now is looking for your photos of Reston, Herndon and Great Falls.

Whether you’re a photography pro or just love snapping pictures with your smartphone, we are always looking to include seasonal photos in our Morning Notes on weekdays or reshare pictures on our social media accounts.

To send us your photos, email us at [email protected], tag us in your photo on social media or join our Reston Now Flickr page.

You will always receive credit for the photo — either with your username or actual name.

Thank you to photographers who have already sent us photos.

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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.

The General Assembly is in the final week of its scheduled 60-day annual session–scheduled to adjourn sine die on March 7. The session has already made history with the actions that have been taken, and that history will be added to in its last week. Resolution of remaining issues will determine just how historic the session will be and how strong the forces of “we have always done it this way” are.

A majority of both the House and the Senate members agree that the minimum wage should be increased–actually should have been increased years ago. The current minimum of $7.25 is an embarrassment. But discussions continue to be held on how much the increase should be. Should there be incremental increases over time? Should increases be statewide or regional? What jobs should the increase cover?

Almost every member ran for office with a promise to clean up the environment. How should we get to a cleaner economy in the state? What should be the timeline on environmental legislation as experts advise us on the impending climate change crisis? Are consumers willing to pay more to get cleaner electricity?

How strict should background checks be for firearm transfers? A slim majority support my bill to require a background check on all firearm transfers. Others are vehement about having background checks for only firearm purchases. Should compromises be made on gun safety measures designed to reduce gun-related violence?

Should public employees be allowed to bargain with local governments on the conditions and compensation for employment? Or should they only be able to meet and discuss their wages and conditions with local governments with no power to bargain? Should all employees be required to pay dues to unions that are representing their interests?

How often should vehicles have a safety inspection? For many years the requirement was twice annually. Most recently it has been once annually. Most states have dropped the requirement. Would every other year be adequate?

With gasoline tax revenues declining as automobiles get more mileage per gallon, should the gas tax be increased to make up for the loss? Or should cars be taxed on the distance they travel in a year? And what about electric vehicles that do not burn any gas? Should we be making a greater investment in our transportation infrastructure?

Should a constitutional amendment be approved setting up an independent redistricting commission or is there another way to try make sure districts can be drawn fairly without incumbents alone picking their voters?

I have made my views public on these and other issues over the years. In a legislative session all views must be considered: urban, suburban, rural; Democratic, Republican, Socialist (there is one); conservative, moderate, liberal; etc. In most instances a compromise can be reached in conference committees such as those that are now meeting. Other issues will be put off for another year. Regardless of what happens with remaining issues, the 2020 session will go down in history as truly a remarkable one with the many tough issues that have already been resolved.

File photo

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