Reston, VA

Metro’s services are gearing up for a return to a new normal.

More buses, trains and expanded hours of service are planned to begin this Sunday (Aug. 16), restoring most service to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Metrorail plans to add 15 hours of more service per week. Opening times will also return to normal, with the system closing two hours later each night in anticipation of ridership increases after Labor Day.

The system is expected to restore roughly 75 percent of its pre-pandemic service beginning August 23. Buses would operate until midnight and weekday service would return with 174 routes.

The opening of six Fairfax County stations on the Silver Line — including Wiehle-Reston East — is also on track to open on Sunday.

Here’s more from Metro on the planned service changes:

Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays and close daily at 11 p.m.

Weekdays Red Line trains will operate every 5 minutes during peak periods and 12 minutes off-peak; all others lines every 8 minutes during peak periods and 15 minutes off-peak.

On weekends Red Line trains will operate every 12 minutes; all other lines every 15 minutes.

Six stations west of Ballston re-open – McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East and West Falls Church.

Arlington Cemetery Station remains closed as Arlington National Cemetery is currently closed to the general public. 

Face masks or covering are required to travel on Metro, including at stations, trains, buses and MetroAccess vehicles.

Metro also warns that social distancing may be impossible due to projected ridership increases. Customers can consider traveling during off-peak hours.

Photo via Fairfax Connector

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JINYA Ramen Bar will open in in Reston Town Center this Friday (August 14).

The restaurant is takeout and delivery online due the COVID-19 pandemic at the new location (11964 Market Street). Orders can be placed online or via common delivery platforms like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Indoor dining is expected to resume in the fall. Items on the menu include mini tacos, rice bowls, ramen, curry, and salads.

For the first 10 days of business, the RTC location will offer a pork-based ramen bowl called Tonkotsu Black Ramen for $10. Other special crisis include $8 for three cocktails and $8 for chicken tenders with beers.

Here’s more from the company on the special items being offered:

The Tonkotsu Black Ramen boasts a satisfying pork broth simmered for 20 hours, balanced with fresh thin noodles and garlic oil, and topped with pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, fried onion and spicy sauce. JINYA provides a wide range of ramen bowls in addition to salads, rice and curry bowls, mini tacos, and small plates. 

JINYA’s selected cocktail specials include the Garden of Todai-Ji with matcha-infused tequila, rose water, basil, simple syrup, lime and prosecco. The other two options are the JINYA Manhattan with Filibuster Boondoggler Whiskey and the Purple Dragon Mule. 

The Reston location will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday through Sunday.

The chain has several locations across the country, including Fairfax, North Bethesda, and the District.

Photo via JINYA

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Report on Oral Health in Virginia — “Gaps in oral health access and utilization between lower-income and higher-income Northern Virginians are as profound as they were a decade ago, report cites.” [Northern Virginia Health Foundation]

Cornerstones to Host Forum on Economic Stability — The Reston-based nonprofit organization is hosting a forum with elected officials on economic recovery in Northern Virginia after the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum takes place online tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. [Cornerstones]

Coronavirus Collides with Cardboard Boat Regatta — “Reston Historic Trust & Museum canceled its fourth annual Cardboard Boat Regatta due to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place the organization presents the 2020 Cardboard Challenge during the entire month of August.” [The Connection]

Reston Association Announces More Pool Openings — Season four, which runs from August 24 through September 7, will feature the pools at Glade, Golf Course Island, Lake Newport and Ridge Heights. The pools at Lake Newport and Ridge Heights will be open for season five from September 8-20. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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At the Reston Hospital Center, staff members are seeing a decline in both COVID-19 and non-COVID-related patients.

Compared to August of 2019, Reston Hospital Center Emergency Room admissions are down 20 percent and the hospital only had six COVID-19 patients currently, which is the lowest number since May, according to David Jacobs, the chairman and medical director for Reston Hospital Center’s emergency department.

But, this trend is concerning, Jacobs said — especially when it comes to non-COVID related visits.

The downward trend is partially due to people avoiding the emergency room in fear of catching COVID-19 at the facility. Additionally, people aren’t coming in close contact with others, and therefore avoiding catching other communicable diseases, Jacobs added.

Jacobs says he’s concerned over the drop in admissions since this means people might not be seeking help when they need it, leading to medical complications that otherwise would have been avoidable.

Examples of this include not being able to diagnose appendicitis in time or someone ignoring the beginning stages of a heart attack, Jacobs said.

To keep people safe when they come into the emergency room, the Reston Hospital Center has set up strict protocols, according to Jacobs. These include separating people with COVID-19 from other patients, use of personal protective equipment, regular temperature checks, the requirement of face masks for anyone who enters the building and frequent cleaning.

When considering a visit to the emergency room, Jacobs said there is little risk of catching COVID-19 at the facility since staff members stick to the health protocols set in place. It is far more dangerous to ignore symptoms and avoid seeking medical help, he said.

Jacobs said people should seek immediate medical attention when they notice warning signs such as:

  • difficulty speaking
  • unusual and sudden weakness in legs or arms
  • chest pain
  • new or worsening abdominal pain

One grievance Jacobs said he has heard repeatedly from patients is that they find it difficult to schedule a time to meet with their regular health care providers.

“I think the whole medical system is readjusting and struggling with how to safely see patients,” he said, adding that Reston Hospital Center has availability for people who need to be seen. “We are open and we have capacity.”

Practitioners are also concerned about an increase in drug and alcohol abuse.

“I think more people are out of work and have more time on their hands,” he said adding that people have also been coming in with mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts that can feed off from stress associated with the pandemic.

Though the medical facility doesn’t have a detox center on-site, it does have medical professionals who can give consultations and direct people towards further help.

Some good news is on the horizon. Unlike elsewhere in the country, Jacobs said he hasn’t noticed a rise in child abuse or domestic violence cases at Reston Hospital Center.

“I’ve certainly heard and read about that but can’t say that I’ve experienced that or heard about a spike in the Reston area,” he said. “I think that’s an issue of concern that follows with a lot of these drug and alcohol and psychiatric related issues but I think to-date we haven’t seen a spike in our department.”

Going forward, Jacobs said he hopes people won’t avoid the emergency room because of fear over COVID-19, as hesitation could be deadly.

“We have five months of experience with this,” he said.

Photo courtesy Reston Hospital Center

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Fairfax County Public Schools invites the local community to a virtual town hall on Wednesday.

FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand will discuss the virtual return to school on Sep. 8 and address any questions. The event plans to run from 6-7 p.m.

People interested in viewing can watch via the livestream or on Channel 99. Questions regarding the virtual start to the school year can be sent to [email protected] or to 1-800-231-6359.

According to a recent message from Brabrand, weekly town halls will resume starting with tomorrow’s town hall.

Image via Fairfax County Public Schools

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A temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings will remain in effect from this week through Sept. 7, according to a Virginia Supreme Court Order.

The move comes amid an ongoing Congressional stalemate over the next economic relief package.

In a statement on Monday (Aug. 10) Gov. Ralph Northam said the decision is necessary to ensure all Virginians maintain “safe, stable housing” as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. He hopes to work with the Commonwealth’s General Assembly this month to craft more permanent legislative protections for homeowners and tenants.

So far, the state has pumped $50 million via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) specifically for households facing eviction or foreclosure due to the pandemic. A number of county-based resources to navigate the issue are also available online.

The end of the federal moratorium on evictions, which expired last month, and the lapsing of the $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits, has left many renters in peril.

Roughly 27 percent of adults in the country missed their rent or mortgage payment in July, according to a nationwide survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. Roughly 34 percent of renters said they were unsure how they would make their August payments.

Given this economic backdrop, do you think Northam should further extend the temporary ban on eviction proceedings? Let us know in the comments below. Also, we’d love to hear from readers on their experiences with paying rent, mortgages, and interactions with landlords.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Design Review Board to Meet Next Week — Reston Association’s DRB will meet via Zoom on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. to discuss a number of requested cluster updates. Information to join the virtual meeting is available online. [RA]

Month-to-Month Count of COVID-19 Cases On Decline — “The coronavirus case trends are looking better in June and July than May for Fairfax County, according to the latest local and state health department data. As of Aug. 10, cumulative cases stand at 16,445. There have been 529 total deaths and 1,939 hospitalizations.” [Reston Patch]

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Awarded Grants — “FCFRD was awarded $78,738 under the Grant Programs Directorate’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – COVID-19 Supplemental (AFG-S). The funds will be used to purchase critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supplies needed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.” [FCFRD]

No-fee Bulk Pickup Extended — “The special collection service available to residents for bulky items that do not fit within their refuse containers (such as furniture and appliances) is free through September 18. Pickups are by appointment only.” [Town of Herndon]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

A Halt on Evictions in Virginia — Gov. Ralph Northam has granted a temporary statewide eviction moratorium through Sept. 7. Northam requested this moratorium in a letter to Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons on July 24. [Commonwealth of Virginia]

Goodbye to K-9 Jake — The K9 for the Herndon Police Department crossed the rainbow bridge last week. He served the residents of Herndon from 2010 until his retirement in 2016. [Herndon Police Department]

New Portal for Community Partners — “A new partner portal has been launched for local community leaders and organizations with shareable information about COVID-19 safety curated according to health messages. Users can grab-and-go with text and video content, visuals, flyers and other materials.”[Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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The Town of Herndon is working to secure an agreement to ensure the proper use of a substantial COVID-19 grant from the federal government.

In order to keep a $4.3 million grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act, the Herndon’s Town Council must approve an agreement that outlines proper uses and reporting procedures.

The funds needed to be used for “necessary expenditures due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus disease,” according to town documentation.

Herndon received the money from the CARES act in late April, but would theoretically have to pay it back unless the council signs a “sub-award agreement” with Fairfax County, the town attorney said at a council work session on August 4.

“This agreement specifies the amount awarded to the town and lays out the terms under which specific funding uses and reporting requirements and other procedures are to take place,” the attorney said.

Funds were allocated to localities based on population from the 2019 Census, town documentation said.

According to a council member at the meeting, Herndon received the relief money quickly compared to other Virginia jurisdictions.

“There are still jurisdictions in the Commonwealth that are struggling to get funding of any sort,” the council members said, adding that it only took a “quick” email from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay to receive assistance.

Next week, the town council is expected to approve the agreement with Fairfax County, according to a recommendation from the town’s attorney.

Image via Town of Herndon

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Virginia has teamed up with Google and Apple to offer a smartphone app for COVID-19 exposure alerts, making it the first state in the U.S. to use the new technology.

COVIDWISE will notify users if they’ve been in close proximity to someone with COVID-19 by using Bluetooth Low Energy. The app is meant to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

When announcing the app yesterday, Gov. Ralph Northam said the app can help catch new cases sooner, especially since the virus can spread before infected people show symptoms.

“This is another tool we can have to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” Northam said. “This is a way we can all work together to contain this virus.”

Once someone gets an alert, Northam encourages them to self-isolate and get tested. If the test is positive, he said that users can add that information into the app, which will then alert users that the person has recently been around.

Android and iPhone users can download the app for free.

More from Google Play about how the app works:

If someone reports to the app that they tested positive, the signals from their app will search for other app users who shared that signal. The BLE signals are date-stamped and the app estimates how close the two devices were based on signal strength. If the timeframe was at least 15 minutes and the estimated distance was within six feet, then the other user receives a notification of a possible exposure. No names! No location!

The BLE framework within COVIDWISE will run in the background, even if the exposure notification app is closed. It will not drain the device battery at a rate that would occur with other apps that use normal Bluetooth and/or are open and running constantly.

“I want to be clear, this app COVIDWISE does not — I’m going to repeat that, does not — track or store your personal information,” Northam said. “It does not track you at all. It does not rely on GPS or your personal information. While we want everyone to download it, it is voluntary.”

Let Reston Now know in the poll and comments section below if you plan to download the app.

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CORE Foundation is releasing a DIY race kit to replace Reston’s annual Youth Superhero Splash and Dash due to COVID-19. 

Participants will complete activities for the event kit on their own timeline and in an area of their choice. Everyone is still eligible to receive medals and other gear they would receive in a live experience, according to their Facebook page

CORE Foundation is providing all of the tools necessary to complete a race from home to maintain the event’s authenticity. The kits include a superhero cape, a medal, finish line tape, and superhero crafts.

The virtual event features a “swim-run-fun” format, according to the page, for ages 5 to 15. Those without a pool can substitute the swim feature for any physical activity of choice, from bicycling to hopscotch. 

Participants can pick any day between Aug. 22 and Sep. 8 to designate as their “event day,” in which they will complete the swim-run-fun challenge. The event emphasizes “participation rather than competition” to the children. 

The kit is $35 if participants register before Aug. 6 and $40 after Aug. 7. The first 50 registrants will receive a BOCA 2019 Splash and Dash trucker hat, according to the page. 

Kits can be picked up from Chick-fil-A North Point Village on Saturday, Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m., or can be mailed for an additional fee. 

Those who are in need of a scholarship to participate can email [email protected]. The organization is pairing with the USA Triathalon foundation to offer the experience free of charge.

Photo via CORE Foundation

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Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand says that the decision for a virtual start to school on Sept. 8 was largely motivated by the health risks associated with COVID-19.

In a letter sent to parents Tuesday, Brabrand said that while cases are relatively stable in Fairfax County, precautionary steps are necessary to ensure the safety of staff and students. FCPS initially planned a hybrid approach of in-person and virtual instruction — a decision that was reversed by Brabrand in late July. The Fairfax County School Board approved the change July 22.

“As educators, there is nothing we want more than to have all students back in school. This school year will be a challenge for us all, but we are doing everything possible to ensure a high-quality education through virtual learning to start the year,” Brabrand said.

Brabrand also said staffing challenges complicated the transition to in-person learning, including the limited availability of substitutes and more leave of absence requests by teachers and other staff.

FCPS staff are developing metrics to determine when and if schools can reopen. Factors under consideration include the trajectory of cases, access to testing, and impact on staff and operations. More details are expected in mid-August, he said.

The school system also plans to provide laptops to all students to use for online learning. Schools will provide information on laptop distribution if a student does not already have an FCPS laptop.

Brabrand said his staff is also exploring ways to boost technical support for families and students, including a help desk for parents. All athletic seasons are also delayed until December.

The entire letter, which includes more details on class schedules and a commitment to more communication, is posted online.

Image via Fairfax County Public Schools

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Retail Rents Not Getting Paid“Retail tenants have been hardest hit during the pandemic, across the board and for JBG Smith. The company collected 58% of rent due from those tenants in the second quarter, compared with nearly 99% for office and 98.5% for multifamily… JBG Smith is exploring the possibility of incorporating ghost kitchens, or food preparation facilities for delivery-only meals, to fill some of the void created by empty retail spaces as a temporary measure.” [Washington Business Journal]

Free COVID-19 Testing in Reston TodayThe Fairfax County Health Department and Southgate Community Center are partnering to offer free testing ontoday from 5-8 p.m. at the community center, which is located at 12125 Pinecrest Road. [Virginia Department of Health]

Schools Take Part in Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week — “As part of Virginia’s declaration of August 2-8 as Virginia’s Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will be participating in activities to help educate citizens about the impact of cultural, historical, and racial inequity.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo by Ray Copson

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Reston Community Center has canceled this year’s Reston Multicultural Festival, which was originally scheduled to bring a celebration of diversity through song, dance and art to Lake Anne Plaza on September 26.

It breaks our hearts to take this step. We know that this event is a cherished part of Reston’s calendar and has deep meaning for participants and festival-goers alike. We are hopeful that spring will bring greater safety and restoration of the public gatherings that mean so much to Reston,” said RCC Board Chair Bev Cosham.

In a statement released today (Tuesday), RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon said organizers realized that was no safe way to present the multicultural festival.

The health and safety of our performers, vendors, staff, volunteers and community have to take precedence in these unprecedented times,” she said in a statement.

Gordon hopes the festival will return next year.

RCC plans to continue offering multicultural programming this summer and fall through smaller, socially distanced events. On Thursdays, RCC holds its Take a Break concert series at Lake Anne Plaza and Summerbration Fab Fridays at RestonStation. Other programming is also offering via RCC’s YouTube channel.

“Like our colleagues, we are trying to balance our desire to support artists, bring valued content to audiences and do so safely at all times,” said Arts and Events Director Paul Douglas Michnewicz. “It’s a constantly evolving environment, so we depend on flexibility and people staying alert to sudden changes in programming.”

Photo via RCC

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Officials from the Town of Herndon and Comstock have declined to disclose information on why the development of downtown Herndon has been delayed from its expected groundbreaking late last year.

In a statement posted on social media yesterday (Monday), Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel offered some insights on what has led to delays. She pointed to market conditions and COVID-19 as reasons that have led to delays.

Comstock and the Town of Herndon have not yet closed on the project. The town’s manager, the town’s attorney and Merkel met with Comstock’s senior staff, including its CEO Chris Clemente late last week to “address a number of outstanding items required prior to closing,” Merkel said.

Both parties are working on strategies to address the pending issues, Merkel said.

She also added that Clemente and his staff stressed their commitment to “expeditiously” move forward with the redevelopment project.

“Both Comstock and the Town are committed to this project and my personal goal as your major is to see these actions completed during this calendar year,” Merkel said.

A promotional website and banner offer a tease regarding what’s to come on the site, which will include 273 apartments, 17,00 square feet of retail, and arts center, and a 787-space parking garage. The $85 million project is a joint venture between the town and Comstock.

More information is expected next month.

Photo via Comstock

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