Alexandria, VA

Even as more age groups get inoculated against the coronavirus, Alexandria’s Health Department director told City Council on Tuesday that the pandemic is far from over.

For one thing, it’s estimated that variant strains of the virus with up to 45% greater transmissibility will be the primary type of the COVID-19 virus by March.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near the end of the road,” AHD Director Dr. Stephen Haering told Council. “We have a long way to go, and until we get there we need to stay focused on the mitigation strategies that we know that work, because the mitigation strategies of wearing a face mask of maintaining a six foot distance, of sanitizing hands works against the new variants.”

Within the next week, AHD will start offering vaccine appointments to residents under the age of 65 with underlying medical conditions.

The Virginia Department of Health has given out more than 1.6 million vaccines, although they have been disproportionately given to whites. VDH data shows that 562,000 vaccine doses have been given to white Virginians; less than 100,000 doses have been given to black residents; 44,000 vaccines have been given to Latinos and 38,000 doses have been given to Asian or Pacific Islanders. More than 400,000 vaccines do not have demographic data.

But with more than 30,000 city residents on the vaccination waiting list, Haering said that the problem is the number of vaccines. Additionally, this week, AHD reported that CVS Pharmacy will start registering residents ages 65 and older for COVID-19 vaccination appointments on Feb. 12. The city’s COVID-19 call center is reportedly getting upward of 400 calls per day.

“The biggest limit right now is vaccines,” Haering said.

Virginia is currently in phase 1a and 1b, and those eligible for the vaccine are:

  • Senior citizens over the age of 65
  • Frontline health care workers
  • Frontline essential workers
  • People ages 16-64 with an underlying medical condition
  • People in prisons, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps
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Alexandria’s COVID-19 deaths are now at 105, and the number of cases has reached 9,744.

That’s one more death and 623 cases since this time last week, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The latest death was a man in his 60s.

Across Virginia, there have been 6,820 deaths and there are or have been 530,825 cases of the virus. There have also been 5.4 million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 10.2%.

Vaccine Update

There are more than 36,000 city residents on the waiting list to get the vaccine.

“Alexandria receives less than 2,000 first doses a week, so vaccinating the entire eligible population will take time,” according to the city. “When there are available appointments, AHD contacts people by phone or email in the order that they pre-registered, from within the currently eligible categories.”

Currently, residents ages 65 and over and frontline essential workers are eligible. When contacted by phone, the number will likely show up as 703.746.4988 and people will be called three times; a voicemail will be left if no one answers. Emails will come from [email protected], and may end up in spam folders, so check frequently.

As of last Friday, there have been 9,764 first doses 907 second doses of the vaccine administered by the Alexandria Health Department around the city.

There have been more than 1.6 million doses of the vaccine distributed across Virginia, and 171,077 people have been fully vaccinated, according to VDH.

Demographics

There are or have been 5,063 women (with 50 deaths) and 4,624 men (with 54 deaths) in Alexandria with the virus*. The only age groups that have not experienced a death are children and teenagers.
*One death not reported

  • 80+    — 44 deaths, 247 cases
  • 70-79 — 27 deaths, 321 cases
  • 60-69 — 15 deaths, 730 cases
  • 50-59 — 14 deaths, 1,149 cases
  • 40-49 — Two deaths, 1,659 cases
  • 30-39 — Two deaths, 2,265 cases
  • 20-29 — One death, 1,953 cases
  • 10-19  — Zero deaths, 705 cases
  • 0-9     — Zero deaths, 688 cases

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Alexandria City Public Schools will reopen its doors to students on March 16, after being shut down for a little more than a year due to the coronavirus, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. told the School Board on Thursday.

“Now it’s time, and we will be returning back to our school buildings,” Hutchings said. “We are now ready. It is now time for this pivot to occur.”

The students who opted to participate (about half of students) in hybrid learning will be able to go back to school on March 16. On March 2, the school system will allow back special needs students in kindergarten – fifth grade. They will be followed by special education students in grades 6-12 on Tuesday, March 9.

The reality is that we really don’t know how long COVID is going to continue to affect our community,” said School Board Member Michelle Rief. “This is gonna be a big transition and it may it may be a little bumpy, but my hope is that we’ll work together to get through this challenge, and just remain flexible, too, because we really don’t know what the future is gonna hold.”

The news comes as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is calling on school systems across the Commonwealth to open for some form of in-person learning by March 15.

Hutchings said that coronavirus community transmission levels have been downgraded to a sufficient level by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health. The planned reopening of school has been pushed back numerous times this year due to staffing shortages and increased community transmission numbers.

“We are seeing a consistent decline in our community health measurements, which is huge,” Hutchings said. “This is a big deal. This is why we are now at the point where we are looking forward to our transition over the next six weeks.”

At T.C. Williams High School, which is the largest public high school in Virginia, Principal Peter Balas is working out how students will transition between classes. Students will be required to have their temperatures taken, socially distance and wear face masks.

“One of the things that we are carefully planning around is that transition from class to class,” Balas said. “That’s definitely still in the planning phase.”

Many parents were relieved to get the news.

“I’m excited that ACPS has gotten to the point of a firm date,” an ACPS parent told ALXnow. “After a year of uncertainty, any sort of clear forward momentum feels good. I hope they follow the data and apply this new decisive and determined approach toward an on time in person opening for the 2021-2022 school year as well.”

But some parents have caused a bit of a controversy in recent days. The Facebook Group Open ACPS! recently published information it acquired through the Freedom of Information Act on staffing levels at schools. The posts, which have been removed, included emails on ACPS classroom sizes, and included employee identification numbers that were not redacted.

Hutchings has repeatedly said that staffing resources have been strained because of the pandemic and that the school system will need to hire additional employees to accommodate in-person learning.

“It’s unfortunate that that occurred,” Hutchings said. “It was just a disruption, and was really a breach of trust, which I personally don’t take lightly at all.”

The group responded that it was not at fault when ACPS released the information.

“The board and superintendent didn’t own up that the mistake was on their side,” Open ACPS told ALXnow. “ACPS gave this information to a parent through Freedom of Information Act. ACPS failed to remove any sensitive information. Yet a parent was chastised for ACPS’ mistake.”

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Alexandria’s COVID-19 deaths are now at 104, and the number of cases has reached 9,121.

That’s three more deaths and 361 cases since this time last week, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The fatal victims were in their 60s and 70s.

Across Virginia, there have been 6,474 deaths and there are or have been 507,640 cases of the virus. There have also been 5.3 million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 11.7%.

Vaccine Update

There are more than 30,000 city residents on the waiting list to get the vaccine.

As of last Friday, there have been 8,633 first doses and 223 second doses of the vaccine administered by the Alexandria Health Department around the city. That does not include the number of vaccines given by private providers and pharmacies.

The vaccine is currently available to health care workers, seniors older than 65, and anyone ages 16-64 with preexisting conditions.

There have been more than 458,000 doses of the vaccine distributed across Virginia, and 64,381 people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

“There are more than 30,000 entries in the pre-registration waitlist, including a large pool eligible for Phase 1b who are currently working almost entirely remotely with no exposure to the public,” according to the city. “If that applies to you, consider waiting to receive your vaccine until supplies are more plentiful to ensure that those on the frontline without telework capabilities can be protected while they interact with the public.”

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The Del Ray Business Association just launched a GoFundMe campaign to support Inova Alexandria Hospital.

Hospital workers are on the front line of the pandemic in the city, and the DRBA campaign is just the latest of numerous efforts to show appreciation.

“Here’s the important thing to know — every dollar that you contribute will go directly for a meal for a local hero,” according to DRBA. “To show our gratitude and support, our community is undertaking two initaitives.  One is a letter writing campaign that will be delivered to Inova Hospital workers for Valentine’s Day and the second is a fundraiser to fund meals provided by our local Del Ray restaurants.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Contribute funds to provide a meal or meals to healthcare workers and their essential teams – every $15 purchases a meal!  Our goal is to raise $3,750 to purchase 250 meals  for the workers
  • Write a thank you letter or make a card, to be presented to workers at INOVA Alexandria Hospital on Saturday, February 6 from 8am to 12pm, or leave them in the basket on the porch at 110 E. Del Ray Avenue
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Neighborhood Health just got a $20,000 boost to improve its telemedicine capabilities from Medicaid health plan company Anthem’s HealthKeepers Plus. The donation will allow the nonprofit to buy laptops and tech accessories.

Neighborhood Health, which has provided free COVID-19 tests and other medical services for more than 40,000 patients throughout Alexandria during the pandemic, mostly provides care for low income residents.

“The additional equipment allows our teams to further reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both our staff and our patients by offering more virtual visits from home instead of the office,” said Eduardo Mantilla-Torres, Outreach & Enrollment Manager for Neighborhood Health. “This will help lower the number of staff needed on-site and the number of people in the office in general, allowing for a safer distribution of services.”

With telemedicine being the new normal, Anthem’s Thomas Rayner, director of marketing and member engagement, said that the company is “happy to support efforts that provide better healthcare access for Virginia’s low-income residents.”

Photo via Anthem

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Alexandria’s COVID-19 deaths are now at 101, and the number of cases has reached 9,121.

That’s five more deaths and 311 cases since this time last week, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The fatal victims were in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

“This grim milestone is an important reminder that COVID-19 is still active in Alexandria and that every resident has a role in stopping the spread, particularly to safeguard those at highest risk of severe illness and death,” according to the Alexandria Health Department. “While the arrival of vaccines offers hope that a return to normalcy is within reach, it may still be many months until the majority of Alexandrians are fully protected.”

Across Virginia, there have been 6,081 deaths and there are or have been 478,619 cases of the virus. There have also been 5.1 million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 12.6%.

According to Mayor Justin Wilson, the numbers are similar to what the city was experiencing over the summer.

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Five more Alexandria residents have died from COVID-19, and the death toll from the virus now stands at 96. The city has reached 8,810 cases, an increase of 654 cases since this time last week.

On the vaccine front, there have been more than 300,000 doses of the vaccine distributed across Virginia, and 36,826 people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The vaccine is now available to seniors older than 65, anyone ages 16-64 with preexisting conditions and health care workers. Pre-register to receive a vaccine in Alexandria here. Need a test? Find where tests are administered here.

There have also been 469 total hospitalizations in Alexandria since the onset of the pandemic, and the city’s seven-day moving average is 84.1.

Across Virginia, there have been 5,798 deaths and there are or have been 451,076 cases of the virus. There have also been 4.6 million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 16.7%.

Demographics

There are or have been 4,578 women (with 41 deaths*) and 4,183 men (with 49 deaths*) in Alexandria with the virus. The only age groups that have not experienced a death are children and teenagers.

  • 80+    — 39 deaths*, 227 cases
  • 70-79 — 23 deaths*, 296 cases
  • 60-69 — 10 deaths*, 655 cases
  • 50-59 — 14 deaths*, 1,028 cases
  • 40-49 — Two deaths*, 1,502 cases
  • 30-39 — Two deaths*, 2,040 cases
  • 20-29 — One death*, 1,776 cases
  • 10-19  — Zero deaths*, 634 cases
  • 0-9     — Zero deaths*, 622 cases

*Updated demographic information, including deaths, was not available on the VDH COVID-19 website.

Latino residents have the most infections with 3,189 reported cases, white residents with 2,157 cases, and Black residents with 1,768 cases. There are 381 cases with Asian or Pacific Islander residents, 251 cases classified as “other” and nine native American cases.

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 — 433 cases, 9,239 people tested (Estimated population 15,171)
  • 22302 — 981 cases, 15,997 people tested (Estimated population 20,238)
  • 22304 — 2,916 cases, 29,858 people tested (Estimated population 54,003)
  • 22305 — 1,369 cases, 10,986 people tested (Estimated population 16,095)
  • 22311 — 1,461 cases, 12,366 people tested (Estimated population 16,898)
  • 22312 — 2,091 cases, 16,447 people tested (Estimated population 6,901)
  • 22314 — 1,220 cases, 22,337 people tested (Estimated population 47,826)

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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Three more Alexandria residents have died from COVID-19, and the death toll from the virus now stands at 91. The city has reached 8,156 cases, an increase of 618 cases since this time last week.

The victims were two men and a woman, and one was in their 80s, another in their 70s and another in their 60s.

On the vaccine front, 1,032 vaccines have been administered to health care workers and seniors in nursing homes in Alexandria. There have been more than 200,000 doses of the vaccine distributed across Virginia, and a total of 189,283 first doses have been administered and 15,130 people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

There have also been 456 total hospitalizations in Alexandria since the onset of the pandemic, and the city’s seven-day moving average is 85.7.

Across Virginia, there have been 5,393 deaths and there are or have been 408,386 cases of the virus. There have also been 4.6 million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 16.7%.

Demographics

There are or have been 4,246 women (with 41 deaths) and 3,886 men (with 49 deaths) in Alexandria with the virus. The only age groups that have not experienced a death are children and teenagers.

  • 80+    — 39 deaths, 208 cases
  • 70-79 — 23 deaths, 275 cases
  • 60-69 — 10 deaths, 613 cases
  • 50-59 — 14 deaths, 969 cases
  • 40-49 — Two deaths, 1,384 cases
  • 30-39 — Two deaths, 1,897 cases
  • 20-29 — One death, 1,651 cases
  • 10-19  — Zero deaths, 571 cases
  • 0-9     — Zero deaths, 563 cases

Latino residents have the most infections with 3,008 reported cases (with 17 deaths), white residents with 1,932 cases (47 deaths), and Black residents with 1,627 cases (22 deaths). There are 337 cases with Asian or Pacific Islander residents (one death), 227 cases classified as “other” (two deaths) and 10 native American cases (no deaths).

There have also been 71 outbreaks in the city (an increase of seven outbreaks since last week), including 19 at long term care facilities, 36 in congregate settings, six in child care settings, two at a college, one in a K-12 setting and two at a correctional facility. There have been 763 cases associated with the outbreaks. Health care workers also make up 476 of those positive COVID cases, according to VDH.

Testing Update

There have been 94,804 Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) tests administered in the city; 6,209 antibody tests and 5,343 antigen tests.

However, the city recently warned of a risk of false negative results with testing company Curative, which has three PCR kiosks around the city.

“There is always a risk of false negative results with any PCR test, since the sensitivity is dependent on the concentration of virus in the sample and how well the sample was collected,” the Alexandria Health Department said in a recent release. “To ensure greater accuracy, the City specified in its contract with Curative that only nasal tests would be used, rather than Curative’s oral test.”

Alexandria’s seven-day positivity rate is now at 11.9%. Below are statistics for neighboring jurisdictions:

  • Arlington County has 10,117 cases, 186 deaths and a 12.3% seven-day positivity rate
  • Fairfax County has 50,379 cases, 723 deaths and a 14.4% seven-day positivity rate
  • Loudoun County has 15,443 cases, 164 deaths and a 17.7% seven-day positivity rate

Need a test? Find where tests are administered here.

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 — 385 cases, 8,650 people tested (Estimated population 15,171)
  • 22302 — 933 cases, 15,146 people tested (Estimated population 20,238)
  • 22304 — 2,645 cases, 27,955 people tested (Estimated population 54,003)
  • 22305 — 1,307 cases, 10,410 people tested (Estimated population 16,095)
  • 22311 — 1,372 cases, 11,771 people tested (Estimated population 16,898)
  • 22312 — 1,961 cases, 15,578 people tested (Estimated population 6,901)
  • 22314 — 1,102 cases, 20,872 people tested (Estimated population 47,826)

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Details Emerge in New Landmark Mall Plan — “Construction will happen over several years, likely starting with the demolition of the Landmark Mall building as early as 2022.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Office of Historic Alexandria Debuts Parker-Gray Commemorative Website — “Today the Office of Historic Alexandria launched a website to honor the opening of Parker-Gray High School in 1920. The page provides a wealth of history, including information about alumni, staff, and faculty.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Health Department Vaccinates Healthcare Workers — “Between December 24 and January 4, AHD administered 1,032 doses of vaccine, over the course of three vaccination events.” [City of Alexandria]

Bishop Ireton Seeking New Principal — “Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia seeks candidates for the position of Principal, with an official start date of July 1, 2021” [National Board for Professional Teacher Standards]

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