The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County continues a steep decline this week, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.
Today’s average was 366 cases compared to roughly 681 cases during the prior week of Jan. 18 and 535 cases on Jan. 11. But it is important to note that the number of new cases per day continues to be higher than the first peak of the outbreak over the summer.
For example, VDH reported 689 cases today, well about the peak of 434 over the summer on May 28. The highest number of new cases per day — 1,485 — was reported on Jan. 17.
Similarly, hospitalizations in the county are also on the decline after peaking in early May. The weekly average of hospitalizations has hovered at numbers less than 20 for the last few months, according to VDH data. Today, VDH reported seven hospitalizations and a rolling average of eight.
Statewide, the daily case average took a downturn as well after three days of record-high cases.
Roughly 40 percent of the county’s total population about the age of 16 is eligible to receive the vaccine. So far, 57,702 people have received the first dose of the vaccine and 6,141 people have been fully vaccinated. Statewide, 416,200 people have received the first dose and 58,779 are fully vaccinated.
County officials have noted that while many people are eligible for the vaccine, a limited dose of vaccines is currently available.
In a Jan. 21 letter to Gov. Ralph Northam, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay urged the state to increase the county’s vaccine supply.
The county has more than 100,000 residents registered through the health department’s vaccinations system.
“We average about 10,000 doses a week, which does not meet the demand nor the expectation of the 100,000 people we now have in the queue,” McKay wrote.
People can register online or by calling the county’s vaccine hotline at 703-324-7404.
I wrote to @GovernorVA about our need for more vaccine in FX. We have put every local resource into vaccinating as many ppl as possible. We lead VA in vaccinating, but demand outpaces vaccine available from the state. Ppl are anxious, however know vaccinations are our priority. pic.twitter.com/CXfBufuyzj
— Jeff McKay (@JeffreyCMcKay) January 21, 2021
With only a week left until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Fairfax Connector announced that two bus routes will stop operating today (Wednesday) through Jan. 20 due to planned road closures in Washington, D.C.
Route 699, which normally travels between the Fairfax County Government Center and downtown D.C., will instead serve as a free shuttle to transport riders from the government center park and ride to the south entrance of the Vienna Metro station.
“The shuttles will leave the government center at the time on the schedule,” Fairfax Connector said in a tweet. “The shuttles will leave Vienna about 45 mins after their DC departure time with the goal of getting riders back to the P&R lot near their regularly scheduled arrival time.”
Fairfax Connector suggests Routes 631, 632, and 634 as travel alternatives for passengers on Route 697, which goes from the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride in Centreville to D Street SW in D.C. Routes 631, 632, and 634 all stop at the Stringfellow Park and Ride and the Vienna Metro station.
⚠️ Due to road closures for Inauguration, Route 697 will not operate into DC starting immediately through Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Passengers should use shuttle between Stringfellow P&R and Vienna Metro South. Use alternative Routes 631, 632, & 634. Thanks for your patience.
— Fairfax Connector (@ffxconnector) January 13, 2021
⚠️ Due to road closures, Route 699 will not operate into DC starting immediately through Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Route 699 will shuttle passengers (free of charge) between Government Center Park & Ride and Vienna Metro South. Thanks for your patience.
— Fairfax Connector (@ffxconnector) January 13, 2021
Fears that the violence that embroiled the U.S. Capitol last week could return during the lead-up to Inauguration Day have put the D.C. region on edge, prompting thousands of National Guard troops and federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to mobilize for the National Special Security Event.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay joined other local and state public officials in warning community members against traveling to downtown D.C. on the day of the inauguration and the days preceding it.
“Sadly, the terror that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not a contained or isolated incident, and there is continued concern that similar violence is an ongoing threat to Americans and our democracy,” McKay said in a statement today.
The chairman says that the Fairfax County Police Department has been in contact with D.C. police about “the evolving situation” and has increased its presence in “key areas” of the county.
McKay advises residents to stay home if possible, avoid downtown D.C., and report any suspicious activity to police at 9-1-1 or the FCPD’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.
“Fairfax County will do all we can to help our partners in the region ensure a peaceful and safe transition of power on January 20, 2021 because that is the will of Fairfax County residents and the majority of Americans across the country,” McKay said.
Photo via Fairfax Connector/Facebook
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.
Comscore Secures Investment for Stock Deal — The Reston-based media measurement and analytics company is making a cash investment in order to change shares of convertible preferred stock. [Virginia Business]
Library Branches Switch to Curbside Services Only — Beginning Jan. 11, Fairfax County Public Library branches will switch to virtual and curbside services only. [Fairfax County Government]
County Board Asks State Legislators for Flexibility to Recover — “When it comes to what Fairfax County would like to see come out of this year’s state legislative session, flexibility is at the top of the list.” [WTOP]
Police Find Bullet Inside Home — Local police found a bullet lodged inside a home on the 11800 block of Breton Court on Jan. 2. A homeowner called police when they found a shattered glass door and a hole in their curtain. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Officers with the Fairfax County Police Department have been deployed to Washington, D.C., as part of a region-wide emergency response to far-right extremists who have stormed the U.S. Capitol, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s office confirmed to Tysons Reporter.
Fairfax County has also opened its emergency operations center to Virginia State Police.
Earlier this week, McKay advised county residents to avoid visiting downtown D.C. as several right-wing groups planned to hold demonstrations to protest Congress’ scheduled certification of the November 2019 general election results.
Fairfax County police previously said they did not anticipate needing to assist D.C. authorities in managing the demonstrations. Like other law enforcement agencies in the D.C. region, the county has a mutual aid agreement in place for situations where additional help may be needed.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn also encouraged residents to stay home. His full statement is below.
Today has truly been one of the most remarkable days in our country’s history, and the sounds and images on our screens are frightening and saddening. Over the years we have seen many challenges to authority, to our system, and even to each other, but we have always emerged stronger and doubled down on our commitment to a more perfect union. Let’s not forget that our institutions are strong, our commitment to rule of law is unchanged, and that government by the people and for the people remains our foundational principle. We have the oldest democracy on earth and we will pull together so that does not change.
McKay’s full statement is below:
What is happening in Washington D.C. right now is nothing short of a coup. This is a dark day in American democracy and I am personally sad and angry. I’m hopeful residents of the county heeded our advice to stay home today.
We have deployed members of our police department and opened our emergency oerpations center ot Virginia State Police. Let us pray for their safety as well as the safety of the innocent people impacted. Our democracy will not be destroyed by violent, lawless mobs.
I’m in constant communication with County officials to ensure we provide as much help as possible and also protect our communities in Fairfax.
Photo via Sherry Xu on Unsplash
As winter approaches, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has taken steps to provide safe temporary hypothermia prevention shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The Board approved an emergency ordinance on Tuesday, Oct. 6, authorizing the establishment of several county-operated temporary shelters between December 2020 and March 2021.
“It cannot be understated how critical this program is, and has been over the years, for thousands in our community who otherwise would have had no defense against the icy grip of winter,” Fairfax County Chairman Jeffrey McKay said in a press release.
“COVID-19 has dealt us all a challenging hand, and this measure is just another example of how we are continuing to use outside-of-the-box thinking and planning to ensure that we can still come through on behalf of those who need our help the most in our community.”
Fairfax County has partnered with houses of worship and nonprofits in years past to provide shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness. Those efforts have allowed people who enter the shelters to receive meals and other assistance.
Due to COVID-19 and protocols advised by the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many houses of worship are closed or functioning in a limited capacity that will not allow for the same shelter options as previous years.
As a result of the protocols now in place, the board has identified seven county-owned sites that can be utilized for the Hypothermia Prevention Program and offer shelter. These include:
- Lincolnia Senior Center (4710 North Chambliss Street, Alexandria)
- Braddock Glen Wellness Center (12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax)
- Gerry Hyland Government Center (8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria)
- North County Human Services Building (1850 Cameron Glen Dr., Reston)
- Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax)
- Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax)
- Pennino Building (12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax)
“The County’s Hypothermia Prevention Program provides a critical, life-saving service for our county’s most vulnerable residents,” Tom Barnett, Deputy Director for the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, said in a press release.
“Last year, through an outstanding community partnership effort, we were able to provide 49 sites to serve an average of 215 guests each night who had no place else to go. Through this action, we can begin planning contingencies to ensure that everyone who needs a warm place to stay and access to supportive services can find it.”
The North County Human Services Building – which is serviced by Cornerstones – is the lone site of the seven that was used in this capacity last year. However, services will be altered at the site as two rooms will be utilized instead of one to allow for 100 square feet per person, according to Maura Williams, Cornerstones’ Division Director for Housing and Community Services.
“This additional space means we need to hire twice as many staff as normal to manage two rooms,” Williams said. “There has been some discussion about providing 24-hour services for the hypothermia program this year, but no firm decision. It really depends on our staffing capabilities.”
Williams also said Cornerstones’ staff will continue to implement the new COVID-19 procedures it has utilized at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. Those procedures include temperature checks, health screenings, hand sanitizer, gloves, face masks, face shields, sneeze guards and social distancing.
A press release from the county says many of the chosen locations are currently closed to the public or operating at a reduced occupancy that will allow for “a safe, warm location where individuals who are homeless can stay overnight.”
A public hearing is planned for November for the Board to receive public comment on this ordinance. Additional information about the hearing will be posted online as further details are finalized.
For more information about the hearings and how to contribute comments, visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/
Photo via Fairfax County Government
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering a move to allow closed or partially-closed tents for outdoor dining in Fairfax County as temperatures continue to dip in the coming weeks.
At a board meeting on Tuesday, Board Chairman Jeff McKay proposed an emergency ordinance that would allow restaurants and fitness businesses to set up the tents.
“This is an important step we can take to safely help our local restaurants through this difficult time,” McKay wrote.
Currently, restaurants and fitness businesses are allowed to use outdoor areas, including portions of parking lots and sidewalks. That ordinance is set to expire six months after the county’s state of emergency ends.
A public hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 20.
Today, I asked that the Board to authorize a public hearing to extend the ordinance and to allow tents to be partially or completely closed to help as weather cools. This is an important step we can take to safely help our local restaurants through this difficult time. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/nmZ7DBuXde
— Jeff McKay (@JeffreyCMcKay) September 29, 2020
Photo via Melissa Walker Horn/Unsplash
Fairfax County officials want to see the rollout of body-worn cameras for Fairfax County police happen as soon as possible to increase transparency with policing.
“The events in the last couple of weeks both across the country and in Fairfax made the importance of expanding the police body-worn camera program apparent both for improved public safety and transparency,” Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement.
Yesterday, the Board of Supervisors approved asking county staff to look for potential revenue sources to implement the second phase of the program as quickly as possible. The county directed staff to report back by June 30 with the funding options and a potential timeline for the rest of the phases.
McKay said that the county wants to resume the implementation of the program’s second phase during the 2021 fiscal year.
Earlier this year, the county board delayed funding for the phased program due to budget challenges posed by COVID-19, but still kept an increase of $1.77 million increase for the first phase of the program.
Three county district stations already have the cameras, including the Reston District Station.
The motion follows recent calls from several supervisors, including Walter Alcorn and John Foust, to continue the program in the other parts of the county.
County officials are looking for ways to move forward with the program in response to rising concerns about police transparency and use of force following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a Fairfax County police officer allegedly assaulting a black man in the Mt. Vernon area. The Fairfax County officer is facing three counts of misdemeanor assault and battery.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said that he was initially willing to delay the cameras before, but now said he sees an immediate need for the cameras.
Storck noted that the body-worn camera footage of the Mt. Vernon incident, which the police department released on Sunday (June 7), “dramatically changed” conversations between the police and the community.
Storck added that the police officers he’s spoken to support the cameras.
“I join my colleagues in deep disappointment in what we saw on that police camera this weekend,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said. “It shows that it works.”
McKay mentioned said that the action of a handful of officers — “is not indicative” of the thousands of officers in the Fairfax County Police Department. McKay called the police department “committed” and “well trained.”
He thanked both the police chief and commonwealth’s attorney for their “quick response” to the incident.
Fairfax County Adding Equity Task Force
Work to speed up the police cameras is one of several steps the county is taking to address inequity.
“There is no one policy or program we can enact today that will solve every issue,” McKay said, pointing to previous efforts like adding the county’s Police Civilian Review Panel and independent police auditor.
The Board of Supervisors also unveiled yesterday a new equity task force. “We know this is an issue that requires constant vigilance,” McKay said.
“The Chairman’s Taskforce on Equity and Opportunity will explore the range of situations and conditions that contribute to disproportionate trends, facilitate shared responsibility and collective action, build on the strengths of our community, and lift up solutions to make all residents and neighborhoods more resilient,” according to county documents.
McKay said that the task force will be coordinated by Karla Bruce, the county’s chief equity officer, and her staff with his office. Costs will be absorbed within the existing budget, McKay said.
Each supervisor will provide recommendations for who should serve on the task force, McKay said. He added that the county is aiming for a geographically and demographically balanced membership “to make sure this group is attempting to represent this county as a whole.”
Palchik noted that the county took the “first step forward as we battle through this crisis,” adding that she wants the county to address housing and pre-K programs to combat inequity.
Fairfax County’s top official is stressing the importance of equity and justice as nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd continue.
A viral video captured Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
In a newsletter to constituents, Jeff McKay, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, stressed the county’s focus on equity with the One Fairfax policy, saying that he will soon announce ” a blueprint to double down on our commitments.”
McKay also addressed the recent protests in D.C. after reports on Monday of police using tear gas and rubber bullets to dispel protesters from the area around a church where President Donald Trump then posed for a photo.
“I’m angry and disgusted that today, for the third time in as many days, we saw peaceful protestors tear-gassed and shot with pellet guns as they chanted for peace and change,” McKay said.
McKay’s full statement:
To the Fairfax County Community,
Over the weekend, millions marched the streets across the United States mourning the death of George Floyd and rightfully protesting the injustices and systemic racism experienced by generations of African American men and women in this country.
I’m angry and disgusted that today, for the third time in as many days, we saw peaceful protestors tear gassed and shot with pellet guns as they chanted for peace and change. Simultaneously, COVID-19 continues to showcase and exacerbate the disparities that exist in our most vulnerable communities.
Now more than ever, we know it is the role of our local government to achieve true structural change in our communities. We in Fairfax County must honestly ask ourselves, what actions are we taking?; what voices are we lifting up?; and for me as your Chairman, are our policies affecting systemic change in our community?
We are lucky to live in Fairfax County. Our Government has a team of employees who dedicate themselves to making us better every day. Our residents are diverse and challenge us to do more. Each member of the Board of Supervisors believes that we can always improve.
It is our commitment to our diversity that created our One Fairfax policy, which makes equity a requirement and recognizes that disparity is a fact. The Board of Supervisors and School Board adopted it to ensure that it is intentionally applied to all the work we do – not just reflected on when we are in crisis. In the coming days, I will announce a blueprint to double down on our commitments.
We have work to be done. In the days, weeks, and months ahead of us, we will continue to listen, encourage healthy dialogues, and have the courage to fight for what’s right.
On Friday, Fairfax County Police Department Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. talked about the police department’s community policing efforts and addressed eroding trust in law enforcement.
“We shall have faith the local and federal justice systems will navigate toward justice for the Floyd family, the communities impacted, and our entire nation,” he said. “However, we must be mindful there is a healing process where righteous anger needs to be constructively exercised through the right to free speech.”
Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash