Reston, VA

The number of new coronavirus cases is slowing down in Fairfax Health District, which is welcome news as the county prepares for cooler temperatures and the flu season.

Cases began rising this summer, about three weeks after Gov. Ralph Northam announced Virginia could enter Phase 3 of his statewide reopening plan. They peaked at the end of August, and have since dipped down slightly.

The weekly average of new reported COVID-19 cases has decreased slowly, but steadily, with Fairfax Health District reporting an average of 93 new cases over the last week. On Wednesday morning, 64 new cases were reported, according to local health data. Two deaths were reported on Tuesday, state data show.

The cumulative totals for all three currently stand at 20,640 cases, 2,153 hospitalizations and 596 deaths in the health district.

The rate of positive COVID tests also continues to decrease, down to 4.2 percent as of Monday morning, compared to 5.6 percent last week.

Recently, the Virginia Department of Health has started publishing data on COVID cases broken down by zip code. The highest rates of infection are found in and around the city of Alexandria and in municipalities that border Arlington County. Cities and towns outside the district’s urban center have lower infection rates.

One outlier is the zip code for Herndon, which has the fifth-highest infection rate in the district, or 3,368 cases per 100,000 people, according to the published data. The 20170 zip code is the only designated area with such a high rate that does not touch Fairfax County’s most populous regions.

Just as coronavirus cases decline, however, flu season is approaching. Anticipating the first day of fall, Tuesday, and the beginning of flu season, Reston Hospital Center launched a series of informational posts on its social media accounts to combat false information about vaccines and encourage residents to protect themselves against the flu.

We're launching a new social series this fall to clear up misinformation and help our communities stay healthy….

Posted by Reston Hospital Center on Monday, September 14, 2020

Health experts urge folks as young as six months old to get a flu shot, as it will reduce the chance of exhibiting symptoms that could be confused with those of COVID-19.

“Flu season is coming at a time when COVID-19 still is affecting many individuals in our health district,” said Fairfax Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu in a press release published Friday.

Keeping down the rates of illnesses, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions for the flu will also alleviate stress on the healthcare system, officials say.

“To limit the possibility of widespread transmission of both viruses occurring in our communities at the same time, it is vital that everyone get their flu shot,” Addo-Ayensu said.

Image via Virginia Health Department

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The Vantage Hill Condominium Association has tweaked its designs for the vacant pool and parking lot in response to concerns from neighbors and the Reston Association’s Design Review Board this summer.

The pool, part of the condominium complex at 11619 Vantage Hill Road, has accumulated algae and mosquitoes for about seven years. Craftmark Homes, a homebuilding company with property in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., is proposing a facelift for the 2.1-acre plot that includes new townhouses.

The new plan allows for fewer townhouses than the 31 that were originally drafted, Rob Schumann, the treasurer of the Vantage Hill Condominium Association, told Reston Now. They will also be situated farther back from the road.

Vantage Hill, comprised of 152 one- to three-bedroom units, was one of Reston’s early developments, built in the 1960s. But condo association members say the complex is falling apart and the high HoA fees barely cover upkeep, let alone needed upgrades, which could cost $30,000 to $40,000 per unit, Schumann said.

The project would bring in the needed cash to redo the 60-year-old shared electrical and water meters, which are plagued with problems, and replace the single-paned windows and sliding doors with energy-efficient ones.

“The answer to people who say, ‘Vantage Hill should take care of itself,’ is that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re not going to the government, and we’re not asking for a handout.”

When the project came before the DRB on June 23, neighbors said there were too many townhouses and predicted increases in light pollution, traffic and tree removal. Some cautioned against any work, while others asked for measures to calm traffic and minimize noise.

In response, Vantage Hill and Craftmark have agreed to build fewer townhouses, although the final number has not yet been decided, Schumann said.

The townhouses will be farther back from Wainwright Drive, which he said responds to concerns that having them too close to the street would break with the character of nearby clusters and subject more trees to the ax.

The updated plan will receive more feedback from the Reston Association’s Design Review Board during a task-force meeting on Oct. 1. A vote is not planned at the meeting, Schumann said. After the meeting, if no further work sessions are needed, the association and Craftmark Homes will present their project to the board in a regular meeting, when members will vote whether to proceed.

This application has no defined timeline, said Mike Leone, the spokesman for the Reston Association, in an email. Infill and redevelopment applications typically involve multiple work sessions and assignment to the agenda of full Design Review Board meetings, he said.

After five years spent finding a way to fund these updates, members are pinning their hopes on selling the 2.1-acre plot to Craftmark Homes. The homebuilding group is the third developer to work with the association.

As for carving out land to sell to a developer, Leone said “it is not uncommon for associations and their boards to consider all of their options as they prepare to pay for costly infrastructure repairs.”

Photo via RA

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