The Alexandria City Council on Saturday passed an ordinance requiring everyone in the city to wear a face mask in public.
The measure passed 5-2, and a $100 civil penalty for not wearing a mask was removed from the ordinance before passage after it was universally agreed at the meeting by council and city staff that it will not be enforceable. The city manager must now designate city staff to hand out masks and citations to lawbreakers.
The ordinance will go into effect on October 1 and expire when Alexandria’s local emergency declaration ends.
“I think it’s good in the sense that it signals our intent to the community,” City Councilman Mo Seifeldein said. “I did not think this is actually going to be enforced at all, but there there are many laws or ordinances that have binds that are not enforced because we use our discretion and common sense in doing them.”
City Councilman Canek Aguirre and Councilwoman Del Pepper voted against the mask ordinance. Aguirre said that the matter was never brought forward to council by The Partnership For A Healthier Alexandria, the Public Health Advisory Commission, Neighborhood Health or the Inova hospital system.
“I’m in opposition to this,” Aguirre said. “I strongly feel that an ordinance is not the way to go, especially when there’s absolutely no way to enforce this.”
A number of city residents spoke against the ordinance.
“I come to you as someone who’s already been physically assaulted by two men for requiring them wearing face masks in my business,” said Alan Pounders, who runs a restaurant along the waterfront. “Myself and my staff, we’ve been verbally assaulted over this on almost a daily basis.”
There are exceptions. Children under the age of 10 will not be required to wear a mask, nor will people with disabilities that can’t wear them for health reasons and athletes falling within the governor’s executive order on COVID-19 restrictions.
There are 62 COVID-related fatalities and there are now or have been 3,613 cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Sarah Rose, a nurse at Inova Alexandria Hospital, has been named one of six top nurses in the region by the Washington Post and the American Nurses Association.
Rose was one of 18 finalists in contention to be named for the first-ever Nightingale Award in their 2020 Star Nurses Awards.
“Sarah is a true leader,” said Maureen E. Sintich, chief nurse executive for the Inova Health System. “She has established an environment that speaks volumes within the Cardiac Step-down Unit at IAH. She is resilient in her education of others and approaches challenging events head on. Congratulations to Sarah and Inova’s other finalists, who excel on the frontline every day.”
Rose has worked on unit 28 — the Twig Pavilion critical care unit at Alexandria Hospital — for the last six years. She has been a register nurse unit supervisor for the last four years.
The winners of the award were originally listed in Star Nurses Digital Magazine.
Photo via Inova Alexandria Hospital
Arlandria Champion Kevin Beekman Passes Away — “It is with great sorrow that we announce that Kevin Beekman, an Arlandria hero and force behind the Four Mile Run Conservancy and Farmer’s Market, lost his battle with amyloidosis on August 24. Kevin was part of the fabric of Arlandria.” [Zebra]
Beyer Says Republican National Convention is Corrupt — “The White House is not the property of Donald Trump or the Republican Party, it belongs to the American people. These actions cheapen the office and degrade the nation. This convention, like the person at its core, is fundamentally corrupt.” [Twitter]
Coronavirus Cases Reach 3,333 in Alexandria — “Positive tests up 9 to 3,333 in the City 7-day Positivity Rate up to 5.9%. One new hospitalization.” [Twitter]
Live Outdoor Concert Tonight Honoring Anniversary of March on Washington — “A program of vibrant, meaningful and historic music, presented by prominent Washington Artists on the anniversary weekend of the March on Washington.” [Visit Alexandria]
ALIVE! Warns of Scam Calls — “Periodically ALIVE! seems to be the target of scammers. Please know that ALIVE! staff and leaders will never ask you to purchase gift certificates in specific amounts or at specific places, or make unusual personal requests. Please contact us directly if in doubt of any request.” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — During the day, “More clouds than sun. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High around 90F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” At night, “Scattered thunderstorms during the evening, then cloudy skies overnight. Low around 75F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Tour Guide — “We specialize in performing haunted pub tours. Think ghost tour combined with Pub Crawl and there you have it.” [Indeed]
Alexandrian Killed in D.C. Shooting — “Metropolitan Police identified Montrell Lucas, 18, of Alexandria, as one of two victims who were killed Tuesday night. Police responded to the 1600 block of Maryland Avenue Northeast around 8:46 p.m. for a report of a shooting and found three victims.” [Patch]
D.C. Company Sends Out Incomplete Ballot Applications — “Judith, a city of Alexandria resident, received the letter, which includes a partially completed application for a mail-in voting ballot and a pre-addressed and prepaid envelope to send the application to her registrar’s office. But her ballot application would have gone to the wrong address.” [NBC4]
Inova Reveals Design for New Healthplex in Oakville Triangle — “Oakville Triangle, located on the opposite side of Route 1 from the new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and the Metro, will see new residential, some retail and public open space adjacent to Mount Jefferson Park. The new Inova Healthplex will feature an emergency room as well as other outpatient services and medical services.” [Alexandria Living]
Annual Classic Car Show Postponed to 2021 — “After careful consideration, the Old Town Festival of Speed & Style Board of Directors have made the difficult decision to not move forward with the re-scheduled September event.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “Mixed clouds and sun with scattered thunderstorms. High 84F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 60%.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Alexandria Police are Hiring — “Interested in applying for our department? Register for our upcoming tests using the link below!” [Twitter]
New Job: Land Acquisition Manager — “If you’ve been involved in land acquisition/development for a publicly-traded homebuilder we would like to connect. We are developing residential and mixed-use communities for the future.” [Indeed]
Alexandria’s death toll from the coronavirus hit 60 yesterday, and Inova Alexandria Hospital staff are concerned about a resurgence.
Hospital staff are experiencing burnout, and they are currently treating 16 COVID patients in the hospital and nine symptomatic persons, Inova Alexandria Hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal told ALXnow.
“Our teams are exhausted, and they are burned out,” Bansal said. “COVID is nowhere near controlled nationally… As we start to see a few more patients in the ICU, our teams rightfully are wondering if we’re going back to what we experienced in March and April.”
During that period, the hospital saw upward of 90 coronavirus patients. Visitation is still restricted at the facility, which saw about 30 COVID patients in the early days of the pandemic.
The most recent fatality in Alexandria is a woman in her 80s.
There are now or have been 2,872 cases of the virus in Alexandria, which is an increase of 28 cases since Monday. There are 2,274 COVID-related fatalities throughout Virginia, and there are or have been 95,049 cases. It is also not clear how many city residents have recovered from the virus.
Latino residents in the city have been hardest hit with 1,482 reported cases, followed by white residents with 531 cases and Black residents with 524 cases.
Age and Sex Breakdown
There are or have been 1,481 women (with 33 deaths) and 1,383 men (with 27 deaths) in Alexandria with the virus.
- 80+ — 27 deaths, 97 cases
- 70-79 — 18 deaths, 108 cases
- 60-69 — Three deaths, 232 cases
- 50-59 — 11 deaths, 359 cases
- 40-49 — Zero deaths, 530 cases
- 30-39 — Zero deaths, 663 cases
- 20-29 — One death, 499 cases
- 10-19 — Zero deaths, 211 cases
- 0-9 — Zero deaths, 162 cases
- Missing — Eight cases not listed by age
There have been 23,288 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests administered in Alexandria so far, and the city’s seven-day positivity rate shows a 5.4% infection rate of those tested. There have also been 3,550 antibody tests in Alexandria.
Cases By ZIP Code
The areas of the city with the leading number of cases are the 22304, 22305 and 22312 ZIP codes, which include the West End and Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods.
Some of the areas share jurisdictions between Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax Counties:
- 22301 — 98 cases, 1,760 people tested (Estimated population 15,171)
- 22302 — 285 cases, 3,592 people tested (Estimated population 20,238)
- 22304 — 851 cases, 7,098 people tested (Estimated population 54,003)
- 22305 — 656 cases, 3,239 people tested (Estimated population 16,095)
- 22311 — 547 cases, 3,462 people tested (Estimated population 16,898)
- 22312 — 734 cases, 4,245 people tested (Estimated population 6,901)
- 22314 — 265 cases, 4,142 people tested (Estimated population 47,826)
Staff photo by James Cullum
Despite the pandemic, Inova Blood Donor Services says participation in blood drives has remained high in the region. Inova expects that need to go up soon as more people begin to leave their homes.
On Thursday, July 30, the Inova Blood Donor Services’ Bloodmobile will be set up at Inova Alexandria Hospital’s paid visitor’s lot from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. to keep up the services’ fresh supply of blood.
“Surprisingly, since COVID, we’ve had some great donor response,” said Heather Wade, donor recruitment manager for Inova Blood Donor Services. “When the surgeon general, back in late March or early April that it is safe to go donate, he meant it and those donors came out. They came to keep blood supply health.”
Wade said once elective surgeries started again in May, however, there was a small decline in blood donor participation.
“We’ve been able to provide for every patient in the D.C. metro region, but we really need to get back to seeing 200 donors a day,” Wade said. “Now we’re seeing 150 to 170, so we do have some concerns.”
Blood donation at the Bloodmobile is something of a mixed bag, Wade said. While the vehicle doesn’t allow for six feet of social distancing, Wade said that the staff take appropriate precautions.
“We’ve put in a lot of safety precautions, some we were already doing but more frequently,” Wade said. “We ask all donors to wear a mask and we’re in masks. We space appointments out so we don’t have 12-15 people on a bus. We have five staff on a bus and two donors every 15 minutes. We ask people to keep their appointment time and if they can’t, to let us know. We disinfect every donor bed after each donor and before each donor.”
Wade asked that anyone who makes an appointment to donate has their IDs ready.
In late August, Wade said Inova Blood Donor Services is also planning to go to Lost Boy Cider (317 Hooffs Run Drive) with two busses after the first trip had a great turnout.
Photo via Inova Blood Donor Services/Facebook
Alexandria wants community input on the latest plans regarding the proposed Oakville Triangle redevelopment, and another Zoom meeting is planned early next month.
Inova Alexandria Hospital plans to accommodate development at National Landing and Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus by expanding it services with a new HealthPlex in the city’s Oakville Triangle neighborhood.
The proposed facility will offer emergency room services, an outpatient care center and medical offices. Construction is expected begin next year, and the facility is slated to open at the corner of Fannon Street and Richmond Highway in the fall of 2023.
The city also wants feedback on a new .75 acre public park that will be built adjacent to Mount Jefferson Park before the entire plan goes before the Planning Commission this fall.
“Meeting topics include an update to the preliminary traffic analysis, a summary of community feedback from the Open Space survey, and conceptual renderings of the building and site design,” according to the city.
The Zoom meeting will be held August 4 at 6 p.m.
Map via Google Maps
It was a busy week in Alexandria, and there is plenty to talk about.
The city is moving forward with phase three of reopening its economy on July 1, and the news comes as the death toll from the coronavirus moved up to 50 and the number of cases steadily rise.
It also looks like the upcoming Alexandria City Public School school year and city services will continue to be impacted until the virus is held at bay, and school and city staff are developing plans to stagger teleworking and in-person schedules for students and staff alike.
Restaurants are reopening like never before, which is to say that customers are cautiously welcomed as Health Department restrictions are slowly lifted and many establishments have expanded their outdoor seating.
Here are the top 11 most-read articles this week in Alexandria.
- Del Ray Pizza Restaurant Converts Parking Deck Into Tropical Oasis Themed Bar
- COVID-19 Cases Steadily Increase as Alexandria Releases Phase Three Reopening Guidelines
- Large Residential Development in Braddock Goes to Planning Commission Tomorrow
- Alexandria Now Has 50 COVID-19 Deaths, Cases Climbing by Double Digits Daily
- East Eisenhower Avenue Project Returns With A New Senior Living Component
- Students Likely to Rotate School Attendance When ACPS Reopens
- Alexandria Preps for Phase 3 Reopening on July 1
- Lights On: Two Nineteen Restaurant Reopening Today in Old Town
- Developers Take Another Crack at Converting North Old Town Office to Housing
- Housing Affordability and Cost of Living Get Low Rating in Community Livability Report
- Inova Alexandria Hospital Now Treating 20+ Coronavirus Patients
Feel free to discuss these or other topics in the comments. Have a safe weekend!
Staff photo by James Cullum
The number of coronavirus patients being treated at Inova Alexandria Hospital is now in the 20s — a far cry from the more than 90 patients at the facility during the peak of the virus.
Still, that doesn’t mean residents should throw caution into the wind, hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal told ALXnow.
“We are in the new normal right so like you said, visitation is not back to normal but in terms of the provision of medical services, we really are striving to be up and running and fully functional,” Bansal said. “I am encouraging people to not be scared of going back to the doctors or to their clinics or to the hospital, and not putting off things that need to be taken care of, because they’re fearful of COVID.”
The Inova Health Care system is now offering free telemedicine and screening through its Inova Cares Clinic for Families at 4700 King Street.
There are now 2,186 cases and 48 fatalities due to COVID-19 in Alexandria, and while the number of cases continues to increase, the spread of the virus has slowed dramatically over the course of the last month, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
“Now that Northern Virginia is in Phase Two of the Forward Virginia blueprint, it is important to note that there is still community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 and everyone is safest at home,” to city said in a news release. “This is especially true for persons at higher risk for severe illness, including those over the age of 65 and those with underlying medical conditions.”
Bansal advised that residents should continue washing their hands, socially distancing and wearing face masks.
“I don’t think that message is going to change until there’s a vaccine out there,” she said.
Staff photo by James Cullum
Beyer Lauds Supreme Court LGBT Decision — “This is such a big step forward. Employers shouldn’t be able to fire people because of who they are or who they love. After a long and difficult struggle by activists and civil rights organization, an historic decision and a great moment for the country.” [Twitter]
Former Mayor Silberberg Marched in D.C. on Saturday — “All around me, there were poignant reminders of all that had transpired in this location in recent days and weeks — handmade signs attached to the remaining fence and bouquets of flowers. And then that evening, there was breaking news about another tragedy, this time in Atlanta. Heartbreaking.” [Facebook]
Twig Junior Auxiliary Donates $100K to Inova Alexandria Hospital — “The Twig Junior Auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital presented a check for $100,000 to Dr. Rina Bansal for the Inova COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Fund during a May 22 ceremony held outside the hospital’s entrance.” [Gazette]
Feed The Fight ALX Gives Out 5K Meals to Health Care Workers — “Thank you for your continued support, and please continue to follow us in the coming months on Instagram @FeedtheFightALX. We are so grateful to all of our hospital teams and restaurant partners.” [Facebook]
City Recycles 700 Tons of Glass in First Year of Recycling Program — “The City just hit the 1-year mark for the glass recycling program. In that time, 700 tons of glass (1,410,560 lbs) has been recycled through the purple can glass drop-off program. You crushed it Alexandria!” [Facebook]
‘Mind The Mat’ Owner Gets Creative During Pandemic — “I was trying to be this super-serious fitness instructor on camera, and it was not working.” [Washington Post]
Recreation Centers Opening With Modified Schedule June 20 — “These changes are in place to follow the second phase of reopening. Senior-only hours will be introduced to help protect vulnerable persons on the community while providing an opportunity for exercise.” [Zebra]
Scholarship Fund Honoring Awardees With Individualized Social Media Posts — “We’ll be profiling a student each day this week…as they share their joy and gratitude with the Alexandria Community!” [Facebook]
Center for Alexandria’s Children Receives Face Mask Donation — “We received another donation of 100 adult masks and 100 children’s masks for our Learn & PlayGroup families! We are so grateful to Brooksie & Cas and Jenna Adams for investing so much time and energy into making so many great masks.” [Facebook]
Deal: Rent a Pedego Electric Bike, Get Second Rental Half Off — “Pedego Electric Bikes has the perfect solution for cabin fever. Rent one bike and get the second rental 50% off. Enjoy the outdoors, flowers and sunshine with the safest bikes and equipment from Pedego. This offer will be available until further notice.” [Visit Alexandria]
New Job: HR/Office Manager — “Small but busy security company in need of an experienced HR professional who can really multitask. Candidate should be comfortable screening, interviewing and on-boarding applicants.” [Indeed]
Assisting pregnant mothers, raising money for unemployed workers and buying meals for hungry residents are just a few of the causes Alexandrians are tackling through a number of GoFundMe campaigns.
The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of need throughout the city, and a number of individuals, businesses and nonprofits have raised tens of thousands of dollars with local fundraisers.
Here is a list of Alexandria-based GoFundMe campaigns and amounts raised:
Neighborhood Restaurant Group Family Fund — “Whether you are in for penny or a pound, just know that every bit counts, and that we would not be asking were the situation anything but dire. Our employees are the lifeblood of this company and form the backbone of this amazing industry; they are the core of our communities and the heart of our restaurant family.” (Raised $47,218 out of $150,000 goal)
Helping Alexandria’s Restaurants & Medical Workers — “We’ve set up a go-fund me page where people can donate any amount of money they feel comfortable with towards the cost of meals for front line hospital workers at Inova Alexandria Hospital.
Each week of the “stay at home” order, we will be delivering individually pre-packaged meals to Alexandria Hospital.” (Raised $21,225 of $25,000 goal)
Ramparts Tavern Employee Support Fund — “Every contribution counts – no matter how small – it will make a profound impact in the lives of our outstanding staff. Your continued support during this difficult time means more to us than you will ever know.” (Raised $18,554 out of $30,000 goal)
Support Studio Body Logic Pilates COVID-19 Relief — “We are asking your financial help to get us though this difficult and unprecedented time. It is the only way we will be able to return to normal operations once this virus has been contained.” (Raised $11,385 out of $15,000 goal)
ARP Fundraiser for Carpenter’s Shelter — “During this uncertain time, ARP will continue our partnership supporting Carpenter’s Shelter to deliver meals to those in need.” (Raised $10,900 of $10,000 goal)
Financial Assistance for HGR Employees — ” If you have the financial means to donate, every dollar helps! If you do not, another way you can help is to share this fundraiser on social media!” (Raised $10,733 of $50,000 goal)
Buying Car Seats For Mothers in Need — “Alexandria Department of Health typically provides FREE car seats to those moms who would otherwise struggle to afford them. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not been able to provide this service.” (Raised $7,771 out of $7,500 goal)
Murphy’s Patriots Help Murphy’s STAFF — “Murphy’s staff members are our friends and neighbors. They have given us a home base for over two decades now, supporting us and our following through thick and thin. Now it is our turn to help them through this period of forced unemployment.” (Raised $6,000 of $2,500 goal)
Free Family Meals for Hospitality Workers — “Each day, we will provide different and delicious family meals FOR FREE to hospitality workers in our community who have been financially impacted by industry cut-backs. Our generous vendor partners are donating food and Cheesetique is providing facilities and staff to make this happen.” (Raised $5,970 of $2,000 goal)
M. E. Swings Coffee Barista Virtual Tip Jar — “This Virtual Tip Jar has been created as a way to support our staff who are not working and lost a significant portion of their income. We appreciate your donation if you are able to do so, it will be split equally between our staff that who are not working due to our stores being closed.” (Raised $4,040 of $4,000 goal)
Hot Meals From SOME (So Others Might Eat) — “Every $8 you donate will purchase a Hot Nepalese meal for a single adult or a few meals for families in need who are on their own during this period of social distancing. Royal Nepal, a top rated Nepalese restaurant in Alexandria, VA has worked with us to create a wholesome and delicious meal including servings of chicken, lentils, vegetables, and rice.” (Raised $3,143 of $5,000 goal)
Please Support Bow Wow Meow’s Dog-Walkers! — “COVID-19 has shut down our small business almost completely! We have no income but lots of time to rest up from our normal 10,000+ step days. :)” (Raised $2,780 of $3,000 goal)
Photo via Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub/Facebook
Inova Alexandria Hospital is seeing about half of its usual flow of emergency room patients, and hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal says patients are staying away due to fears of being infected with coronavirus.
“We’ve seen a significant decline in number of patients coming in for heart attacks, we’ve seen a significant decline in number of patients coming in for strokes, and these are not disease processes that have magically just vanished because we have COVID,” Bansal said in a teleconference hosted by ACT for Alexandria. “I think it’s because people are actually suffering at home.”
Bansal said that overall emergency room volumes have decreased by about 50% and that there are now about 40 patients per day who are being treated at the hospital, versus 90 patients a day during March and April.
“I think people are afraid to come to a hospital because they have this vision of people here who have COVID and that they’re going to get ill,” she said. “On a normal day we will see about 200 patients in our emergency rooms. We’re (now) seeing somewhere down to 90 to 100.”
May was also National Stroke Month, and last week Inova Alexandria Hospital put out a series of social media messages reminding people the symptoms of a stroke. The hospital has also continued elective surgeries, although visitation is still limited.
“We are making sure that we keep anyone who’s coming into our hospital safe with or without COVID,” Bansal said, adding that the hospital has seen a 40% reduction in revenue. “Some of the numbers are just astounding. It’s even hard to process how much money you can lose on a daily basis in a hospital setting while providing care during a crisis. It almost doesn’t make sense, but that is the reality. We did open up our operating rooms a couple of weeks ago so we are starting to see some patients come back.”
In honor of National Stroke Month, we are sharing information every day this week from our Inova Neuroscience and Spine…
Meanwhile, Alexandria hit a grim milestone today with the announcement that there have been 2,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the first case was announced on March 11. There are 45 reported fatalities due to the virus in the city.
Neighborhood Health Executive Director Dr. Basim Khan joined Bansal, and said that the assumption that the virus is gone is false. The nonprofit has provided about 2,000 tests, and about half came back positive. Additionally, about 90% of those who tested positive are low income Hispanic city residents, a demographic which leads the city with six deaths, 992 cases and 86 total hospitalizations.
“There’s the assumption that the first wave is finished, but the reality is it’s still here, it’s still going strong,” Khan said. there are still a lot of infections, people are still getting impacted, but at the same time I do understand that we do need to reopen (the local economy) to some degree.”
Bansal said she’s worried that Alexandria is opening back up, and cautioned residents to be mindful of social distancing, wash hands and wear face masks in public.
#HappeningNow: We’re discussing health with Dr. Rina Bansal of Inova Alexandria Hospital and Dr. Basim Khan of Neighborhood Healh in the third of five ACT Now Tuesday Talks!At 12:00 p.m. ET on June 2, June 16 and June 30, we’re talking to beneficiaries of the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund and partners addressing pressing issues in our community.
Posted by ACT for Alexandria on Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Staff photo by James Cullum