Reston, VA

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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Fairfax County workers whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 could receive a one-time hazard pay bonus of $1,500 if county leaders approve a proposal put forward on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

Fairfax County Director of Human Resources Cathy Spage told the Board of Supervisors during its budget policy committee meeting that about 4,000 county employees would be eligible for the bonus, giving the proposal an overall estimated cost of $6.5 million.

If approved, the funds would come out of $10 million in CARES Act coronavirus relief money that the county had set aside earlier for hazard pay, according to Fairfax County Department of Management and Budget Director Christina Jackson.

“I think there’s a strong desire on the board to move forward with something,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “I know there’s still some lingering debate on some pieces of this, but I think the principle here is one that is strongly supported.”

Under the county’s proposal, the hazard pay bonus will be available to workers whose exposure risk level is rated high or very high based on Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) standards established by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Adopted on July 15, the VOSH COVID-19 risk assessment puts workers in very high, high, medium, and lower risk categories based on their work environment, their proximity to people known or suspected to be infected, their ability to maintain social distancing, and other factors.

The bonus will only be open to merit employees, because the lack of standard schedules for non-merit employees would make it “problematic” to include them, according to Jackson.

Several board members raised concerns about employees being excluded from getting hazard pay despite risking infection by the novel coronavirus as part of their job. For instance, the VOSH standard classifies school settings, restaurants, and construction sites as medium risk.

“There have been outbreaks on construction sites. We know that it happens,” Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said. “Based on what I’ve read of the VOSH medium-risk categories, some of them probably make sense. Some of them make me a little bit concerned in terms of how they’re categorizing folks.”

Spage says VOSH generally limits “very high” and “high” risk designations to individuals who are unable to socially distance and work directly with people that have contracted COVID-19 or are highly likely to be positive for the disease.

“Just having contact with the public isn’t going to put you in a high or very high category,” Spage said.

Federal guidelines for using CARES Act funds for hazard pay require localities to establish specific criteria for recipients, so if Fairfax County wants to expand the pool of workers who are eligible for hazard pay, it would likely have to cover those costs on its own, Jackson says.

If the current proposal passes, the county would have about $3.5 million left that it could use for hazard pay or reallocate to other needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

McKay acknowledged that there was some pressure for Fairfax County to provide hazard pay early in the pandemic, but county leaders opted to wait until they had more data and a better understanding of COVID-19 transmission.

Some jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C., region that implemented hazard pay, including the District, have since ended their programs, while others are questioning whether they can afford to keep making the payments as the pandemic drags on.

Jackson says the proposed $1,500 bonus is in line with what Loudoun County approved in October and what Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is suggesting for state employees.

“Taking a benefit like this away from somebody once they’ve gotten used to it is never a position anyone wants to be in,” McKay said. “Given the uncertainty that we were facing this entire past year and really are continuing to face now, I think this is a responsible way to do this.”

The Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to approve hazard pay for county workers on Jan. 26. If approved, the county will complete its verification of eligible employees on Feb. 12, and the bonuses would start being paid on Feb. 26.

Staff photo by Catherine Douglas Moran

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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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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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Following a flood of demand yesterday, Fairfax County plans to launch a new online vaccine registration system as early as tomorrow that will allow residents to schedule an appointment according to the county’s Information Technology Department.

On Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the Fairfax Health District is one of several districts in the state to jumpstart the next phase of vaccinations — phase 1b. The first priority group in this phase is adults age 75 and older, followed by priority groups like police and grocery store workers.

The new system, which is currently under development, follows a pre-registration tool that was launched by the county on Monday after overwhelming demand for scheduling jammed county phone lines and flooded the overall system. The pre-registration form, which is currently open, includes pre-screening questions and was launched earlier than originally anticipated in order to shift demand from the county’s phone line to the online system. Pre-registered residents will likely be contacted via email by the county to complete the registration process.

At an IT committee meeting today, some members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors were dismayed by the initial rollout of the registration system and phone line. Overall, the county received nearly 1.2 million calls on its vaccine hotline yesterday. Within the first hour that the phone line went up, the system was jammed.

Jeff McKay, the board’s chairman, said that he was concerned the board did not receive information about the issues facing the county until around 6 p.m. yesterday.

“I know it is disappointing that we weren’t better prepared for this,” McKay said. “I will say that we need to be a lot quicker.”

He also noted that residents should be aware that phase 1b is not a first-come, first-serve system. Frontline essential workers will be vaccinated in a pre-determined order, with police, fire and hazmat workers on the top of the list.

The county is testing out the new system today in cooperation with the Fairfax County Health Department, according to Gregory Scott, director of the county’s Department of Information Technology.

His office also plans to implement a virtual system with automated chatbots and work with external vendors to help manage call volume. The county also routed some calls to a voice message that said to call back later due to busy phone lines.

“Everybody was in this predicament yesterday morning,” Scott said.

Staff noted that additional manpower may be needed to manage call volume and respond to registration forms to sort out missing or conflicting information.

For example, more than 286,000 voicemails were left on the county’s vaccination line yesterday alone. So far, the county hopes to automate as much of the registration process — including administration of the vaccine’s second dose — as much as possible.

Residents will likely receive an email about registering for the second dose, according to the county’s health department.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who chairs the IT committee, also encouraged the county to ensure the registration form is friendly for seniors. The first version of the preregistration form sent yesterday made providing a cell phone a required field, for example.

The new registration form is expected to be available as early as tomorrow, pending final testing and revisions.

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With nearly 2.1 million Virginians now eligible to receive vaccines, Fairfax County is experiencing challenges handling the overwhelming demand to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations.

The county received more than 10,000 calls in the first ten minutes the call system went live.

An online vaccine registration system that was supposed to be operational this morning is still not available, prompting Fairfax County residents to turn to a hotline for support. The number experienced such high demand that phone calls were being dropped.

“Our vaccine call center is experiencing a high call volume today and we are asking residents to be patient,” Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson Tina Dale said.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said just before noon that the phone line had been reset and is now back online.

The county health department’s online pre-screening form for confirming eligibility for the vaccine is now also available. The department will call or email those who are eligible to set up an appointment “within a few days,” according to its website.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says he understands concerns associated with the process for receiving a vaccination.

‘I share every’s frustration with this situation and appreciate the enthusiasm this shows by so many to get the vaccine as soon as possible,’ Alcorn wrote in a statement.

Alcorn, who chairs the board’s information technology committee, added that the county’s vaccine registration system will be the first agenda item for the committee meeting scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday).

Fairfax County is among several health districts in the state to begin phase 1b of vaccinations, which includes frontline essential workers, people age 75 and above, people in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps.

The state’s definition of frontline essential workers includes police, fire, teachers, food and agriculture, manufacturing, public transit, mail carriers, and other employees.

Adults above the age of 75 —  who will be vaccinated first as part of phase 1b —  can register by calling 703-324-7404. An online registration form was also launched this afternoon.

The Virginia Department of Health has also developed an online tool that people can use to find out when they will be eligible to get vaccinated.

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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As Virginia continues to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare professionals and workers in long-term care facilities, Gov. Ralph Northam provided some clarity regarding the next phase of the state’s vaccination plan during a press conference yesterday (Wednesday).

Phase 1B, the next group to be prioritized for innoculations, will focus on essential workers, people who are at high risk of being exposed to the novel coronavirus, and people who are unable to do their jobs remotely, Northam said.

The largest segment of that group will be teachers, childcare workers, and other school employees. There are roughly 285,000 teachers and childcare workers in Virginia, according to Northam’s presentation.

“They’re high on the list of essential workers, because teachers are critical to getting schools back open, and that’s critical to people getting back to work and literally getting back to normal,” Northam said. “Opening schools doesn’t depend on vaccinating teachers, but that sure will make it a lot easier.”

Phase 1B will also include first responders; grocery, agriculture, and food processing plant workers; manufacturing workers; postal workers; and bus drivers and other transit workers as well as those who are 75 and older.

Virginia is currently in Phase 1A of its vaccination plan, which is limited to healthcare workers and workers in long-term care facilities.

Northam did not provide details on when to expect the state to advance to the next phase, but he hopes the Commonwealth will eventually have the supplies to deliver 25,000 doses per day. Right now, Virginia is getting about 110,000 doses a week, or roughly 14,000 doses per day.

With a population of 8.5 million people, Virginia needs to administer 17 million shots total since the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been authorized for distribution both require two doses. That means the state will need to double its distribution rate in order to vaccinate everyone by the end of this year, Northam says.

To ensure that no doses are wasted, Northam says healthcare providers, health departments, hospitals, and any other organizations responsible for administering the vaccine must utilize their entire supply, or else risk getting fewer doses in subsequent shipments.

“You use it or you lose it,” the governor said. “So, I want you to empty those freezers and get shots in arms. No one wants to see any supplies sitting unused.”

Virginia Department of Health data shows that, as of Jan. 6, Fairfax County has administered 15,391 COVID-19 vaccine doses, more than any other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth.

Demand has “remained high” among healthcare workers since the Fairfax County Health Department received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 23, according to Tina Dale, the senior communications specialist for the county health department.

Dale says the health department has made the vaccine available by appointment at five different dispensing sites around the county. The locations have not been made public to avoid drawing visitors who are not eligible to be vaccinated yet.

“We are excited by the continued interest we have seen from people who fall into the other priority groups and continue to get questions when others can begin receiving vaccine,” Dale said. “When the Virginia Department of Health expands vaccine availability to other priority groups, vaccine could be available in a variety of ways, including healthcare providers, pharmacies and local health departments.”

In Virginia, CVS and Walgreens are facilitating the distribution of the vaccine to people who live in nursing homes as well as healthcare providers.

At a virtual town hall for the City of Falls Church with State Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-35th), Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd) acknowledged that the pace and clarity of the vaccine rollout has been frustrating for some community members.

“I don’t think anything is more important than deploying the vaccine as rapidly as humanly possible,” Simon said. “Those of you looking for more information and transparency, I heard you. Those details are coming out soon.”

Saslaw expressed hope that Virginia will reach Phase 1B before February.

“We’re a little behind right now on where we should be, but we’re hoping to catch up quickly,” Saslaw said.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report.

Photo via Fairfax County Health Department/Twitter

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Like other towns throughout the state and country, the Town of Herndon’s budget has been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than counties as other larger municipalities.

But Jennie Tripoli, the town’s finance director, hopes things will “start to turn the corner” over the summer as vaccinations and warmer weather bring more normal conditions to the area.

At a recent Herndon Town Council meeting — the first session with newly-elected members and Mayor Sheila Olem — Tripoli said that the town had to sequester roughly $5.5 million in funding in fiscal year 2021. In the next fiscal year, the town hopes to transition from surviving to reviving itself.

The currently authorized budget for FY2021 is roughly $33.3 million, a figure that is short of projections by roughly $450,000. The town received $2.4 million in funding from the federal CARES Act.

But like other towns, Herndon was excluded from the latest round of federal funding.

The challenges posed by the pandemic are unique to the town. Unlike the county, the town relies heavily on excise taxes like the meals tax for funding.

The town took big hits in many sources of revenue. For example, revenues from fines and forfeitures decreased by 44 percent, when reductions of roughly 10 percent were originally anticipated. Similarly, fees from services for parks decreased by 91 percent instead of the original 56 percent decrease projected by staff.

As the town looks toward preparing the FY2022 budget, Tripoli cautioned that much is still uncertain about the budget, consumer habits, the path of the virus, and vaccinations.

So far, the county is expecting a three-percent increase in revenues from residential real estate taxes. However, a 10 percent decrease in non-residential retail and hotels, as well as local taxes like meals and transient occupancy, is still expected for the next fiscal year.

Fees from building inspections are also expected to normalize, she said.

“We’re still in unprecedented economic uncertainty,” she said, adding that the hope is “gradual recovery” begins in the summer of this year.

The town council is expected to hold additional work sessions on the budget later this month.

Image via Herndon Town Council

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The Fairfax County School Board’s proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for Fairfax County Public Schools will not include any major adjustments or immediate big-ticket spending.

Released on Dec. 17, the proposed CIP – which sets short-term priorities for school renovations, capacity enhancements, and other infrastructure projects – remains largely the same as last year’s plan, as the uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic made FCPS officials wary of making any significant new commitments.

A virtual public hearing is planned for 7 p.m. today.

FCPS Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Transportation Services Jeff Platenberg said described the current times as “daunting.”

“We don’t want to do anything that’ll impact our facilities or our staffing, especially with the inoculation coming, the vaccines, and then, next year, [we want to] put ourselves in a position to get back to whatever the new normal might be.”

The ongoing renovation at Langstone Hughes Middle School, which was fully funded by voter-approved bonds in 2015 and 2017, is expected to be completed in $FY2022. Once completed, the school, which first opened in 1980, will include modern amenities and an addition of 53,900 square feet. The project is expected to cost roughly $52 million.

The CIP includes $39 million for a school to manage additional growth expected to be brought on by phase two of the Silver Line. A location has not yet been determined, but the project is fully funded for planning-related costs.

Roughly $42 million is proposed for Herndon Elementary School, 52 million for Hughes Elementary School, and 106 million for the ongoing renovation of and Herndon High School, which will be completed this year.

Because students have mostly been learning virtually, FCPS staff were unable to include data on the capacity utilization of individual facilities for this school year in the CIP. Fluctuating attendance also precluded staff from making five-year projections for future student enrollment.

According to a presentation that Platenberg gave to the school board on Tuesday (Jan. 5), FCPS shed 8,338 students between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. The losses predominately came at the elementary school level, which saw a drop in membership of 7,729 students.

Because FCPS is not adding any new projects with the proposed CIP, the school system will be able to focus on the many needs that it has already identified, Platenberg says.

Overall, the proposed CIP carries a five-year requirement of $1.1 billion. While only $314.8 million of that is currently covered, Platenberg says the unfunded commitment should be addressed by future bond referendums.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the CIP on Feb. 4.

Images via FCPS

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Thursday Morning Notes

COVID-19 Means Big Growth for Reston Company — “A virtual care startup working to help doctors manage telehealth is raising its first funding round to build up its team and expand its reach, after breaking out of stealth mode and into an explosive growth year fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.” [Washington Business Journal]

Northam: ‘Virginia Will Be There’ — In a recent press release, Northam says, “I continue to pray for the safety of every member of the House and Senate, all the staff, the journalists, everyone who works in the Capitol. And I commend the Virginia National Guard and Virginia State Police for quickly stepping up in this time of great need. Let me be clear: Virginia will be there for as long as it takes to protect our nation’s capital and ensure the peaceful transfer of power.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Reston Firm Sells Off Division — Reston-based civil engineering and surveying firm Wiles Mensch Corp. announced Tuesday that it has sold off its federal projects division, which now operates as an independent. [Virginia Business]

State Considers Speeding Up Vaccinations — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced new actions to support the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution program and accelerate the pace of vaccinations across Virginia.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Photo by vantagehill/Flickr

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Fairfax County Public Schools students will not start returning to in-person learning next week as planned.

After getting an update on local COVID-19 trends last night (Tuesday), the Fairfax County School Board gave its support to FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand’s suggestion that the school system delay bringing students back into buildings until February at the earliest.

“We can take some of the feedback today…and take a pause right now and come back with some more information about vaccinations and a revised timeline with input from our principals and our teachers,” Brabrand said.

All students are currently learning virtually after a two-week winter break, but FCPS had hoped to restart in-person instruction for some students in special education and career and technical programs on Jan. 12.

Other students were scheduled to follow in phases over the next month, with the last group of middle and high school students starting hybrid in-person learning on Feb. 9.

However, with COVID-19 surging in Fairfax County and vaccines not yet rolling out to school employees, school board members, principals, and teachers’ unions expressed concern that it would be unsafe for both students and workers to restart in-person learning.

Virginia Department of Health data shows that Fairfax County has exceeded multiple thresholds established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for determining the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.

As of today, the county is averaging 520.6 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, and the 14-day testing positivity rate is at 13%. The number of new cases per 100,000 people in the past week is up 26.2% compared with the previous week.

In addition, FCPS has recorded 649 COVID-19 cases among employees, students, and visitors since Sept. 8. Brabrand told the school board that there have been 20 outbreaks in school facilities, even though only 11,810 students and staff have participated in in-person instruction this school year.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, which represents FCPS educators and staff, has pointed to those case rates as evidence that the school system has not adequately implemented mitigation measures like social distancing and face masks that would reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“We are deeply concerned that FCPS is rushing to reopen schools while COVID-19 cases are surging like never before,” FCFT President Tina Williams said in a statement issued prior to last night’s school board meeting. “We all want nothing more than for students and staff to return to school for face-to-face instruction, but right now, it just is not safe.”

Brabrand told the school board that he will bring a presentation reevaluating how FCPS should proceed with its Return to School plan on Feb. 2.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Virginia Polar Dip Goes Virtual — The annual event is going virtual this year due to the pandemic. Camp Sunshine is allowing participants to take patron several virtual events at any point between Feb. 6-14. [Camp Sunshine]

Microsoft Expands with New Lease — The company is expanding its presence in Northern Virginia by signing a lease in Rosslyn. [Bisnow]

Local Music Students to Perform in Virtual Concert — ‘Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) choral teachers have put together a virtual choral concert and presentation involving 350 middle and high school students from 37 secondary schools. The concert and presentation of student work will air at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27.’ [FCPS]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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The First Responders Council of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce delivered meals to first responders during the holidays.

The annual drive, which has been in effect for the last 11 years, raised more than $6,000 for more than 500 meals in Reston last month. Food was purchased from local restaurants that are struggled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Now more than ever the restaurants and First Responders are deservingly soaking up any bit of support from the community,’ GRCC wrote in a statement.

In previous years, food was donated by restaurant instead of being purchased.

Drive sponsors included the following :

  • Dave & JoAnne Adams Group – Coldwell Bank Realty
  • CST Group CPAs, PC
  • Thompson Hospitality
  • Chick-Fil-A – North Point Village
  • Force Security Services, LLC
  • Offit Kurman
  • BluePrint Financial Group
  • BEI
  • Pineapple Payments
  • Edward Jones Investments – Gene Summerlin
  • Maggie Parker
  • Huey & Associates
  • Fatech International
  • Katherine & John Deming
  • Ellen & Mike Jennings
  • Allen & Jennifer Herzberg
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10,565 Fairfax County residents have now received a dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for distribution as of Sunday (Jan. 3).

That is by far the most vaccine doses that have been administered in a single locality in Virginia, according to a Virginia Department of Health dashboard, which shows that no other locality has administered more than 5,000 doses.

Like the rest of the country, Fairfax County is in the 1A phase of the vaccine distribution process, meaning that vaccinations are limited to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents. Some emergency responders with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department have also gotten vaccinated.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that were granted emergency use authorizations by the federal government both require two doses that are administered three or four weeks apart. No Virginia residents have gotten a second dose of either vaccine yet.

The vaccine rollout has been slower than anticipated. Virginia has distributed 404,675 doses to healthcare providers, but only 87,618 doses have been administered so far, according to the state health department.

Meanwhile, the Fairfax Health District reported 353 new COVID-19 cases today (Monday) for a total of 46,595 cases since the pandemic began. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has killed 703 people in the district, which includes the Cities of Falls Church and Fairfax as well as the county, and put 3,032 people in the hospital.

Today’s caseload breaks Fairfax County’s streak of four consecutive days with more than 500 new cases that started on New Year’s Eve. The county’s current seven-day average is 472.9 cases.

Virginia recorded more than 5,000 new cases in a single day for the first time on Dec. 31 and has now exceeded that number three times within the past week.

Worse may be to come as the Commonwealth and the U.S. as a whole starts to see the impact of holiday gatherings and travel.

The Transportation Security Administration reported this morning that it screened 1.3 million people at airport checkpoints nationwide on Sunday, the highest volume since the COVID-19 pandemic hit early last year. TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said that yesterday marked the eighth time in the past 12 days that airports recorded more than 1 million travelers.

Photo via Fairfax County Health Department

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