Possible Measles Exposures Under Investigation — Three individuals who recently arrived in Northern Virginia through Dulles International Airport as part of the Afghanistan evacuation have been diagnosed with measles, state health officials say. The risk to the general community is considered low, but anyone not vaccinated against the measles who was at the airport or certain other locations during specific time frames listed in the news release should contact their health provider. [VDH]
Police Arrest Man at Lake Anne Plaza — Fairfax County police arrested an Alexandria man found lying on the ground in the 1600 block of Washington Plaza on Thursday (Sept. 9) after discovering that he had narcotics, multiple rounds of ammunition, and a firearm. He was charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of ammunition, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of schedule IV narcotics. [FCPD]
Reston Contractor Protests Army Award — CACI International, which moved its headquarters to Reston over the summer, filed a contract protest against the federal government last week over awards issued by the U.S. Army. Few details about the case are known, because CACI’s federal subsidary requested that the records be sealed because they contain “confidential and proprietary information.” [Washington Business Journal]
See Herndon Fire Station Raise Flag for 9/11 — “Station 36, Frying Pan, A-Shift presenting the colors at a 9-11 ceremony in Herndon earlier today. Beautiful! #NeverForget #FCFRD” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter]
The first day of school is always a nerve-wracking affair, but the stakes felt especially high on Monday (Aug. 23), when Fairfax County Public Schools brought back roughly 180,000 students after more than a year of mostly virtual instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the return to school unfolded relatively smoothly, students, staff, and parents raised a multitude of concerns as well, primarily around transportation and the lack of distancing and masks in cafeterias, Fairfax County School Board members said during a work session on Tuesday (Aug. 24).
The transportation challenges were largely expected, as FCPS advised families last week that a school bus driver shortage would lead to delays. In a presentation to the board, Superintendent Scott Brabrand reported that the district had filled 86.4% of its 1,121 bus driver positions as of Monday, leaving 152 vacancies.
Still, the advance warning didn’t make the delays less frustrating for students and their parents.
“[Parents] want to know how long is it going to take for their children to come in, and [there were] also lots of concerns with students who were left outside to wait for their buses, and they don’t know how long,” Mason District Representative Ricardy Anderson said. “Is it 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 45? When we have the heat we had yesterday and rain that’s going to come, because let’s be clear, this transportation issue is not going to be resolved any time soon.”
According to an FCPS spokesperson, the Langley area has been hit hardest by the shortage, though the school system was unable to provide data on exactly how many students have been affected by bus delays.
Noting that the school system has 20 “double-back” routes this year, compared to just eight last year, FCPS Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Transportation Services Jeff Platenberg told the board that delays were reduced by 40% from Monday morning to Tuesday.
Even on Tuesday morning, however, late runs to Langley High School, Spring Hill Elementary, and Longfellow Middle School were all an hour off of their schedules.
“We know everybody is anxious about it, including us,” Platenberg said. “We’re excited about this start for the school year. We have some extreme challenges with this bus driver shortage, but we are working with our communities.”
He added that kiss-and-ride lines at schools were “jammed” on Monday and Tuesday, calling it “a healthy problem to have” since the crowds indicated that parents were heeding FCPS’ advice to drive or walk their children to school if possible.
One parent who asked to not be identified described the kiss-and-ride experience at her son’s elementary school as “absolute pandemonium,” with supervising staff seemingly scrambling to figure out where students were supposed to go.
In one case, a 4-year-old girl ended up on a shuttle to an after-school program that she doesn’t attend, leading her parents to post on social media that she was missing.
“I’m not trying to disparage the teachers who are clearly out there doing the best that they can, but from a system standpoint,” the parent said on Tuesday. “Yesterday and today were very, very hot days to just sit there for 30 minutes with no shade. What if it’s a pouring rainy day? What is your system? There has to be a better way to think through this.” Read More
Updated at 7:50 p.m. on 8/19/2021 — A second FCPS employees’ union, the Fairfax Education Association, released a statement today (Thursday) saying that it would also back a vaccine mandate for all workers and urged the school system to extend its paid sick leave policy for staff who have to quarantine through Dec. 31.
Earlier: The union that represents Fairfax County Public Schools teachers and staff says it would back a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees if the school system decides to institute one.
Fairfax County Federation of Teachers leaders released a statement expressing their support for requiring staff to provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing on Monday (Aug. 16) as FCPS staff returned to work in preparation for the start of the new school year on Aug. 23.
“Feedback from our members shows that there is strong support for a vaccine mandate among our membership,” the FCFT executive board said in its statement. “As we see the Delta variant spreading across the US and the growing case numbers among children, and knowing that our students under 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated until at least winter, we support all measures we can take to reduce the spread and protect these students.”
1. FCFT supports FCPS requiring all staff members to provide proof of vaccination and requiring all those who do not provide proof of vaccination to participate in weekly COVID testing.
— Fairfax County Federation of Teachers (@FCFTcares) August 16, 2021
FCPS has emphasized the importance of staff and eligible students getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, including in a virtual town hall that Superintendent Scott Brabrand hosted with county health officials on Monday, but the district has stopped short of requiring shots.
With COVID-19 cases surging again due to the infectious Delta variant, vaccination requirements are becoming increasingly commonplace among both public and private employers. Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Aug. 5 that state government workers must show proof that they are fully vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, encouraging localities and businesses to follow suit.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on July 27 to explore requiring vaccination or weekly testing when county government employees return to offices in September, though no official plan has been publicly announced yet.
While it doesn’t have specific data on which staff members are vaccinated, FCPS says 90% of its staff had registered to get vaccinated as of February, suggesting that the vaccination rate is higher now. School officials have not ruled out the possibility of making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory in the future.
“At this present time, we are not mandating vaccinations for staff but we continue to consider all options that keep our staff and students safe,” an FCPS spokesperson said.
In addition to endorsing the idea of a vaccine requirement, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers says its members “strongly support” FCPS’ universal mask policy, which has been expanded since it was first announced on July 28 to include all individuals in all indoor settings regardless of their vaccination status.
The union also called on FCPS to work with the Fairfax County Health Department to provide more on-site vaccine clinics and rapid testing sites, let employees participate in required staff meetings virtually, provide administrative leave for any staff member who has to quarantine due to a work-related COVID-19 exposure, and give staff at least one day to transition to virtual instruction if a class, school, or the district has to close.
Clear, consistent, and timely communication will also be key to ensuring that the return to five days of in-person learning is successful, the union said.
“While ever-changing COVID conditions contributed to the upheaval of last year, there are many places where strong leadership and clear communication could have reduced staff workload and stress, rather than add to it,” FCFT said. “It is imperative that FCPS leadership seek out feedback from staff members who work directly with students to utilize the expertise of those with firsthand experience on how policies and procedures work in classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and buses.”
An FCPS spokesperson says the school system will finalize details on how staff leave will work for quarantine situations before the start of the school year, and it will offer staff a virtual option for meetings with parents.
“We continue to consider all requests from staff and families as we work together to ensure a smooth and safe school year,” FCPS said.
(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Face masks are now required when students are inside Fairfax County Public School buildings, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status, the school district announced this morning (Wednesday).
“Masks are an essential tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting those unable to be vaccinated,” the message says. “To ensure a safe start to the school year, masks will be required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, inside FCPS buildings.”
The announcement comes a week after Virginia’s health and education departments released new guidance giving local school systems discretion to determine their own mask rules, though the state recommended that elementary schools at least adopt universal masking with children younger than 12 still not eligible to get vaccinated.
A statewide mandate requiring all children 5 and older to wear masks while in school expired on Sunday (July 25).
According to a graphic on the FCPS website, fully vaccinated staff will not be required to wear masks when no students are present in a school building, and masks will not be required for either vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals outdoors.
Masks will be required on school buses in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal mask mandate for public transportation.
FCPS says its COVID-19 health guidelines for the upcoming school year, which will begin on Aug. 23, are consistent with federal, state, and county guidance. The rules also apply to the expanded summer school programs that are continuing into mid-August.
“Universal masking is the most effective way to keep our staff and students safe and feeling confident — and also to keep our school buildings open for five days a week of in-person instruction for all students this fall,” an FCPS spokesperson said in a statement. “The universal mask policy is in line with local, state and national guidance and takes into account the fact that many of our students are not eligible for the vaccine or who have not yet been vaccinated for other reasons.”
In addition to sharing its plans for face masks, FCPS announced that it will not regularly test staff and students for COVID-19, instead asking anyone who enters a school building to “self-assess and stay home if they are feeling ill or experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.”
Unlike last year, students will not be required to go into quarantine if they are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The CDC updated its contact tracing guidelines earlier this month with an exemption for kindergarten through 12th grade students in a classroom setting.
After several weeks of loosening restrictions, a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide has prompted a return of health protocols that many had hoped the availability of vaccines would relegate to the past.
The CDC officially amended its mask guidelines yesterday (Tuesday) to state that even fully vaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors in areas with high or substantial transmission, citing evidence that the delta variant can be spread by vaccinated people.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has directed County Executive Bryan Hill to evaluate the possibility of adopting a vaccine mandate for county government employees when they fully return to workplaces this fall.
FCPS did not comment when asked whether a similar approach is being considered for school staff, but it said in this morning’s announcement that “the most important thing we can all do to keep our schools safe and open all year is to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as we are eligible.”
FCPS has partnered with the Fairfax County Health Department to bring vaccination clinics to schools, including three scheduled for August:
- Wednesday, Aug. 4: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Herndon Elementary School, 630 Dranesville Rd., Herndon
- Thursday, Aug. 5: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Justice High School, 3301 Peace Valley ln., Falls Church
- Friday, Aug. 6: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Liberty Middle School, 6801 Union Mill Rd., Clifton
According to the county health department, more than 63% of all Fairfax Health District residents have received at least one vaccine dose, including 72.8% of residents aged 12 to 17.
CDC Updates Mask Guidance — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends masks indoors in places with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission and in schools nationwide, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. The Virginia Department of Health told Reston Now that it is analyzing the new guidance. “We continue to emphasize that the only way out of this pandemic is through vaccination,” VDH said in a statement. [Associated Press]
Plastic Bag Tax Public Hearing Scheduled — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing for 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 to gather community input on a proposed five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags. If the ordinance is approved, Fairfax County would be the second locality in Virginia to adopt a bag tax. [Fairfax County Government]
Reston Woman Freed After Being Trapped Under Car — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel extricated a woman who was found trapped under her car in a parking lot in the 1700 block of Reston Parkway around 11:58 p.m. on Monday (July 26). Police believe she had failed to fully shift into park, leading the car to roll backward into her after she exited the vehicle. The woman was taken to a nearby hospital to get treatment for injuries that were not life-threatening. [Patch]
Metro to Tweak Railcar Announcements — “Metro is changing the announcements on its railcars at the request of its Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC). The new message moves the most important information, what train line and destination it is, to the front…Phil Posner, chair of the AAC, says the change is beneficial for those with low vision, hearing, or low mobility and people new to the system.” [DCist]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Months after Virginia started lifting its mask restrictions, the once-ubiquitous face masks that were a defining symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic have started becoming more scarce. But with the delta variant starting to cause a COVID-19 resurgence, some are saying masks in public should make a comeback, even for people who have been fully vaccinated.
The delta variant now accounts for 83% of new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated earlier this week. The delta variant is more contagious than other strands of COVID-19 and could potentially have more severe symptoms.
In official channels, mask requirements have continued to ease up. The Commonwealth is set to let a statewide mandate on indoor mask wearing in schools expire on Sunday (July 25), though the state guidance remains that teachers, students and staff should still wear their masks indoors.
While the virus now appears to be almost exclusively spreading among unvaccinated people, some fully vaccinated people have continued wearing masks for a variety of reasons, from a desire to fend off other illnesses or to protect young children and other people unable to get a vaccine to concern about being judged.
Have you stayed in the habit of wearing a face mask, or does it depend on the setting?
Photo by robinreston
Virginia school districts will make their own rules regarding masking requirements for the upcoming school year, the state’s education and health departments announced today (Wednesday).
The Commonwealth will let a public health order that’s in effect until Sunday (July 25) expire, thereby ending a statewide mandate that kids over age 5 wear masks indoors at public and private schools and putting decisions in the hands of local officials.
“The science is clear that vaccinations and masks help keep our communities safe from COVID-19,” Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey said in a statement. “The Commonwealth’s children and the individuals that help them learn will be protected by proven strategies, without a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Fairfax County Public Schools currently requires masks to be worn indoors for students, staff, and visitors when school is in session “until more students aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated and until younger students become eligible for vaccination.”
“We are reviewing the guidance and reaching out to hear from our community, and will share a plan early next week with staff and families,” FCPS spokesperson Julie Moult said in a statement.
Virginia’s new guidance says elementary schools should require students, teachers, and staff to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until vaccines are available for young children. For middle and high schools, it recommends that students, teachers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated be required to wear masks indoors.
State officials said the change will allow districts to make their own decisions and the switch reflects changes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which loosened its guidance earlier this month and advised that masks should be worn indoors by all individuals age 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, by contrast, recommends that, unless they are unable to do so due to medical or developmental challenges, all school staff and students over the age of 2 should wear masks at school, even if they’re vaccinated.
The changes come as daily COVID-19 cases have increased in Virginia and the U.S., and the especially contagious delta variant now represents 83% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to a CDC estimate.
Over 70% of students ages 12 to 17 in Fairfax County have been vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines for those under the age of 12 are not yet authorized but currently undergoing trials.
The CDC has said that most students, including those with disabilities, can tolerate and safely wear a mask, but a “narrow subset of students with disabilities” may be unable to do so and should not be required to wear one.
Reston Association is monitoring a blue-green algae bloom that has emerged at Lake Audubon.
RA announced yesterday (Tuesday) that its watershed staff have found that the bloom contains the algal toxin microcystin, but tests of the water suggest the current levels of the toxin are low enough that no restrictions on recreation at the lake are necessary.
“However, environmental conditions such as increased heat or nutrients can affect levels and caution is advised,” RA said in the notice. “As always, no swimming is allowed at any time in Reston’s lakes and pet owners should check for floating blue-green algae before allowing pets in the water.”
The Environmental Protection Agency describes microcystin as “a potent liver toxin and possible human carcinogen.” It is the most widespread type of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, which may cause issues ranging from allergic reactions to gastroenteritis, liver and kidney failure or death, though cases of severe human health issues are relatively rare.
According to RA, algae blooms often appear when temperatures rise, but they usually occur later in the summer.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on July 9 that June 2021 was the hottest June on record in the U.S., though temperatures were average for this time of year in the D.C. area.
While fishing and boating on Lake Audubon are still permitted, users should “be careful to avoid the water,” RA says.
RA recommends staying in or on watercraft at all times, avoiding contact with algae, and not drinking water from lakes. The association also discourages people from eating fish caught in lakes.
“RA will be monitoring the lake closely to see if the toxin levels increase or decrease and will adjust the status from caution, danger or clear accordingly,” RA said.
In addition to posing a potential health risk when in high concentrations, algae blooms can be devastating to freshwater ecosystems, as they can block out sunlight, clog fish gills, and create oxygen dead zones where no aquatic life can survive. Scientists say human activities and climate change are leading to more common and more toxic blooms.
According to the Reston Association, there is no method of removing toxins from lakes, but people can help prevent the nutrients that produce algae blooms from entering the water.
“The public can help reduce the occurrence of blue-green algae blooms by preventing nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from entering waterways through responsible use of lawn fertilizers, picking up pet waste, and controlling sediment erosion,” RA said in its statement.
Reston Association Watershed staff have been monitoring a blue-green algae bloom on Lake Audubon. For more details please the attached image.
— Reston Association (@RestonOnline) July 20, 2021
Photo via Reston Association/Facebook
D.C. Area Under Code Orange Alert — A Code Orange Air Quality Alert has been issued for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, as smoke from wildfires in the West carries over to the East Coast. The alert means that “air pollution concentration is unhealthy for sensitive groups, especially those w/medical conditions like asthma. Limit strenuous outdoor activity.” [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]
Former Fairfax County Police Indicted — Police Chief Kevin Davis and Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced yesterday (Tuesday) that former Fairfax County police officer John Grimes was indicted by a grand jury indicted on Monday (July 19) for unwanted sexual contact with a 16-year-old. The incidents took place between Nov. 12 and Dec. 16, 2019 when Grimes was conducting ride-alongs with the victim. [Patch]
County Announces Millions in Affordable Housing Funds — “The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) has announced the availability of local, state, and federal funds to support the development and preservation of affordable housing in Fairfax County. More than $18.7 million is currently appropriated and is now available for multifamily affordable housing development projects; an additional $15 million in federal funding has been preliminarily identified for this purpose; and additional state funding will be announced in the very near future.” [Fairfax County Housing and Community Development]
Reston Software Company Acquired — “Avantus Federal, a McLean-based IT defense contractor and NewSpring Holdings company, has acquired Reston-based software company Occam’s Razor Technologies LLC, it announced Thursday…ORT, founded in 2011, is a software engineering and consulting firm that works with defense and intelligence clients.” [Virginia Business]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The United Christian Parish will host an Inova blood drive on July 30 in an effort organized by church members to support one of their own.
The Inova Bloodmobile will be in the Reston church’s parking lot at 11508 North Shore Drive from 1:30 to 6 p.m. that day, organzier Marilyn Silvey tells Reston Now.
A former 40-year resident of Reston, Silvey now lives in a retirement community in Ashburn, but she remains a member of the United Christian Parish.
She started organizing the blood drive as a show of support for fellow parish member Mary Anne, whose last name she declined to share to protect her friend’s privacy.
According to Silvey, Mary Anne has a blood disease that requires her to receive regular transfusions. Typically, she gets a transfusion every two weeks, but her appointments have recently been cut back to once every three weeks due to a nationwide blood shortage, leaving her weak to the point where she had to start using a wheelchair.
“There is always a shortage in summer, as people focus on vacations instead of on saving lives, but this year it is worse because of the lack of usual donors during the covid pandemic,” Silvey said by email. “So we are holding this for all the Mary Annes in this area who need blood to stay alive.”
An “atypically high” number of emergency room visits and trauma cases have depleted the nation’s blood inventory, the American Red Cross said on World Blood Donor Day (June 14), reporting that hospitals with trauma centers have seen a 10% increase in demand this year compared to 2019.
The Red Cross says these cases often require a significant amount of blood for doctors to have a chance to save the patient’s life. The increased demand also comes from an influx of patients who had delayed receiving care earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of late April, Inova’s red blood cell inventory was in the red for all types of blood. Its supply of O positive blood was especially depleted, as the health care system had only 30 units available out of a desired 300 units.
Silvey says the United Christian Parish’s goal for the upcoming blood drive is to get 100 potential donors. Masks and photo identification will be required for donors, who should allow up to an hour to go through the process, Silvey says.
Appointments can be made online or by calling 1-866-BLOODSAVES (256-6372). The sponsor code for the United Christian Parish drive is 8632.
Silvey says questions can be directed to coordinator Deborah Aschenbach at 703-585-8216.
Man Faces Additional Charge in Herndon Sexual Battery Case — After receiving more reports from victims, the Herndon Police Department has filed an additional charge of aggravated sexual battery in a case involving a local massage therapist. Zachary Nelson Guzman Orellana of Leesburg was arrested on June 30 and is being held at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center without bond. [Herndon Police Department/Twitter]
Dulles Airport to Get UV Disinfecting Tech — “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority wants to install ultraviolet disinfection technology at Reagan National and Dulles International airports to disinfect the air in high-traffic areas…The agency is currently searching for a contractor to design and build the project, scheduled to be mostly complete by Nov. 15.” [Washington Business Journal]
Route 7 Access to Reopen in Great Falls Next Week — As part of the ongoing Route 7 widening project, drivers on westbound Leesburg Pike will encounter a line shift to the north between Baron Cameron Avenue and Great Passage Boulevard in Great Falls. Riva Ridge Drive will also regain access to Route 7. The changes will take effect on or around next Tuesday (July 13). [VDOT]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Local Birds Suffer from Mysterious Ailment — “People should refrain from feeding birds until scientists determine the cause of a mysterious ailment that has blinded and killed hundreds of birds in Maryland, Virginia and the District since at least late May, a federal agency said Monday.” [The Washington Post]
Dogwood ES to Hold Meeting on Principal Selection — Dogwood Elementary School will hold a virtual meeting today (Tuesday) at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the process for selecting a new principal with staff, families, and community members. The meeting will be conducted through BlackBoard. [Dogwood ES]
Herndon IT Firm Officially Bought by Booz Allen — “McLean, Virginia-based Booz Allen Hamilton, already the largest government IT contractor in the D.C. region, has completed its acquisition of Herndon-based Liberty IT Solutions for $725 million…Liberty IT Solutions has a backlog of more than $2 billion in IT modernization work. Booz Allen says the acquisition will immediately increase revenue growth and earnings.” [WTOP]
Reston Software Company to Be Acquired — “Investment firms Blackstone and Vista Equity Partners have reached an agreement to acquire Reston-based higher education software company Ellucian, according to an announcement from the companies released Monday…Ellucian provides enterprise resource planning software products such as student information systems, data analytics tools and graduation-tracking platforms for more than 2,700 higher education customers in more than 50 countries representing more than 26 million students.” [Virginia Business]
Virginians who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are officially free to go outside and visit fully vaccinated friends without wearing a face mask.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday (Thursday) that he has amended the state’s public health rules to conform with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that loosens mask-wearing and social distancing protocols for people who are fully vaccinated, meaning two weeks have passed since they received their last required vaccine dose.
Released on April 27, the CDC’s new recommendations state that fully vaccinated people face “minimal risk” of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 when engaged in outdoor activities such as exercising or eating outside. They also likely face little risk from small, private indoor gatherings and visits to public indoor spaces with other fully vaccinated people.
The CDC emphasizes that masks should still be worn indoors when unvaccinated people are present, especially if they are at increased risk of severe illness from the novel coronavirus, and in crowded outdoor settings like concerts or sporting events where maintaining social distancing is difficult.
“The CDC’s recommendations underscore what we have said all along — vaccinations are the way we will put this pandemic behind us and get back to normal life,” Northam said. “Our increasing vaccination rate and decreasing number of new COVID-19 cases has made it possible to ease mitigation measures in a thoughtful and measured manner. I encourage all Virginians who have not yet received the vaccine to make an appointment today.”
Touted as another incentive for people to get vaccinated, the new CDC guidelines came out amid news reports that COVID-19 vaccine demand has slowed in some parts of the country to the point where state and local governments are declining shipments.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told Tysons Reporter yesterday that that has not been the case in the county, which has only just gotten enough supplies to meet demand.
As of April 29, 529,402 Fairfax County residents — or 46.1% of the total population — had received at least one vaccine dose, and 334,568 residents — 29.2% of the population — had been fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Department of Health data, which does not include some doses administered by the federal government.
Statewide, more than 3.7 million Virginians — 57% of the adult population — have now gotten at least one dose, and 2.5 million Virginians are fully vaccinated, or 39% of the adult population, according to Northam.
Fairfax County officials say they will support the new guidelines in Northam’s amended executive order.
“We will continue to follow the guidance put out by the state and follow the data, just as we always have,” McKay said in a statement. “I know everyone is looking forward to seeing their loved ones again without fear of spreading COVID. Getting vaccinated will be necessary to do so however, so I recommend that everyone make an appointment as soon as possible.”
With high school football games nearing an end and spring sports like baseball starting up, Northam also announced yesterday that he has accelerated plans to ease capacity limits on outdoor recreational sports, which are now permitted up to 1,000 spectators, effective immediately.
Northam says he anticipates removing all capacity limits in mid-June “as long as the Commonwealth’s health metrics remain stable and vaccination progress continues.”
FY 2022 Budget Markup Approved — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a markup package for the county’s fiscal year 2022 budget yesterday (Tuesday) that includes a 1% pay raise for county government employees and an additional $15 million for Fairfax County Public Schools, partly to support compensation increases. [Fairfax County Government]
Virginia Reviewing New Mask Guidelines — The CDC released new guidance yesterday (Tuesday) stating that people who have been fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks outdoors except when in a big crowd of strangers. Gov. Ralph Northam’s press secretary said in a statement that the governor’s office is reviewing the guidelines “to determine if and where we need to make changes” to Virginia’s mask requirements. [Office of the Governor]
New Police Chief Use-of-Force Record Scrutinized — Incoming Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis lost two lawsuits over his use of force when he worked in the Prince George’s County Police Department in the 1990s. In the first case, the plaintiff said Davis pulled him over without giving a reason and violently arrested him, while the second victim alleged that “Davis and other officers essentially kidnapped him for a night.” [NBC4]
Nonprofit Hits Record for Food Donations to Feed Students — Food for Neighbors received more than 21,000 pounds of food from over 1,200 households during its April 24th Red Bag Program food collection, including 5,547 pounds from 366 households in Herndon and Reston neighborhoods. [Patch]
Reston Defense Contractor Acquires Seattle-Based AI Company — SAIC announced on Monday (April 26) that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Koverse, a software company that “provides a data management platform enabling artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning on complex, sensitive data.” [Koverse]
Community Helps Reston Resident with Medical Expenses — A GoFundMe for Reston resident David Vlcek, who suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, has raised more than $55,000, getting the fundraiser halfway to its $100,000 goal. Started by a family friend, the campaign funds will help defray medical costs not covered by insurance and pay for airfare for Vlcek’s parents, who need to travel from the Czech Republic. [Patch]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
More than 100 private health care providers in Fairfax County are currently going through the steps to be able to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the public soon, county officials tells Reston Now and Tysons Reporter.
This includes private practices, clinics, and urgent care centers.
This comes on the heels of the county’s announcement late last week that this was set to happen in the coming weeks.
“The process to become approved to administer COVID-19 vaccine requires several steps,” writes a County Health Department spokesperson, “That starts with filing an intent form with VDH, completing a CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Agreement and completing the Fairfax County Health Department’s compliance check.
Of those 100 plus private health care providers, approximately 35 are in the process of completing the Fairfax County Health Department’s compliance check. The timeline for completion differs for each provider, notes a spokesperson.
A “handful” of private providers have completed all of the steps and can now offer the COVID-19 vaccine to their patients. Health Department officials declined to provide an exact number or name of the providers.
Providers won’t be able to choose a specific COVID-19 vaccine to offer to their patients, since vaccine availability is dependent on what the county receives from the Commonwealth.
“We know many residents in our community will be excited to hear that their own health care providers may soon offer vaccine,” Fairfax County Health Department’s Director of Health Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu wrote in the health department’s blog post. “However, we do encourage residents to be patient while more practices meet the state requirements. Once a provider is able to offer vaccine, they will notify their patients directly.”
The county is also asking residents if they do receive the vaccine from a private provider and previously registered with the county’s health department to remove themselves from the waitlist.
In recent weeks, Fairfax County has begun to diversify where residents are able to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
This includes retail pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Safeway, and Harris Teeter. Giant is directly partnering with the county to vaccinate off the their waitlist. However, appointments still remain scarce at the retail pharmacies.
In general, vaccinations in the county are moving at a faster pace than last month.
But the county is still struggling to catch up to demand after being the only jurisdiction to opt out of Virginia’s appointment system, with 104,000 people on the waitlist of 326,000 currently registered.
So far, the county had 267,000 people receive at least one dose of the vaccine, about 23% of the county’s total population. About half of those have been administered by the health department.
Appointments are currently being scheduled for those who signed up on January 28 or earlier.
Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools