Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Group to Sue City for Pollution Near Recycling Center — “After a 7 On Your Side Investigation aired about the amount of Styrofoam piling up along the banks of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, organizers with Advocates for Clean & Clear Waterways, a new non-profit, has informed the City it plans on suing.” [WJLA]

DASH Bus Requiring All Riders to Wear Face Masks — “Based on guidance from the Alexandria Health Department, the Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) will require all passengers to wear face coverings while using DASH buses beginning Monday, May 18, 2020. The measure will help protect DASH employees and passengers from contracting the COVID-19 virus and is consistent with the actions of the agency’s regional transit partners, including WMATA, Frederick Transit, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Transit. This precaution will remain in effect until further notice.” [DASH]

Fire Department Responds to Eisenhower Avenue Commercial Fire — “Around 3 pm, units from AFD & @ffxfirerescue responded to a commercial bldg fire in the 5600 block of Eisenhower Ave. Units found fire in UPS trailer & outside storage area and extinguished. No damage to bldg itself. No civilian or firefighter injuries. Cause under investigation.” [Facebook]

Congressman Beyer Calls Federal Coronavirus Response a ‘Disaster’ — “Over 87,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. South Korea, with a population of over 50 million, had their first case on the same day the United States did. The COVID-19 death toll in South Korea stands at 262. The federal response in this country has been a disaster.” [Twitter]

Video: Old Town Jumping on Friday Night — “Looks like @AlexandriaVAGov is open for business…” [Twitter]

Crowded Sidewalks in Old Town Saturday Night — “Crowded sidewalks in Old Town, Alexandria causing concerns tonight two weeks before Northern Virginia is set to reopen.” [Twitter]

Family Celebrate 80th Birthday at Goodwin House — “Sandy Connolly celebrated her 80th birthday at Goodwin House Alexandria with a socially distant visit from family members. Connolly and her husband Jim were able to view the May 7 celebration through a window as children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren held signs and left gifts in honor of the occasion.” [Gazette]

T.C. Williams High School Violinist Wins National Merit Scholarship — “Kudos to Chamber Orchestra violinist Leah Nickelsburg, who is the only TC Williams student to be awarded a National Merit Scholarship of $2,500 in this week’s announcement by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation! She was one of 68 recipients statewide who were judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.” [Facebook]

Kindergarten Registration Begins on Wednesday — “Due to the Governor’s stay-at-home order, 2020-21 kindergarten registration will take place completely online. All registration steps, including the enrollment form and providing documentation, must be completed for a child to be able to start school.” [ACPS]

Old Town Businesses Giving Portion of Proceeds to Nonprofits — “Alexandria’s stores and restaurants will give a percentage of their sales to the charities of the customers’ choice. For every lunch or dinner ordered OR purchase made, we will share those profits with clientele’s charity of choice located on the Spring2ACTion website.” [Facebook]

Fire Department Recognizes EMS Week — “Our EMS personnel are facing challenges every day, especially during a pandemic. Their compassion is admirable and their dedication to the profession and community is appreciated. Thank you for all that you do. Happy #EMSWeek. Stay safe and healthy Alexandria!” [Facebook]

Yates Dry Cleaning Donates Cloth Face Masks to Neighborhood Health — “The masks will be distributed to patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus and to their families. Need a mask? Yates has them for sale in both adult and child sizes.” [Facebook]

Kiskadee Starts Spring Sale by Appointment Only — “Kiskadee’s Spring Sale is happening now! Click below to sign up for a private shopping appointment.” [Facebook]

Video: Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub Opens Mini-Market — “Here is a little clip of our Market.” [Facebook]

New Jobs: Alexandria Health Department is Hiring — “The Alexandria Health Department (a division of VDH) is seeking candidates for Communications Officer, Senior Epidemiologist, and two Public Health Nurse positions in the areas of Sexual Reproductive Health and Tuberculosis/Newcomer Health.” [City of Alexandria]

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Morning Notes

Inova Hospital System Needs Blood Donations — “Starting this week, over 1,400 blood donors will be needed each week to make lifesaving donations. One blood donation can save up to three lives! Schedule your lifesaving donation with Inova Blood Donor Services online at www.inovabloodsaves.org or call 1-866-BLOODSAVES.” [Facebook]

Video: Alexandria Firefighters Thank Health Care Workers — “Station 203 members made a quick stop at Envoy of Alexandria today to thank healthcare workers.” [Facebook]

VDOT Asks Drivers to Slow Down on Interstate — “While many #stayhome and #socialdistance, there are fewer cars on our roads. That doesn’t mean safety goes out the window, though. PLEASE comply with posted speed limits. Let’s help keep each other safe #NoNeedForSpeed #SlowDown” [Twitter]

Rep. Beyer Defends Dr. Fauci Amid COVID-19 Criticism — “People in positions of power and influence trying to capitalize commercially and politically on treating Dr. Fauci like some kind of national villain as he literally works to save their lives is not a proud moment for this country.” [Twitter]

City Continues Series on Teleworking ‘Innovation’ By Citing 911 Operators — “After a successful one-month pilot, Alexandria became the first city in the United States to enable some staff to answer 911 calls from home. Rather than relying on employees’ home phone or internet connections, this remote setup uses wireless hotspots connected to a dedicated national public safety network called FirstNet. Regardless of the location, staff comply with the same strict confidentiality and quality assurance standards, and have access to the same computer-aided dispatch system that helps route public safety resources.” [City of Alexandria]

New Sheriff’s Deputy Sworn In at Alexandria Courthouse — “Congratulations and welcome to Deputy Fidelis Asonglefac who was sworn in yesterday! Deputy Asonglefac received his badge and Clerk of Circuit Court Greg Parks administered the oath of office at the courthouse.” [Facebook]

New Italian Restaurant Planned for Del Ray This Summer — “Piece Out LLC, which operates Café Pizzaiolo, St. Elmo’s and Markt2Market, is working on opening a from-scratch Italian restaurant at 2419 Mount Vernon Ave. The restaurant will initially focus on carry-out dining with plans to grow into a sit-down restaurant as the region starts to recover from the coronavirus crisis, according to owner Larry Ponzi. The restaurant will include pizza, house-made pasta and more. The company is very early in the planning process, Ponzi said, but he hopes to open the new Italian restaurant by mid-summer.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Animal Hospital Now Open For All Appointments — “Whoop! We are excited to announce that we are now able to accept all appointment types. We will continue our curbside service and safety protocols to ensure the safety of our staff and clients. We’ll greet you outside and keep you informed during your pet’s visit. With safety in mind, we will continue to limit hospital traffic to associates only.” [Facebook]

Mount Vernon Community School Teacher Launches Youtube Channel — “Did you know that Mount Vernon Community School has many amazing dual language teachers? One of their music teachers, Mrs. Quesada-Sayler. has started a YouTube channel to provide more music lessons in Spanish and English. Check these out. They are awesome!” [Facebook]

Lee Fendall House Celebrates Museum Week — “Much has been said about the historic times we are living through now. Are you doing something to document them in your own way? Perhaps you are keeping a journal, taking pictures, or saving certain mementoes of life in quarantine?” [Facebook]

Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Center To Reopen Saturdays — “The City of Alexandria will reopen the Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Center for one day a week starting on Saturday, May 16. The limited opening is intended for residents who cannot store materials at home indefinitely for reasons such as moving. Others are encouraged to store materials until normal operations resume.” [Patch]

New Job: Administrative Specialist for Salvation Army National HQ — “Bachelors degree and at least two years’ of experience required. Knowledge of general office practices and procedures, effective and efficient record-keeping and bookkeeping practices, knowledge of proofreading symbols and basic mathematics. Ability to transcribe dictation and type information into a computer. Ability to scan documents and work with same. Ability to operate various office equipment including a telephone, Dictaphone, computer, scanner and adding machine.” [Indeed]

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Despite the pandemic, significant progress is being made on the new fire station in the Beverley Hills neighborhood.

Fire Station 203 is in the third of four phases of development, according to Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford, with the first floor walls being constructed.

“Phase 1 was the construction of a temporary station, and in Phase 2, fire personnel were moved out of the existing station into the temporary station and the old fire station was demolished,” Blackford said. “Phase 3 is the construction of the new station and landscaping; and under Phase 4, personnel will move into the new station, the temporary station will be demolished, and City streets affected by the construction will be repaired.”

Construction on the project started spring 2019. Blackford said there were delays initially because of difficulties in construction of the temporary fire station, then poor weather hampered construction further. Blackford said the weather has improved and construction is proceeding on schedule.

“Currently, the base foundation is now completed, the concrete floors for the living spaces have been finished,” Blackford said. “The apparatus floor is next to be poured, and the first floor walls are now being constructed. A Fire Station 203 construction livecam is available for viewing progress on the project.”

The station was initially scheduled to open later this year, but Blackford said the project is targeted to be completely finished — including temporary station demolition and street repair — in spring 2021.

Image via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

ACPS Nurses Helping Out Health Department — “When Megan Costanza, a nurse at the T.C. Williams High School Clinic got the call to say her skills were needed by the Alexandria Health Department’s Coronavirus task force, she didn’t hesitate.” [ACPS]

Carpenter’s Shelter Raising Funds for Giving Tuesday — “#GivingTuesdayNow and Do More 24 have synched efforts to help organizations like Carpenter’s Shelter raise money during this unprecedented time. Advanced giving is open, so please support Carpenter’s Shelter by donating!” [Facebook]

Second Grader Wins National Photography Award for Merit — “The National PTA announced the results of the national level of the Reflections contest last week, and Riley Zwiselsberger, a 2nd grader at Charles Barrett, for the second year in a row, won the Award of Merit (a 3rd Place NATIONAL award!!) in the Photography category for a photo called “Within the Wall of War.” His work will now be featured in a traveling exhibition!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Aces Season Canceled — “We cherish the health and safety of all of our players and their families. We 🙏🏻 this all goes away and we see everyone in 2021 for a great season of Aces Baseball! Stay safe Aces.” [Facebook]

The Dog Park Offering Discounts for Cinco De Doggo Toys — “The Dog Park will be offering a SPICY deal for Cinco de Mayo….aka Cinco de Doggo! We carry toys for both cats and dogs.” [Facebook]

ACPS Brings Back Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program — “Kids 18 and under, who are present during pick-up, will receive a fresh produce bag along with their meals! While supplies last.” [Facebook]

The Art League is Offering Online Classes — “Our online courses give people a chance to try something new at home, and allows students to touch base with their creative community during an isolating time.” [Zebra]

Jobs: The Salvation Army Needs Administrative Specialist — “Knowledge of general office practices and procedures, effective and efficient record-keeping and bookkeeping practices, knowledge of proofreading symbols and basic mathematics. Ability to transcribe dictation and type information into a computer. Ability to scan documents and work with same. Ability to operate various office equipment including a telephone, Dictaphone, computer, scanner and adding machine.” [Indeed]

Fire Department Celebrates Resilience Week — “Building resilience helps our community recover from difficult experiences, like the current health crisis. As part of #ResilienceWeek VA (May 3-9), DCHS is sharing daily ideas & resources to help in our personal lives, families, work lives & community.” [Twitter]

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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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More than 100 law enforcement officials and first responders showed their appreciation Inova Alexandria Hospital staff on Tuesday. Hospital doctors and nurses were applauded by Virginia State Police, Alexandria Police and Fire department officials holding signs, which thanked them and called them heroes.

“This is amazing, because there’s a war zone that we face every day,” nurse Keylin Mejia told ALXnow.

Hospital staff are routinely working more than 12-hour shifts, as hundreds of people have been treated in the hospital over the course of the last several weeks.

“We’ll get here around 6:30 a.m. and don’t leave until 9 p.m. on a good day,” nurse Chamika Battle told ALXnow. “It really is dangerous, and I really need people to understand that they really do need to stay home. Even if they don’t have it, they can still get it by someone else they don’t even know who sneezes or coughs nearby.”

Posted by Corey Smedley on Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Alexandria Fire Chief Corey Smedley was also there with a number of fire engines and staff.

“Today is, is a simple gesture of thanks to all the responders out there that are working in the front lines,” he said. “What you have out here is my department, emergency medical services, sheriff’s office, police, and, of course, our doctors and nurses. And we’re just here to say thank you.”

Inova Alexandria Hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal had a hard time expressing her feelings after walking outside.

“This is just tremendous. I don’t think it’s a feeling you can describe,” she said. “It’s inspiring. It’s amazing. Just know that we are continuing to move forward and take care of our patients and our community and my teams are working hard, but we are privileged to serve our community.”

We are incredibly grateful to all of the first responders that came to thank our #InovaHeroes last night! #HeroesThankingHeroes #EMSstrong #AlexandriaVA

Posted by Inova Alexandria Hospital on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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Morning Notes

Hard Times Café Founder Passes Away — “Sad news. @HardTimesFun founder Fred Parker passed away last night. He was a very special friend and an icon in #AlexandriaVA. Thank you Fred for so many memories. You will never be forgotten #RIP” [Twitter]

Birchmere Joins Group to Lobby Congress for Coronavirus Relief — “With large gatherings forbidden throughout the country, the live music industry has ground to a halt, closing revenue streams and putting things like rent and payroll payments in jeopardy. More than 450 venues across the U.S. are banding together under the new group called the National Independent Venue Association to present one voice to lawmakers.”  [Washington Business Journal]

Potomac Coffee Donates to Carpenter’s Shelter — “Thank you, Potomac Coffee, for your incredibly generous donation of 200lbs of VERY aromatic coffee! As one of the many local businesses hard hit by the pandemic, we appreciate your giving spirit during these tough times!” [Facebook]

Presbyterian Cemetery Closes — “Thank you all for your comments. The cemetery tried to keep open after the city closed all parks and dog parks, but we were completely overwhelmed. Over the past four weeks we had people driving in from DC, MD and other parts of Virginia to exercise their dogs. Not only were we overrun, but people were not following the rules, were belligerent and at times threatening to staff. That and numerous other issues gave us no choice except to lock the gates and keep everyone out. Since this is the first time in years we are closed, the cemetery will tackle some much needed maintenance issues and needed enhancements and hope to open again once the COVID-19 crisis passes. We hope everyone understands and know that we appreciate your support.” [Facebook]

‘The Old Town Shop’ is Selling Disposable Face Masks — “The Old Town Shop carries DISPOSABLE FACE MASKS: 2 masks to a pack, and $5 per pack. The BFE 95 triple layer protective masks have a waterproof outer layer and a breathable inner layer. The 3D tensile design fully fits an adult face. Material is non-woven fabric with a flexible plastic nose bridge and elastic ear covers.” [squaremktg.com]

Video: Alexandria Firefighter Recruits Train in Smokehouse — “A pandemic doesn’t stop other emergencies from happening. The AFD Training Division continues to prepare our new members to respond to the call.” [Facebook]

Sheriff’s Office Talks With ACPS Third Graders — “With Alexandria City Public Schools closed, we’re finding new ways to stay connected with students. Today [April 24] Lieutenant Sean Casey and Deputy Morgan Garner joined Mr. Holland’s third graders for their lunch bunch via Zoom. They discussed online safety and did a fun demonstration showing the importance of proper hand washing.” [Facebook]

Riverside Gardens Families Play Dress-up — “It became something to look forward to. We’d all wonder, what will the Ferrys do tonight? For five nights we had ‘must-see Facebook!'” [Zebra]

Alexandrians Pitch ‘Burro’ Gardening Tools on Shark Tank — “Mollie Thorsen and her father, Bob, have come a long way with their innovative gardening tool, the original Little Burro.” [Alexandria Living]

City Sets Up Yard Waste Collection Site on Eisenhower Avenue — “The new facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. You must show an ID with a City of Alexandria address.” [Alexandria Living]

Today is a Teacher Work Day for ACPS — “REMINDER: Monday, April 27 is a Teacher Work Day. Enjoy your weekend!” [Facebook]

Carol and Ryan Bailey Named Alexandria Living Legends — “Carol says she has spent her life paving the way for Ryan. She and her family still live in the house her grandfather bought in Del Ray in 1900. It has a historical marker on the front column and a sign in the front yard that says, ‘Spread Kindness, Build Community.'” [Gazette]

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Two women in kayaks were rescued from the Potomac River on Saturday by the Alexandria Fire Department’s Fire Boat 201, in addition to responders from U.S. Park Police and the Washington D.C. Harbor Patrol.

The incident occurred a little after 2 p.m. on Saturday. It was about 60 degrees that day with 20 mile-per-hour winds, and the young women were having trouble getting their kayaks upright, according to AFD.

“They were both wearing life jackets and first responders were able to rescue them before they experienced serious distress in the water,” AFD spokeswoman Raytevia Evans told ALXnow. “Paramedics evaluated both patients to ensure they weren’t showing symptoms of hypothermia or other medical issues caused by the incidents. They were cleared by the paramedics and opted not to be transported to the hospital.”

Two weeks ago, the body of a District man was found floating in the Potomac downriver near Founders Park.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Alexandria’s Emergency Operations Center is fully operational through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s nearly empty.

Ray Whatley, the city’s acting emergency manager, is operating the EOC with a skeleton crew of four full-time staff in the Public Safety Building at 2003 Mill Road. The EOC remains pivotal during the city’s first bonafide emergency since the facility opened last year.

“I’ve got a team of folks helping to coordinate and communicate with all the city agencies,” Whatley said. “We help join the entire city, through the various leaders of the departments to help make it run. We do our best to effectively communicate and collaborate and bring consensus to everybody so that way, we are all on the same page.”

Alexandria’s 911 operators are currently working from the city’s main dispatch center at Police Department headquarters, a backup center located at the EOC, and at home.

“Some people are at home taking calls and we’ve never done that before. It’s way out of the box,” said Marietta Robinson, the Department of Emergency and Customer Communications representative in the EOC. “Some are downstairs in our backup center. Some are completely locked down in the main center, like they just live there. They’re not going home. They’re taking their showers there, they’ve got a washer and dryer. They’re just living there for two weeks.”

There has been one COVID-19-related death in Alexandria, and there are currently 149 cases in the city.

In a normal emergency, such as a hurricane, the EOC would be completely full of more than 50 essential staff from various departments across the city working up to 12 hours a day — divided up by color-coded chairs. The state-of-the-art facility includes large flat-screen TVs with the latest COVID-19 figures in Virginia, the U.S. and around the world. In order to get into the EOC, an ALXnow reporter had his temperature checked when he got to the building (it was 98.2 degrees), and was asked if he had been on international travel, had a sore throat or shortness of breath.

Now, however, Whatley oversees a daily 10 a.m. conference call with more than 100 city leaders and staff, including representatives from the city manager’s office, the health department, the Department of Community and Human Services and the fire department.

“We’ve also worked with our judicial partners in lowering the jail population,” Whatley said. “We’ve been helping with traffic control and safety, and security at different food distribution points.”

The city has about 1,200 full time employees from all departments working in various capacities throughout the crisis, Whatley said. He is also awaiting a shipment of personal protective equipment from the Virginia Department of Health, and said that the city is managing its stockpile and has been approved by the city manager to buy more if necessary.

The EOC was activated in mid-March, before the city made its emergency declaration. The facility remains functional, but highly unused due to the risk of contagion, which has an effect on the timeliness of work being done. At the same time, since employees are working in silos, work is being carried out with limited distractions from other tasks, Whatley said.

“We’re so used to being able to walk over tap somebody on the shoulder and get something done,” Whatley said. “Now it’s send an email, leave a message, wait, they call you back, then you have that discussion. So, there’s that uncomfortable pause, and that can be a couple minutes to a couple hours. Now, if it’s an urgent matter, of course, we’ll get in touch with somebody.”

Still, he added, “Because of the whole social distancing piece, people are apart… They actually have the ability to concentrate a little bit more on what they’re doing.”

Whatley has worked as a paramedic and EMS supervisor in the city since 1991, and was promoted to the acting position last month. He previously served nearly four years as the assistant emergency manager under Fire Chief Corey Smedley, who was the city’s Homeland Security and Emergency Manager before being promoted to his current post.

Whatley likened the role of the EOC as the center of a bicycle wheel holding holds together the spokes of a tire, which is the city government.

“This is truly unprecedented territory,” he said. “It really is predicated on a couple things — facilities shutting down, people limiting their exposure, people staying home and maintaining that social distance. As long as we continue to do those things we have a better chance to flatten that curve so that we’re not getting more and more cases spiking.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that the Alexandria Fire Department does business.

While there are currently no AFD personnel who have exhibited symptoms, the department is responding to an uptick in COVID-19-related emergency calls.

“We’re definitely seeing more calls for fever and body aches, but it hasn’t been an exponential increase,” Deputy Fire Chief Brian Hricik told ALXnow. “It’s been four or five, maybe even six calls a day where it’s flu like symptoms is what we’re looking for — the cough, body aches, fevers, those types of things. We might go to a residence for somebody that’s having a heart attack, and if the family member that’s sitting right next to them is coughing and sneezing, and within six feet of us, then we need to be prepared to protect ourselves.”

Hricik is the deputy planning section chief for the city’s Emergency Operations Center, and coordinates response efforts for the fire department, the Alexandria Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office.

Fire Chief Corey Smedley says Hricik is the man for the job.

“One of my first decisions as Fire Chief was to promote Deputy Chief Hricik,” Smedley told ALXnow. “He has been with the department for 23 years and continues to show great leadership and knowledge. He has been leading our efforts to ensure the safety of our members and our community throughout this pandemic. Hricik cares about AFD and the Alexandria community, so he’s the right person for the job especially during these uncertain times.”

There are currently 36 cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria.

Hricik said that first responders are wearing personal protective equipment, distancing themselves from patients and taking minimal equipment into buildings. He also said that 911 operators are screening callers to determine if they are symptomatic, and AFD staff are routinely taking their temperatures and changing clothes.

“EMS is not generally great with responding to flu-like emergencies and protecting ourselves. We’ll often run catch coughs, sneezes, sniffles on a routine basis, especially when flu season starts,” he said. “Now we’re much more purposely moving forward in a slower pace to say, okay, we’re going to send one person in and start asking questions probably at that 10-to-six-foot mark away from the patient or for family members and start asking questions about what’s happening, how we can help, what are the symptoms that they’re having and those types of things. If they have a cough or if they’ve had a fever, we’re handing them a surgical mask to put on themselves first, and then we also have on all of our gowns, gloves, goggles and masks.”

Hricik said the city’s first responders and law enforcement are now rationing personal protective equipment.

“I think right now we have a handle on what we have in stock. We’ve put some measures in place so that we’re not wasteful with it,” he said. “If we end up getting a New York-style expansion, then there’s no way we’re going to survive on what we have.”

Hricik said that the biggest challenge for the department is the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“We’re trying to plan. If we have one patient, our response looks like this, if we have 10 patients, then our response looks different,” he said. “There’s 140,000 to 150,000 people in the city of Alexandria, and if everybody ended up getting it, how do we deal with that? How do we prepare for that? If we have 40 [infected] people in the city and that’s our top number, then I’m confident we’ve got it under control. If we end up having 40,000 people in the city, and that’s our top number, that’s a completely different ballgame.”

Photo via Alexandria Fire Department/Facebook

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Morning Notes

ALIVE! Hands Out 20,000 Meals — “More than 500 cars lined up until supplies ran out. Volunteers say they’ll be back at it again, in the same place and time- next week.” [WUSA9]

Fire Department Saves Dog — “With help from Alexandria Animal Control, some of our first responders rescued a Border Collie from a vault in a pond on Seminary Rd. today after the dog decided to have a little fun with some geese. The pup sustained minor injuries & was transported to a vet by the owner.” [Facebook]

Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Thanks Sponsors — “Although our Spring Gala was canceled because of COVID-19, and despite school closures and a public health crisis…COLLEGE is COMING for students with financial need. Thank YOU to all who help supporting scholarships and making college possible for our 2020 graduates!” [Facebook]

Neighborhood Restaurant Group Raises $41,000 for Employees — “We have been forced by circumstances well beyond our control to lay off over 90% of our staff, and while we found a way to pay everyone for one week, our resources have been stretched to the breaking point. As such, we are turning to you – our neighbors, our friends, our patrons and colleagues – to help us support our employees who have now found themselves without jobs or opportunities for income.” [GoFundMe]

Pork Barrel, Holy Cow, The Sushi Bar Offer Catered Meal Packages — “Yesterday the Charles Barrett School dropped off 60 Pork Barrel BBQ meals to the Carpenter’s Shelter! One of the students made us this amazing card – we loved teaming up with you all to help feed the community.” [Facebook]

Cheesetique Raises $3.5K to Make 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.” [GoFundMe]

Pedego Electric Bike Rentals Open in Old Town — “Loads of personal space, flowers, sunshine and the best and safest bikes and equipment.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Alexandria COVID-19 Count Now At 20 — “AHD is identifying and contacting individuals who came in close contact with the confirmed cases. The 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. As a result of the AHD’s case investigations and expanded testing through private providers, the number of positive cases is expected to continue to increase.” [City of Alexandria]

City’s COVID-19 Fund Reaches $470K — “Thanks to your generous support, ACT for Alexandria and the City of Alexandria have begun to provide grants to the nonprofit organizations on the front lines of this crisis. As of this week, we have made $245,010 in grants.” [Zebra]

Levine Hosting Health Director in Virtual Monthly Meetup — “We will be hosting Mark’s Monthly Meetup virtually this Sunday between 1 and 3 pm. Likely through either Zoom or Facebook Live. Perhaps both if we can figure it out. Details to come.” [Facebook]

Beyer Laments U.S. Leading World With COVID-19 Cases — “Very, very bad: the United States now leads the world in confirmed COVID-19 cases. PLEASE STAY HOME.” [Twitter]

Fire Department Advises Against Overloading Power Strips — “If you’re teleworking to help #stopthespread, you’re probably using multiple electronic devices to keep up with your workload. To prevent an electrical fire, don’t overload your power strips.” [Twitter]

Chat Today With Martha Washington in Mount Vernon Live Stream — “Join us for our first Casual Friday Livestream, where we’ll do something new & different each Friday at 12:00 pm ET! This week, join us for a chat with young Martha Washington in the year 1769. Ask her your questions now, and we’ll start with those tomorrow on Facebook & YouTube.” [Twitter]

fibre space Moves to Online Shopping Only — “We will not be scheduling any additional in store private shopping appointments. If you are currently scheduled, your appointment is still on. Please feel free to shop via phone, web or virtual shopping on Zoom.” [Facebook]

Carpenter’s Shelter Thanks Supporters — “One of our biggest concerns amidst all of this turmoil, has been making sure we are able to keep our residents fed. In our current temporary location we do not have a stove, so we are reliant more than ever on our wonderful volunteers and donors to provide prepared food for our clients. And thanks to them, this concern thus far has been unfounded.” [Facebook]

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