Reston, VA

(Updated with information about rental events and guest counts) Despite strong recommendations from federal, state and county officials to cancel large gatherings due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Reston Association allowed social gatherings with more than 20 people to take place at The Lake House.

The community building, which is located at 11450 Baron Cameron Avenue, is available for rent for weddings, birthday parties, and other events. Cars with license plates from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and other nearby states were spotted in the facility’s parking lot on the evening of Sunday, March 22.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam officially banned all gatherings of 10 people or more starting on Tuesday (March 24). But prior to the ban, local, state and federal officials urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. In mid-March, Northam issued a public health emergency order banning more than 10 patrons in restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters. He also issued an order banning gatherings of more than 100 people on March 15.

On March 18, the Centers for Disease Control strongly urged that groups with 10 or more people not gather.

“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said. “Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies.”

When asked how many guests were in attendance, RA spokesman Mike Leone said the organization did not have any events with more than 100 people “because The Lake House can’t host a tabled event for that many people.” He also noted that after March 15 order, the facility was no longer configured for theater-style seating, which can seat up to 145 people.

After this article was published, the RA clarified that two rentals occurred within the 8-day period between March 15 and March 22. On March 14, a wedding took place with 80 guests and on March 22 a baby shower with 70 guests.

The association’s staff reached out to individuals with rental agreements to see if they were interested in canceling their events prior to Tuesday.

“At that time, federal and state government strongly urged individuals to not have social gatherings over 10 people — but there was no formal order in place mandating that. Most of the events that continued to take place at The Lake House were weddings and lifetime celebrations — as was the case this past weekend. These types of events, especially weddings and wedding-related events were planned months, and in some cases a year or more in advance, making couples elect to move forward with their once in lifetime celebration,” Leone said.

Leone said that RA took proactive measures to “socially distance staff while events were taking place” and disinfected all tables before and after events. A professional cleaning crew also came into the venue after an event to “disinfect the entire facility.”

He also noted that many individuals would have trouble rebooking elsewhere and had “already sent out invitations to guests months in advance.”

“We left it to the individual/couple to make the decision if they wish to move forward and refunds were provided to those who canceled their reservations.”

However, the RA took a stricter approach with activities, events, and services directly under its purview after the statewide ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.

The Walker Nature Center’s Nature House was closed to the public on Monday, March 16. All recreational activities and events were canceled through March 29, according to a March 10 press release.

In a March 16 letter to members, RA CEO Hank Lynch discontinued all walk-in service at RA’s headquarters due to the “need to support social distancing.” Members were directed to pay their annual fees online, call or email staff, or drop-off payments in a box at the building. The payment process has been plagued by technical issues.

Since the ban went into effect, RA says it has taken immediate steps to cancel all reservations through mid-May at The Lake House, conference center, Brown’s Chapel, the Glade Room, and picnic pavilions.

“We know this will create a hardship for some who have planned their wedding or celebration during that time period but we must comply with the Governor’s order. We will continue to monitor the coronavirus and will not continue event rentals until it is safe to do so,” Leone said.

Photo via Reston Association

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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? With social distancing in place, you may have more time on your hands.

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

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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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The Instruments of the Orchestra

The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington Maestro Dimitar Nikolov Conducts Alec Wilder’s: A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra and all its Instruments Awaken Your Child’s Mind, Health and Creativity with Music.

Reston Association has canceled all committee and board meetings through the end of next month.

The move was prompted by efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The association is also canceling all activities, programs, and events until further notice.

Here’s more from RA:

The association has installed signs at tot lots throughout Reston that offer the following tips related to preventing the spread of COVID-19:

– Wash your hands before and after using playground equipment.

– Stay at least six feet away from other children and adults.

– Do not gather in groups of 10 people or more.

– Please do not use this recreational facility if sick.

– Sneeze or cough into a tissue or inside your elbow.

We have also closed public restrooms at Lake Newport, Glade and Autumnwood recreation facilities.

RA encourages all its members to stay safe and abide by the guidelines set by Fairfax County, state and federal agencies.

Although the association’s member service department is closed, staff will be on-call on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Walker Nature Center and Central Services Facility is also closed to the public.

Phone call hours will be extended until 8 p.m.. on Monday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 31 to allow members to pay assessment fees by phone or via WebTrac. Fees are due by March 31.

It is unclear how the closures will impact RA’s ongoing election for its Board of Directors.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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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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Thursday Morning Notes

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn: Reston Master Plan Review Delayed“We’ve had to delay initiation of the planned task force process,” Alcorn said, Wednesday morning during a video call with reporters. “We’ve heard from a number of folks who had volunteered to be on a task force. I don’t expect we’re going to initiate any task force activity until we make sure we can have a robust process.” [Reston Patch]

Distinguishing Between Social Distancing, Quarantine, Self-Isolating — Social distancing refers to staying out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance from others when possible. Self-Isolating refers to staying at home, not going out, and not accepting any visitors. [Fairfax County Government]

Three Inova Respiratory Illness Clinics Open — Three Urgent Care locations in Dulles South, North Arlington and Tysons will conduct physician-ordered tests and evaluate patients with respiratory illness symptoms. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Previously approved plans for the redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House are coming closer to reality following the securement of $3 million from the county.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday (Tuesday) to authorize the county’s housing authority to provide a $3 million loan for the project.

“The folks that are living in the existing Lake Anne Fellowship House have been waiting for this for a long time,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn. “I think everything about it is actually quite straightforward and I’m very excited about having this move forward even in these uncertain times.”

Pat Herrity’s attempt to defer the vote failed. Herrity said he was concerned about approving the loan during “different and difficult times.”

The redevelopment plan ensures the 240-unit development, which offers affordable housing for seniors in Reston, will remain affordable for the next 30 years.

The plan, which was approved in Oct. 2018, would redevelop two aging buildings built in the 1970s, into a single building along North Shore Drive. Fellowship Square Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and maintains the current facility, and the Community Preservation and Development Corp., also plans to add 36 market-rate townhouses to the west of the property in order to help finance the construction of senior housing.

Construction is expected to begin in May, according to county documents.

Here’s more from the county on the project:

The Project will also be much more livable than Fellowship House: 100 percent of the units, and all of the common areas, are designed to Universal Design standards. Further, 54 of the units are designed to be fully accessible under the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, which is nearly double the accessibility code requirement. The units will be built to EarthCraft standards of energy efficiency. Fellowship House currently has a “two-pipe” central heating and cooling system, but the units in the new building will each have efficient, individually controlled HVAC systems.

To encourage energy conservation, the apartments will be individually metered for electricity. The residents will receive a utility allowance as part of their rent calculation. The Project will include extensive amenity spaces, including a business center, garden center, arts and crafts room, wellness room, game room and cybercafé. The Project includes an approximately 8,000 square-foot private outdoor terrace for the residents as well as an interactive tot lot and pocket park which will be available to the community at large.

The developers have also secured tax-exempt bonds from the Virginia Housing Development Authority.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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Along with a myriad of other events, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in Reston has been rescheduled for later this year.

Event organizers made the call yesterday (March 24) to postpone the festival, which brings together a variety of handcrafted art pieces, until September due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.

Now, the festival is set to take place from September 11-13, according to the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).

“Our first priority is the health and well-being of our artists, volunteers, sponsors, and patrons,” GRACE’s Associate Curator and Festival Director, Erica Harrison said in the press release.

This annual event draws more than 30,000 guests from around the D.C. area, according to a press release.

As originally planned, the festival will still take place at the Reston Town Center.

Photo via Northern Virginia Arts Festival/Facebook

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The number of known coronavirus cases in Fairfax County has jumped by a little over 65 percent overnight. The county now has 76 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 46 yesterday (Tuesday).

The county has the most number of cases, followed by Arlington, which has 46 cases, according to recently released statistics from the Virginia Department of Health.

So far, the state has 391 cases of the more than 5,370 people who have been tested. Nine people have died as a result of the respiratory illness.

The state’s testing capacity has expanded to include commercial labs, which could explain the jump in confirmed cases.

Inova Urgent Care locations in Dulles South, north Arlington and Tysons will begin evaluating patients with respiratory illness symptoms and collecting samples for physician-ordered tests from patients’ vehicles.

Here’s more from the county on the new clinics:

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.

These clinics will be open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Addresses and contact information for the Inova Respiratory Illness Clinics are:

  • Inova Urgent Care – Dulles South
    24801 Pinebrook Rd. #110
    Chantilly, VA 20152
    703-722-2500
  • Inova Urgent Care – North Arlington
    4600 Lee Hwy.
    Arlington, VA  22207
    571-492-3080
  • Inova Urgent Care – Tysons
    8357 Leesburg Pike
    Vienna, VA 22182
    571-665-6440

Inova Urgent Care Center at North Arlington and Tysons will operate exclusively as respiratory illness clinics.  All other urgent care centers, including Inova Urgent Care – Dulles South, remain open to see all patients.

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The U.S. Census count is underway, the enormous effort happens once every 10 years to count every person living in the United States regardless of age or immigration status.

The census helps determine how much funding Fairfax County receives from money allocated by the federal government to improve transportation, provide education, healthcare, affordable housing and prepare for emergencies. It also determines how many representatives are sent to Richmond and Washington D.C to advocate for the county.

According to the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, Fairfax County could lose $12,000 in potential funding over the course of a decade for each person who does not respond to the census.

In March, the U.S. Census Bureau began mailing every household an invitation to complete a simple questionnaire about who lives at their address on April 1. People can respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail.

The census will ask for names, age, sex, race and the relation of everyone living in each household. Federal law keeps those responses safe, secure and confidential.

Everyone should be counted to ensure Fairfax County receives its fair share of federal funds and representation.

Learn more at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/topics/census.

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