Friday Morning Notes

Blackboard to Sublease Half of Reston Headquarters — “Blackboard Inc., which has played a role in helping school systems shift to online learning amid the Covid-19 pandemic, is hoping to shed half of the headquarters space it leased in Reston nearly two years ago as part of a relocation from its longtime home in the District.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Offers Job Training — “The Fairfax County Department of Family Services is able to reskill and upskill job seekers recovering from the impacts of the global pandemic. Focusing on high-demand skills, eligible Virginians can access free training in five essential industries.” [Fairfax County Government]

Deaths Increase in Virginia During Thanksgiving Holiday Traffic — “Ten people died on Virginia roadways over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the Virginia State Police. One of the deaths was a 6-year-old boy. From Nov. 25 through Nov. 29, the state police reported eight fatal crashes, leading to the 10 deaths, an increase from 2019 when there were eight traffic deaths during the five-day Thanksgiving period.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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COVID-19 is now more widespread in Fairfax County than it was when the pandemic’s first wave hit in the spring.

Reporting 262 new cases just today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has recorded a total of 31,388 COVID-19 cases since the novel coronavirus first arrived in March. 2,561 people have been hospitalized, and 638 people have died from the disease.

Fairfax County officially surpassed the spring peak on Nov. 24 when it reported 308.3 cases on average over the previous seven days. The highest seven-day average recorded in the spring was 303 cases on May 31.

The weekly average caseload then hit an all-time high of 352.3 cases on Sunday (Nov. 29) before dipping down to a seven-day average of 324.9 cases today, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

Fairfax County also recorded its highest single-day case count of the pandemic this past weekend when it saw 496 new cases on Nov. 28. The previous record was 493 cases on May 25.

However, Fairfax County’s hospitalization and death rates remain well below where they were in the spring.

Currently, Fairfax County is averaging 7.86 hospitalizations over the past seven days, compared to the peak of 35.57 hospitalizations over seven days recorded on May 4. The county is seeing a seven-day average of 1.29 deaths right now, but the seven-day average was 14 deaths on May 4 after there was a single-day record of 31 deaths on May 3.

The surge in COVID-19 cases that Fairfax County is witnessing right now falls in line with the overall trend for Northern Virginia as a region, which recorded its highest seven-day moving average of 815.7 cases on Nov. 29.

By comparison, the pandemic’s spring surge peaked at a seven-day regional moving average of 685.3 cases on May 31.

The continued upward trajectory of COVID-19’s spread in Fairfax County comes after health officials warned that the traveling, intimate family gatherings, and in-person holiday shopping typically associated with Thanksgiving weekend could exacerbate the pandemic.

Given the lag time between when someone is exposed to the coronavirus and when a new case is actually reported, Fairfax County’s current COVID-19 data suggests the worst may still be on the horizon.

Images via CDC on Unsplash; graphs via Virginia Department of Health, Fairfax County Health Department 

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and with that brings closures around the county. Let’s take a look at what’s open, and what’s closed.

All Fairfax County Government offices will be closed on Nov. 26 and 27 for the holiday. 

The Fairfax Connector will be operating on a Sunday service on Thursday, and a holiday weekday service on Friday. 

Fairfax County Public Schools provided seven-day meal kits for Thanksgiving week, which were available for pickup through Nov. 24. 

In Herndon, all trash collection is halted for the holiday, and all trash usually collected Thursday will be collected today. 

Reston Community Center in Hunters Woods will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. the day after. However, RCC Lake Anne will be closed both days. 

All Fairfax County parks will be closed on Thanksgiving, but all RECenters are open until noon. The day after Thanksgiving, the RECenters will be running normal hours and Frying Pan Farm Park will open its farm and indoor area. 

Photo by Shoeib Abolhassani/Unsplash

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Thanksgiving is just a couple days away, and there are still a few area restaurants taking orders.

In Reston, Founding Farmers Reston Station (1904 Reston Metro Plaza Drive) is offering three pre-order options for a “Thanksgiving Prix Fixe,” which will also include a vegan option. The restaurant will provide contact-free curbside pickup on Thursday.

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks (11920 Democracy Dr.), also in Reston, is offering two options – one for adults and one for kids – for preorder.

Clyde’s (11905 Market Street) in Reston will be open for reservation or pickup. It is offering two Thanksgiving options – a traditional turkey dinner and a glazed spiral ham dinner – in addition to its regular menu items.

In Fairfax, 2941 (2941 Fairview Park Drive) extended the availability of its Thanksgiving menu, which includes a variety of options for dine-in or carryout.

Other restaurants in Reston and the surrounding area offering dine-in or takeout for Thanksgiving include:

Photo via Unsplash

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston Association Offers Update on Capital Projects — Chris Schumaker, RA’s director of capital projects, offers an update on recent capital projects, including the roof replacement at Uplands Pool and concrete repairs at Lake Newport Pool. [Reston Today]

County Offers Recommendations on Celebrating Winter Holidays — “Recommendations shared for Thanksgiving apply to December holidays as well. Remember: the safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is with people in your household. Therefore, we recommend making the holidays more leisurely this year. Stay home, stay cozy, and keep it small and simple.” [Fairfax County Government]

Local Volunteer Wins Elly Doyle Award — Leslie painter, who frequently volunteers at Frying Pan Farm Park and also serves on the board of directors, has been selected for an Elly Doyle Award. [YouTube]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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As Thanksgiving approaches, Fairfax County reported the highest weekly average of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began earlier this year. The news comes as the county and state record peaks in the number of new cases reported and appear to confirm fears of a second wave of cases.

Even as the possibility of a vaccine becomes reality, health officials are urging residents to avoid celebrating the holiday with members outside ones’ household, if possible.

As of today (Monday), the state’s health department reported 453 new cases, second only to the highest number of new cases (493) per day that was reported on June 25. To date, the county has had 38,798 cases, 2,474 hospitalizations and 614 deaths.

Based on the current trajectory of cases, more evidence shows that cases have been growing at an exponential rate in the county over the last month.

The county’s test positivity rate is 8.3 percent, more than one percentage point higher than the statewide test positive rate, which is currently 7.2 percent. In the state, 3,242 new cases were reported today, according to state health data.

Similar surges have been detected regionally recently.

“The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fairfax and Loudoun health districts is officially surging, according to new analysis from the University of Virginia, and the Northern Virginia region’s overall caseload is at its highest level since it peaked May 31,” InsideNova reported.

The Virginia Department of Health attributed some of today’s case counts to “a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades for a few hours this weekend.”

Hospitalizations, however, remain relatively low in the county. As of today, two new hospitalizations were reported and no new deaths were reported.

Photo 1 via Unsplash; photo 2 via Fairfax County Department of Health

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Reston area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Reston, Herndon and Great Falls. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Monday (Nov. 23)

  • Thanksgiving Food Drive (November 1-23) — Patrons, businesses, and organizations are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food and other items at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road) and Lake Anne facilities, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and a variety of other drop-off points throughout the community, the website said. View this link to see the most needed items.

Tuesday (Nov. 24)

  • Spanish Chat (1-2 p.m.) — Residents can practice Spanish conversation informally online at this virtual event, which is organized by Great Falls Library. A Zoom invite will be sent to registered participants one day before the discussion.

Friday (Nov. 27)

  • Chocolate Factory Band (7 p.m.) — The Chocolate Factory Band will grace the stage of P.J. Mulligan’s once again. Patrons are encouraged to come early as COVID-19 restrictions will be in effect at the location (2310 Woodland Crossing Drive).

Saturday (Nov. 28)

  • Carriage Rides (November 28 – December 19) – 4-9 p.m. at Reston Town Center (11900 Market St.) – For $30, enjoy a journey along the streets of Reston Town Center and benefit local charities, the website said. The carriage will depart from the Pavilion on Market Street. Groups are limited to five people and masks are required. To register, use this link.

Sunday (Nov. 29)

  • Train Rides (November 29 – December 20) – 12-3:45 p.m. at Reston Town Center (11900 Market St.) – For $20, enjoy a mini train ride with the family through the streets of Reston Town Center and benefit local charities, the website said. The train will depart from the Pavilion on Market Street. Groups are limited to four people and masks are required. To register, use this link.

Photo by Wade Gilley

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Monday Morning Notes

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely in Reston — “While it may be tempting to enjoy traditions as usual, the safest thing you can do, the CDC says, is celebrate at home with people who are part of your immediate household.  [Reston Patch]

Registration Opens for Winter Break Camp — The camp will begin on Dec. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for children between ages five and 12. Enrollment is available on a daily basis. [RA]

FCPS Wins Three Communications Awards — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has won three awards in the 2020 CHESPRA (Chesapeake Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association) communications contest.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Next week is the formal day set aside for thanksgiving. For many that means food, and I love the foods associated with the holiday of Thanksgiving. It is a time of generosity as many people and groups make sure that everyone has something to eat at least on that day. For others the meaning of Thanksgiving may be the sales that come with unique bargains that are offered on “Black Friday” although I do not know how those sales will be accommodated during a pandemic. Certainly the crowds pressed against the front doors of stores about to open would not be safe nor would the rush to the best bargains be a good idea.

Some believe that the first Thanksgiving occurred on December 4, 1619 when Captain John Woodlief and 35 Englishmen landed at what is now known as Berkeley Plantation. They immediately fell to their knees as the charter under which they were sailing required giving thanks to the good Lord for their safe passage from what had been a rough voyage and for the thousands of acres of pristine lands on which they were going to settle. There was no mention of the indigenous people who had occupied the land for as many as 15,000 years before their arrival. More than a year later at Plymouth Settlement a festival occurred that included settlers and indigenous people in what is more often referred as the first Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving as a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November dates to a proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863. Even in the midst of a civil war, Lincoln reminded the nation of “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies” under the “providence of Almighty God.” Lincoln found that “a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity” had not “arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship” and “the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase in freedom…the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”

The spirit of Lincoln should be with us as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Our institutions of government have been tested over the last nearly four years as seldom before. The voters have largely dispersed those who showed little respect for our values and traditions. It will soon be less painful to read the morning newspaper or to listen to the evening news. There will be fewer times of looking at social media with disbelief at the actions of our national leaders. We will have lively debates as we always do in our democratic republic, but those debates can lead to greater freedoms from inequalities, hunger and health threats.

The pandemic is testing our patience as few other events in our lives have, but we can remind ourselves and others that face masks, social distancing, and no crowds will help to preserve our health as well as that of others. And we can remind ourselves and others that the blessings we ultimately enjoy are not simply of our own making but are as Lincoln reminded us “the gracious gifts of the Most High God”–by whatever name we may call that spirit!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving next week!

 

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Company Charges Up — “Reston, Virginia-based Electrify America said it has more than 500 electric vehicle charging stations now open across the U.S., with a total of more than 2,200 individual fast chargers. Electrify America began building its nationwide network of EV charging stations in 2018 to address the range anxiety many EV drivers experience when venturing too far from work or home.” [WTOP]

Northam Says Rising COVID-19 Cases Are ‘Concerning’ — “Northam said there were 1,435 new cases of the novel coronavirus detected Monday, continuing a daily trend upward that’s been going on for weeks. He added that the test positivity rate, which had been down below 5% a few weeks ago, was up to 6.2% — a key indicator of how reliable the other numbers are.” [WTOP]

Clearview ES Adds Winter Coat Drive to Giving Program — “Clearview Elementary and the Clearview PTA are teaming up once again to bring joy to the school’s community as part of its annual Joy of Giving Program. The school will distribute winter coats, hats, gloves, gift cards, and Thanksgiving food baskets to Clearview families in need.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, Fairfax County Emergency Information released a list of guidelines with information on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely.

The county emphasized it’s still vital to work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Despite the cold months and inevitable pandemic fatigue, community members can’t let their guards down now, health officials say.

The county’s seven-day average of cases is creeping up. On Nov. 2, the weekly case count was the highest since mid-June when an average of 137 cases was recorded on June 12. Now, that number has increased to nearly 134 weekly cases.

According to the guidelines, high-risk activities include:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving,
  • Participating in or spectating a crowded race.
  • Attending crowded parades.
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household.

Moderate-risk activities include:

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends in your community.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchids where people use hand sanitizer before touching produce, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced and people can maintain social distancing.
  • Attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place.

Lower risk activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with people who live in your household.
  • Having virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
  • Preparing recipes for family and neighbors and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Shopping online the day after Thanksgiving, as opposed to in-person.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.

The county also advises not participating in in-person activities if you or anyone in your household has or are showing symptoms of COVID-19. They advise following the CDC’s recommendations on holiday gatherings to further lower risk. Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

Photo via Unsplash

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Cornerstones, a nonprofit that aids the Northwestern Fairfax County area, is combining two of its annual drives to eliminate the possible spread of COVID-19.

Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive hosted every year, one week before Thanksgiving, and its Gifts for Kids, hosted every December will both run from November 16-20 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church (11900 Lawyers Road).

Both drives will provide extra help to families that are in need this holiday season. Due to the pandemic, Cornerstones will be assisting more families than usual.

“Normal years, we’re serving between 700-750 families,” said Nate King, Director of Urgent Needs and Herndon Resource Center Operations, “And this provides them with the non-perishable food items, as well as we give them a gift card for $25 to one of our local store chains that they can use to buy things like milk, dairy, meat products, and other things to help them with their Thanksgiving food dinner.”

This year, King said Cornerstones is “looking at helping between 1,000-1,050 families.”

The times of the drives will be Monday – Thursday (Nov. 16-19) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday (Nov. 20) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Although this year’s gifts will look different, more children will be receiving them.

“Normally teenagers ages 13-18 get gift cards through this particular drive this year, all children ages zero to 18, who get registered for this are going to get gift cards,” said King. “Normal years, we help about 1,300-1,400 children. We’re anticipating it’s going be closer to 1,600 this year, due to the upswing in people that are having problems getting jobs or that are losing jobs.”

The drive will be a contactless interaction, so donors and recipients can expect to have little interaction with Cornerstones’ employees.

“Basically, our volunteers will come and take everything out of your trunk if you’re making a donation and take it into the search,” said King. “And if you’re a donor-recipient coming in, you will be able to drive up and we will put it in your trunk you will not have to get out of your car to get the service so that everybody is protected.”

Northwestern Fairfax County families that are interested in the Thanksgiving Food Drive and Gifts for Kids can register online, or contact Minnie Orozco at 571-323-1410.

Photo via Cornerstones/Facebook

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After brief changes to parking over Thanksgiving break, free holiday garage parking will return to Reston Town Center this month.

Although garage parking is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends, changes are planned for the holiday season. Typically, the first hour of parking is free on weekdays.

From Dec. 21 through New Year’s Day, garage parking will be free.

Parking was also free from Nov. 23 through Sunday (Dec. 1), in addition to the following holidays:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day

File photo

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Most Fairfax County offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving.

Fairfax County libraries will be closed both days. Courts close at noon tomorrow (Wednesday) and will remain closed on Thursday and Friday.

All Reston Association offices, including the Nature House and Central Services Facility, will be closed. Offices close at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).

The Fairfax Connector operates on a Sunday schedule on Thursday. Routes without Sunday service will not operate. The next day, commuters can expect a modified holiday weekend schedule.

Reston Community Center Lake Anne is closed both days, while the location at Hunters Woods is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.

Residents who receive trash and recycling collection from the county will have regular collection services both days. Residents with collection services from a private company should contact the service provider for the modified holiday schedule.

File photo

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Nearly half of all adults the United States say they’re trying to trim widening waistlines, but it’s unclear if that happens during annual Thanksgiving feasts.

On Thanksgiving, roughly 45 million turkeys will be consumed this year, according to the National Turkey Foundation.

Do you plan to embrace gluttony during your Thanksgiving meal or will you try to cut back this year? Let us know in the poll below.

Photo via Unplash

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