Alexandria, VA

The following Letter to the Editor was written by John Liss, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority, a statewide racial justice and pro-democracy organization based in Arlandria.

Perhaps no greater community illustrates the tone-deaf nature of ignoring the most vulnerable communities than Arlandria/Chirilagua.

This Alexandria neighborhood is primarily Latino, and as of May 7, 55% of the 572 tests given were positive. The rate of infection in this community of 16,000 is equivalent to global hot spot areas such as Queens, New York, Wuhan, China and Milan, Italy. Only concerted government action will control this outbreak, save lives and prevent
even further community spread.

In Alexandria, 39% of positive cases of COVID-19 and 38% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are Hispanic/Latinx, yet they only comprise 17% of the population. Chirilagua, the heart of the Latinx community, is among the hardest hit, with at least 50 families suffering from the virus (as of the end of April). Many immigrants are uninsured, and without access to quality and affordable health care they may not obtain medical care.

We are calling on Governor Northam to provide at least 2,000 tests per week until we can begin to accurately assess and address the spread of the virus, housing solutions to safely isolate, as well as the medical needs of this neighborhood.

Before the governor considers reopening the state he needs to leave the governor’s mansion and actually see what is happening here. Without thousands of tests, access to isolated housing, and medical treatment, Chirilagua residents face more illness and for some, death.

Reopening does not mean there is no longer a threat of getting sick – it means that if you do become sick, our hospitals will be able to take care of you, if you have health insurance, of course. Many Virginians will not have the option for testing or treatment, as they are uninsured or underinsured, and will then have to make a choice on paying for a test or paying for necessary bills.

To add insult to injury, not only are underserved communities like Chirilagua being willfully ignored, according to yesterday’s article in The Atlantic, officials in Virginia are “blending the results of two different types of coronavirus test in order to report a more favorable result to the public.”

After public outcry, earlier today the state did disaggregate this data. However, earlier this week the state briefly stopped reporting out tests and positive results by ZIP code. This information is important to identify hot spots that need more testing, and helps to target coordinated housing and health services.

Data transparency, access to testing, isolated housing, and treatment for ALL Virginians are essential to ensuring that it is safe for us all. In short, sending some Virginians back to work before it is safe to do so is irresponsible, callous, and will lead to more illness and death.

ALXnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity, at our discretion.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Tenants & Workers United will lead a rent protest in Arlandria today starting at 5 p.m., and the organization is asking low-income residents to make themselves heard by joining along in their cars or banging pots and pans from the windows of their residences.

The caravan is scheduled to assemble at 4:30 p.m. and will go through Arlandria with the message that rents in Virginia should be canceled during the pandemic. The protest is planned to last until 6 p.m.

“Make a sign with a message to the property managers to cancel rent,” Tenants & Workers United recently posted on Facebook. “Make noise with your pots & pans! Take pictures or videos and use #CANCELRENTVA on social media.”

On the West End, residents at the Southern Towers apartment complex are also threatening to strike, as the city is working with the landlord on a compromise.

A similar protest is also planned for Columbia Pike in Arlington. The protests coincide with International Workers’ Day, a day when labor movements traditionally protest to advocate for progressive reforms.

City Councilman Canek Aguirre previously told ALXnow that the city’s Latino community is deeply concerned about the pandemic, and hopes landlords take it easy on their tenants.

“There’s a lot of anxiety, and a lot of fear when it comes to having to pay rent that goes even beyond the fear of getting sick,” Aguirre said. “It’s difficult because the Latino community is facing multiple risks. We’re talking about a community that is likely working on the front lines, they’re having to take public transportation and they lack access to health care.”

Los vemos a las 4:30PM📍3801 Mt Vernon Avenu, Alexandria, VA 22305 🛺🚗🚕🚙O de sus ventanilla/balcón a las 5:00PM 🏠🖼🚪

Posted by Tenants and Workers United – Inquilinos y Trabajadores Unidos on Friday, May 1, 2020

Two weeks ago, the City Council voted to direct $671,570 in federal funding to provide rent assistance for low-income families in Alexandria. Council also passed a measure asking state and federal officials for a rent and mortgage freeze. The federal funds are available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and includes $1.1 million in block grants and $585,127 in Home Investment Partnership Program funds.

As previously reported, the city is continuing to work on a rental assistance program.

City funding can currently provide $500 in monthly financial assistance per home, according to city officials, and the funding is expected to help about 450 households. The city’s Office of Community Services also offers up to $6,000 per year to help low-income seniors pay their rent and utilities.

ALIVE! also helps low-income residents with help paying rent and utilities.

¡¡La gente está lista!! La caravana se junta a las 4:30 en el parqueo de ITU, o participa en el cacerolazo de tu casa…

Posted by Tenants and Workers United – Inquilinos y Trabajadores Unidos on Friday, May 1, 2020

Photo via Tenants & Workers United/Facebook

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These are tough times for local businesses, and ALXnow wants to help.

While we have also seen a decline in our own business, we are grateful for the sponsors that are sticking with us — McEnearney Associates, Berry & Berry, A Cleaning Service, ACT for Alexandria, Visit Alexandria, and The Foundry apartments.

During this time we know we have a platform to reach tens of thousands of Alexandrians that can really help others. That’s why we’re opening our Community Posts feature to any locally-owned small businesses during the pandemic.

If you own an Alexandria business and want to get the word out your new delivery service, online shop or unique offering, click here to submit a short post about it for publication on our site and email newsletter.

ALXnow will be providing this as a free service until we see a substantial recovery in the local economy.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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The following Letter to the Editor was written by Alexandria Fire Chief Corey Smedley.

Like every emergency, the Alexandria Fire Department approached this pandemic with the mindset that we will win the fight, no matter the circumstances – and that is NON-NEGOTIABLE. We have found the courage to redefine ourselves and think outside of the box to try new things in response to something we have never faced before.

I believe that together we can all find that courage as we continue to adjust and hold on to some form of normalcy in this current situation.

When I was officially named the Fire Chief for the Alexandria Fire Department in December 2019, I would have never thought our city would be facing an ongoing, global public health crisis within a few short months.

As a new chief, this can seem overwhelming, and make no mistake about it, COVID-19 is one of the greatest nemeses I have ever encountered to-date.

However, I knew what I was signing up for and I want to be battle-tested for future challenges. But I am not facing this alone. Your Fire Department is a team of talented, skilled and prepared individuals who are risking their own safety to respond to every single emergency call we receive.

The inherent qualities of the fire service profession are compassion, care, preparation, adaptability and teamwork, and we get to demonstrate those qualities even more during this unprecedented global pandemic.

I have seen many AFD leaders emerge during the COVID-19 response, and that increases my passion for fire service and for helping the community. And that is the behavior and character I want to see spread throughout our department – especially in times of crisis. I am honored to be a part of the AFD team, and I could not be prouder of the work our members are doing during this emergency.

I want to reiterate that it is important that everyone does their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping your families and our community safe. We’re all in this together.

Over the past couple of months, we have developed new procedures for emergency calls to keep everyone safe as we continue to carry out our mission.

As you continue to do your part by staying home, maintaining physical distancing and donning face masks when in public spaces, your Fire Department is taking every necessary step to keep our members safe and healthy so we can continue to respond to emergencies.

I have served the public in various ways my entire adult life, including eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve, six years in the Alexandria Fire Department, and nearly 30 years in the National Capital Region. Like many of the members of AFD and our regional public safety partners, I have served my community through various local and national emergencies including major fire incidents, mass shootings, significant weather events, mass gatherings, 9/11, H1N1, and now the coronavirus.

Over the years and through all those incidents, I have learned that our response is only as good as our partnerships with the community and other stakeholders. As the city’s former emergency manager, I recognize that the very first responders are members of the community.

The Alexandria community has not disappointed. You have offered your assistance in helping to feed our firefighters and paramedics; identified gaps and developed ways to meet those needs; and created ways to obtain and/or clean our personal protective equipment (PPE).

Now, I acknowledge that after months at home you may be feeling stressed, anxious and even afraid. We understand, because during these unusual times we are experiencing those feelings as well. Through it all, AFD remains ready to assist the community. Because, like the rest of the Alexandria community, we are strong, courageous and resilient.

Stay encouraged. Stay informed. Stay safe and healthy and we will get through this together.

ALXnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity, at our discretion.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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The following Letter to the Editor was written by Dr. Lauren Fisher, co-owner of Del Ray Psych and Wellness.

My message for people reading this is: You will get through this.

I am sitting at my kitchen table drinking my morning coffee, watching the birds, and doing my daily planning. The sky is bright blue with soft pillows of white and gray clouds rolling onto the horizon. For a moment, it feels normal and I revel in the peace of that familiarity.

The forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms today. The exact time or intensity of the rain storm is uncertain, but we know the general timeline of when the storm will end and when the sun will shine again. The radar models allow us to visually see the storms pass over our location. We can relax in knowing where the end is and we can adjust expectations and schedules accordingly.

I think that most of you would agree that the Pandemic is like one major ongoing rain storm that is moving through our lives, with a rotating mix of heavy rains, gray days, and moments of sunshine and brightness. Our daily routines have been disrupted, anxiety about health and fear of survival is dominant, economic disruption and financial stress is pervasive, and our emotional tolerance for discomfort is being tested daily. Unlike the actual storm of today, the exact course of the pandemic is still unknown and the aftermath of how our world looks is yet to be seen.

During trying times, I find the old adage “This too shall pass,” to be fitting words to keep in the forefront of my mind. After all, there must be a reason that this saying has persisted for thousands of years.

Our ancestors have survived hardships for thousands of years, including diseases, wars, famine, and political, economic, religious, and racial oppression. You are here because of your ancestors’ desire to survive and their determination to forge a path forward during their darkest days. You are biologically hardwired to survive. In fact, many of you have probably already weathered hardships in your lives and, as a result, discovered strengths that you didn’t even know that you possessed. The hardships and dark days are the moments in which your resilience begins, or your ability to positively adapt to situations as they come. Whether this is your first hardship or one of many, the rest of us are here to support you, to remind you that this will not last forever, and to help you find your personal power to navigate through this storm.

The secret truly is taking one day at a time and putting one foot in front of the other. While we cannot control or predict the course of the Pandemic “storm” we have the power to choose how we react to the situational stressors in front of us.

If we are scared about our health, we can keep worrying about the future without any resolution or we can take steps to keep ourselves healthy through social distancing, protective gear, and healthy nutrition. If we are sad and lonely, we can drink and eat away our sadness, or we can reach out to a friend, online group, or therapist for connection. If we are anxious, we can consume more news that worsens our anxiety or we can choose to soothe our nervous systems by taking a walk, listening to music, or breathing. If we are faced with financial burdens, we can assume the victim role or we can figure out what resources are available for relief at this time. If we are frustrated with the restrictions, we can choose to complain about this tirelessly or we can choose to be grateful that we are alive. If we feel powerless, we can choose to do nothing or we can choose to help ourselves or someone else in need.

With a somewhat unknown future, the best we can do is to take things day by day. Each day, we can assess what we need for our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Some reliable and proven methods to promote our well-being and to regulate the current emotional stress are:

  • Creating a daily schedule with focused goals, maintaining a routine that is closest to your
    “normal” life
  • Taking care of your personal hygiene
  • Eating nutritious meals,
  • Exercise and movement
  • Healthy sleep patterns
  • Connecting with other people daily
  • Being prepared by ordering supplies ahead of time (food, toiletries, prescriptions)
  • Finding ways to stay calm
  • Engaging in meaningful experiences

At times like these, we consciously need to be filling our personal tanks of internal resources because the persistent stress of the situation already has functioning lower. Conversely, we need to be aware of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are depleting our tanks and work on minimizing these, while also giving ourselves the grace to not be perfect.

Overall, the way in which we choose to take care of ourselves will impact our emotional experiences during this pandemic. Many people struggle with allowing themselves to experience negative emotions because of the actual physiological discomfort or because they believe that experiencing and showing emotions are a sign of weakness. In my opinion, true strength comes from the realization that experiencing a full range of emotions is part of the human condition. Acknowledging our emotions, to ourselves or others, frees us to move through the emotion and to identify what we need in that moment to release the emotion. There is ample opportunity to practice this during the pandemic because the majority of people are feeling varying degrees of anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness. It is true, you are not alone. In fact, this is one of the rare times that nearly everyone, literally, everyone around the globe is experiencing the same hardship. There has never been a more ideal time to practice expressing your feelings because others get it.

The good news is that in the middle of any storm, there are rays of sunlight or peaceful lulls between rolls of thunder and lightning. We can choose to find things that we are grateful for each day. We can appreciate the positives of pandemic life such as connecting more with family and friends, being able to exercise more, and/or having a less rushed day without commutes or over-involvement in activities.

We can be proud of ourselves in the ways in which we have shown resilience during these past few weeks, especially in the ways we creatively learned to adapt to the new situation. We can choose to find personal growth during this era, and who knows, perhaps even develop a healthier mindset and habits that we can carry forward.

ALXnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity, at our discretion.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Exactly one week after its first, Alexandria now has a second coronavirus fatality.

The city announced in a daily update that 16 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Alexandria and one additional fatality, bringing to the total number of cases to 241, including both fatalities.

The update also included a reminder that the increase in confirmed cases was likely due to a combination of additional testing capacity and an increase in community transmission.

“It is essential for all community members to stay home as much as possible, even if they don’t have a diagnosed illness,” the city said.

The Alexandria Harmonizers, a barbershop chorus based in Alexandria, said in a post on Facebook that local barbershop singer Brian R. Miller had died due to complications from COVID-19. The comments were full of locals who knew him, with one describing him as “an extraordinary person and friend.”

“Words cannot express our grief, but we will always remember Brian as a bright and shiny example to the world for all to emulate,” the Harmonizers said. “You will be sorely missed Brian and we will always have a place on the risers for you.”

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The following Letter to the Editor was written by Heather Peeler, the President and CEO of ACT For Alexandria.

If you’re like me, the last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.

One minute I’m over come by concern and fear. I’m worried about my sister, an ICU nurse in New York City, and all the other health care workers putting their own personal health at risk in order to serve our communities. I’m worried about the families that were already on the financial edge before the pandemic and the additional hardships that they will encounter with layoffs and school closures.

The next minute I’m filled with hope. I’ve been inspired by the volunteers organized by Volunteer Alexandria who are lending their time with patience and flexibility. I am also awed by the grit of our local business community that is finding creative ways to serve customers while supporting their employees. For example, Alexandria Restaurant Partners has raised more than $10,000 through the purchase of gift cards; 50% of the gift card value will be dedicated to an employee relief fund.

ALX at Home has a listing of the many innovative offerings from Alexandria’s business community. My days are also filled with gratitude. Alexandria’s nonprofits have demonstrated incredible responsiveness, compassion and commitment during the crisis.

This week, the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund awarded $245,000 to 25 organizations who are providing emergency food and household supplies to families in need. They are reconfiguring their program delivery models in compliance with social distancing guidelines and hiring staff to replace volunteers. As they face significant financial challenges due to canceled fundraisers and other revenue-generating activities, they are also ramping up their outreach to community members hardest hit by the outbreak.

I am grateful for the City of Alexandria and ACPS staff who have been working quietly behind the scenes to keep basic public services functioning while implementing new operations, policies and programs that will help Alexandria be resilient in the face of crisis.

I am filled with appreciation for the Alexandrians who are supporting one another in unprecedented ways. More than 400 people have donated to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund which has raised $470,000 to date. People are reaching out through Facebook groups and community listserves to collaborate and lend a hand.

We are likely weeks away from fully understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation and community. That’s why I’m also filled with determination. We can’t let our foot off the gas. We must resolve to be there for the community we love now and in the months to come.

If you would like to support nonprofits on the front lines of the emergency response, please consider donating to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund. A gift of any size will make a big difference. And starting on April 3 you can directly support your favorite nonprofit through Spring2ACTion, which celebrates our community spirit through an online 24-hour giving event on April 15.

As we navigate crises together, I am proud to be part of a community that recognizes our shared humanity through generosity and love.

ALXnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity, at our discretion.

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A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Alexandria.

The news comes a day after the city declared a local emergency, and two days after Alexandria City Public Schools announced schools were closing until mid-April.

In a press release, the city says the second person to test positive had attended a conference in D.C. on Feb. 25 and “come in close contact with an individual later confirmed to have COVID-19.” The resident then travelled internationally, began to feel unwell, and returned home to start self-quarantining on March 6.

More from a press release:

The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) has reported a second presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Alexandria. The results are considered presumptive, pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The second case is an Alexandria resident who attended a conference in Washington, D.C. on February 25 and came in close contact with an individual later confirmed to have COVID-19. The Alexandria resident immediately departed for international travel, and began to feel unwell during the trip. As a result, the resident self-quarantined at home immediately upon return to Alexandria on March 6, and received regular monitoring from AHD. The resident was evaluated, tested and released from Inova Alexandria Hospital and is doing well at home. They will remain under self-isolation and be monitored by AHD until it is safe for them to return to their normal activities.

Individuals who came in close contact with the confirmed case at the February 25 conference have already been contacted by health officials. AHD is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health to identify and contact any additional people who may have come in close contact with this case. Those identified as close contacts will be asked to self-quarantine and actively monitor for fever and respiratory symptoms. If they start experiencing symptoms, they will immediately undergo testing.

The risk to the general Alexandria public remains low, because there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria other than the two related to other known cases. If you are not connected to a known case and are experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your health care provider for an evaluation. AHD has provided guidance and recommendations on COVID-19 screening and testing to all Alexandria physicians.

A number of events and activities around Alexandria have been cancelled or postponed, according to an email sent by the city on Saturday.

Activities and programs produced by the Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities are cancelled through March 21; Office of Historic Alexandria through March 22; and Alexandria Library through March 31. These changes will be re-evaluated on a rolling basis; see each department website for details. City recreation centers, library branches, art centers and museums remain open on normal operating schedules. For a list of individual meeting schedules and cancellations, visit alexandriava.gov/Calendar.

The email also details how residents can protect themselves against the virus and the deadly disease it causes:

The most important ways to protect against COVID-19 are the easiest:

  • Wash your hands often by rubbing them together with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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A person who tested positive for the coronavirus spent time in a chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary, the City of Alexandria announced Tuesday night.

In a press release, the city said that worshipers and visitors to Immanuel Chapel between Feb. 26 and March 4 should monitor themselves for symptoms.

Separately, ALXnow has learned that Alexandria firefighters held an internal conference call at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday “to provide the department with information for situational awareness regarding coronavirus.” First responders received at least one call earlier in the day for a person with a fever who had been in contact with someone who had the virus.

The full press release from the city is below.

On March 10, 2020, the Alexandria Health Department was notified that a resident of Washington, D.C., who now has a confirmed case of the COVID-19 coronavirus spent time at the Immanuel Chapel of the Virginia Theological Seminary (3737 Seminary Rd.). The Alexandria Health Department’s investigation and consultation with the Virginia Department of Health have determined that all congregants and visitors to the Immanuel Chapel between February 26 and March 4 may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider this type of exposure to be low risk, the Alexandria Health Department recommends that anyone who visited the Immanuel Chapel on those dates monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days from their last visit.

Self-monitoring includes checking body temperature twice a day and monitoring for symptoms of cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or temperature higher than 100.4 F. Any individual who was potentially exposed at Immanuel Chapel and has any of these symptoms, or develops them within 14 days of visiting, should notify the Alexandria Health Department by phone at 703.746.4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If they develop these symptoms, they should also self-isolate and limit contact with others.

Individuals who visited Immanuel Chapel during the above dates but do not have the above symptoms do not need to call. The Alexandria Health Department is identifying and contacting individuals who are at higher risk to provide further guidance.

The entire Alexandria community should stay updated and informed about COVID-19. Everyone can help prevent the spread of respiratory illness with these everyday actions:

  • Wash your hands often by rubbing them together with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

For more information about the Alexandria Health Department’s response to COVID-19 and additional steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you, visit alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus.

Photo via Virginia Theological Seminary/Facebook

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Alexandria is a good place to weather a recession — potentially good news on a day in which the Dow plummeted more 2,000 points at one point.

The city ranked No. 23 on a new list of the 25 “Most Recession-Resistant Cities” in 2020, according to the website SmartAsset. Nearby Arlington ranked No. 15 on the list.

Alexandria and others on the list — Frisco, Texas was No. 1 — were ranked on the basis of employment, housing and social assistance available to residents.

“The Great Recession wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, with unemployment peaking at 10.1% in October 2009,” a SmartAsset spokesperson said, in introducing the rankings. “Not all cities, however, were hit equally by this economic crisis and some are better equipped to weather the next downturn.”

Federal employment and growth spurred by Amazon’s HQ2 should help cushion blows from a new recession in Alexandria, though the last major downturn — the Great Recession of the late aughts — did have negative impacts on small local businesses and nonprofits.

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Morning Notes

Questions About Homicide Arrest at T.C. — “Because Aly’s arrest was part of an ongoing criminal investigation, Virginia State Police, the lead law enforcement agency on the case, haven’t released details about his connection to the crime. But some parents and students have sought answers to different questions: Why did the arrest take place at school, and what happened at the school that day?” [Alexandria Times]

Rec Registration Starts Next Week — “Registration for spring and summer classes and activities offered by the City of Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18 for City residents and Friday, March 20 for nonresidents. Spring and summer registration applies to classes, leagues and activities occurring April through August 2020.” [City of Alexandria]

Controlled Burn Leads to Hazy Sunday — Across much of the D.C. area Sunday afternoon, smoke from a controlled burn at Marine Corps Base Quantico led to temporary hazy conditions outside and a “campfire” smell. [ARLnow]

“Moonlight and Magnolias” at Little Theatre Until March 21 — “It’s Hollywood, 1939. Legendary film producer David O. Selznick is five weeks into shooting ‘Gone with the Wind’ when he realizes the script is awful and the director doesn’t have a clue. He has a few short days to replace them and restart shooting or the production will shut down.” [Gazette]

Nominations Open For Chamber of Commerce’s 40 Under 40 — “The 40 under 40 class celebrate 40 outstanding leaders and innovators who either live or work within the city of Alexandria. The nomination period closes March 13, 2020. Go to www.thechamberalx.com/young-leaders-network.html to nominate a leader for this honor.” [Alexandria Living]

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With the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the D.C. area, Alexandria’s DASH transit agency says it will be taking extra precautions.

In a press release Friday afternoon, DASH said it is “increasing facility and vehicle cleaning with a special focus on critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails and other surfaces.” It is also encouraging passengers “to utilize everyday methods to prevent the spread of germs recommended by the CDC and Alexandria’s Health Department.”

More from the press release:

Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) is joining regional transit agencies and local authorities in taking steps to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19 or novel coronavirus. As a public transportation agency responsible for the safety and security of thousands of passengers daily, DASH is increasing measures to maintain a safe and healthy environment for its passengers and personnel.

“We’re a public transit agency, so of course safety is always our top priority. We are taking precautions and preparing in accordance with CDC guidelines to protect both our passengers and our personnel,” said Stephanie Salzone, DASH safety and security manager.

DASH is increasing facility and vehicle cleaning with a special focus on critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails and other surfaces. These cleanings will incorporate disinfection procedures indicated to be effective against COVID-19. These measures apply to all DASH buses and King Street Trolleys.

In addition to these efforts, DASH encourages all passengers to utilize everyday methods to prevent the spread of germs recommended by the CDC and Alexandria’s Health Department. These include frequently and effectively washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Be sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines for proper handwashing.

The public is also encouraged to cover any coughing or sneezing with a tissue or sleeve. Used tissues should be immediately discarded in an appropriate garbage receptacle. Hands should be washed immediately after coughing or sneezing.

Finally, anyone experiencing fever, coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath is encouraged to stay home and avoid outside contact whenever possible.

According to the CDC, general risk among the American public outside of areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is low. Of the 164 of coronavirus across 19 states, none have been reported in Virginia or the district. As of March 5, three individuals in Maryland have tested positive for the virus and Governor Hogan has declared a state of emergency.

The City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Health Department, Inova Health System, and the Alexandria City Public Schools will host an online virtual information session on Thursday, March 12, from 8 to 9 p.m., to provide information and answer questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The session will also address how government agencies, businesses and residents can prepare. A recording of the session will be available after the session end

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