In his weekly virtual town hall, Mayor Justin Wilson said signs are good that Alexandria could be pulling out of the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our percent of positive tests have been going down for an extended period of time,” Wilson said on Thursday night. “Our new hospitalizations are either going down or level at the moment. There’s still a number of days to go, but we’re heading into a situation where we could be ready to go for phase 1.”
Wilson also noted that Inova Alexandria Hospital has 50 COVID-19 patients, meaning the hospital is fine as far as capacity is concerned.
Alexandria and the rest of Northern Virginia had reopening delayed because the region was still a coronavirus hotspot. While there’s no official word on the matter from Gov. Northam, Wilson said Phase 1 for Northern Virginia will likely be similar to the rest of the state’s reopening guidelines.
As the city looks towards the first stage of reopening, Wilson said questions are already looming about what happens next.
“One of the questions that will now be something we work through is what do we do after Phase 1?” Wilson said. “Is there an effort to resynchronize with the rest of the state for Phase 2 or do we stay behind for the rest of the transition.”
Two testing sites are planned to open Monday, at Landmark Mall and Corra Kelly, with 3,000 tests being distributed for free. Wilson said this will be the first widespread testing for asymptomatic cases and Wilson said it should help give an idea of the spread in the community.
Wilson advised those going to get tested to wear marks and bring sunscreen because a line is likely.
Wilson also acknowledged that there had been a coronavirus outbreak at all nine of the city’s long-term care facilities.
“The city has experienced 11 total outbreaks,” Wilson said. “That’s multiple cases in one location. All nine of our long-term care facilities are deemed to have had an outbreak. Some of those are with only one or two cases, some with many more.”
Wilson said of the then-1627 cases (that’s gone up to 1,657 today), only 125 cases came from outbreaks, and 103 of those were from healthcare workers.
“Most cases are community transmission,” Wilson said. “I think that’s an important distinction and demonstrates why stay at home orders are so important.”
Staff photo by James Cullum