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Tap water in Alexandria. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria’s drinking water has an “actionable” level of Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), and the City Council just endorsed a plan to help clean it up.

The long-lasting substances, also known as “forever chemicals,” are hard to break down and pollute Alexandria’s drinking water to an “actionable” degree, Mayor Justin Wilson wrote in a letter unanimously supported by Council. PFAS are proven to weaken immune response, increase cancer risk and liver damage, and pose a risk to pregnant women and their babies.

“This is not a new issue that has been raised to our our attention,” Wilson said on Tuesday night (April 25). “Alexandria’s drinking water has a relatively high action levels in a couple of different areas.”

In February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that $27.2 million from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would go to Virginia to address “emerging contaminants” in drinking water. The manufactured chemicals are known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), and include industrial and consumer products such as cosmetics, shampoo, certain dental flosses, cleaning products, fire extinguisher fluid, food containers and non-stick cookware.

On March 29, EPA proposed new maximum contaminant level (MCL) goals by targeting a number of PFAS. The proposal was published in the Federal Register and must undergo a 60-to-90 day public comment period.

Wilson urged the EPA to finalize the regulations without delay, and the agency anticipates doing so by the end of the year.

“Alexandria’s waterworks is one of the thousands of systems nationally that currently exceed the MCL (maximum contaminant level) that the EPA has proposed,” he wrote. As detailed by the EPA’s analysis, full implementation of these new standards will prevent tens of thousands of illnesses and deaths.”

Alexandria residents get their water from Virginia American Water Company, which reported last year that the city’s PFAS are actionable under EPAs proposed regulations.

  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA): Range detected 2.8 — 4.5/ppt (parts per trillion)
  • Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS): Range detected 3.2 — 4.0/ppt
  • Perfluorohexanesulfonate (PhHxS): Range detected 0.0 — 2.3/ppt
  • Perfluorobutanesulfonic Acid (PFBS): Renge detected 0.0 — 4.7/ppt

The Virginia Department of Health is also advising that public water systems detecting PFAS in drinking water should “take steps to inform customers, undertake additional sampling to assess the level, scope, and source of contamination, and examine steps to limit exposure.”

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Art On The Avenue in Del Ray, Nov. 12, 2022 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria’s Covid community-level has gone from “low” to “high” this month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Low, medium or high Covid community levels are determined by data on hospitalizations and cases, according to the CDC. Each level comes with steps recommended by the federal agency that people and communities can take to protect themselves and others from potentially severe impacts of the virus.

The city is still experiencing hundreds of new Covid cases monthly, but the numbers are trending down, according to data from the Virginia Dept. of Health. The seven-day average of new cases is now 37.1, down slightly from 39.1 reported at the end of December. There have been 628 new cases reported so far in January.

No new deaths have been reported, and the death toll stands at 224.

Regionally, Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun counties, as well as D.C., have moved from low to medium designations, per the CDC.

New Covid cases this week in Alexandria (via VDH)

When community levels are “high,” the CDC recommends the following:

  • Wear a high-quality mask or respirator
  • If you are at high risk of getting very sick, consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed
  • If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for getting very sick, consider self-testing to detect infection before contact, and consider wearing a high-quality mask when indoors with them
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, including recommended booster doses
  • Maintain ventilation improvements
  • Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • Follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • Follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19

Where to find Covid tests

Residents can get rapid COVID-19 test kits at the city’s libraries, and kits are limited to seven per-person. Covid tests can also be found for kids within Alexandria City Public Schools. A list of testing options is available on the city’s website.

2022 was the worst year for new cases

The redesignation comes after a difficult year for new Covid cases.

There were 28,743 new Covid cases reported last year in Alexandria, comprising 64% of the 44,826 total cases since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to the Virginia Department of Health. There were also 49 deaths in 2022.

This time last year, Alexandria was experiencing the worst month of the pandemic. There were 12,822 new Covid cases reported in January 2022, and the seven-day average of new cases peaked at 337.

In many ways, Alexandria went back to business as usual, with community events returning in full force — despite the number of new cases. In November, tens of thousands of people attended Art On The Avenue in Del Ray, as well as last month’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town.

The Alexandria Health Department’s last Covid-related release to the public was in June 2022, announcing vaccines for infants.

Below are the monthly totals of new cases for 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases
  • August — 1,499 new cases
  • September — 991 new cases
  • October — 526 new cases
  • November — 626 new cases
  • December — 1,318 new cases
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Coronavirus illustration (Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash)

Three more Alexandria residents have died of COVID-19 over the last two weeks, while an uptick in cases has slightly dipped.

There were 32 new cases reported on Dec. 28 (Wednesday) in Alexandria, and the Virginia Department of Health has not updated its figures over the last two days.

The number of reported cases now stands at 44,038, and the seven-day average of new cases is 39, down from 42.7 two weeks ago.

Daily coronavirus counts over the past 13 weeks in Alexandria. (Via VDH)

Alexandria’s Community Levels remains low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nine residents have died from Covid in the last 13 weeks. Six of the residents were in their 80s, and the other residents were in their 70s, 50s and 40s. No children or teens in Alexandria have died from the virus.

There have been 1,168 new cases reported so far in December.

  • 32 new cases on Dec. 28
  • 29 new cases on Dec. 27
  • 17 new cases on Dec. 26
  • 36 new cases on Dec. 25
  • 44 new cases on Dec. 24
  • 63 new cases on Dec. 23
  • 52 new cases on Dec. 22
  • 80 new cases on Dec. 21
  • 28 new cases on Dec. 20
  • 21 new cases on Dec. 19
  • 44 new cases on Dec. 18
  • 63 new cases on Dec. 17
  • 51 new cases on Dec. 16
  • 49 new cases on Dec. 15
  • 69 new cases on Dec. 14
  • 65 new cases on Dec. 13
  • 19 new cases on Dec. 12
  • 34 new cases on Dec. 11
  • 53 new cases on Dec. 10
  • 43 new cases on Dec. 9
  • 46 new cases on Dec. 8
  • 54 new cases on Dec. 7
  • 30 new cases on Dec. 6
  • 13 new cases on Dec. 5
  • 29 new cases on Dec. 4
  • 18 new cases on Dec. 3
  • 47 new cases on Dec. 2
  • 39 new cases on Dec. 1

Below are the monthly totals for the rest of 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases
  • August — 1,499 new cases
  • September — 991 new cases
  • October — 526 new cases
  • November — 626 new cases

Where to find Covid tests

Residents can get rapid COVID-19 test kits at the city’s libraries, and kits are limited to seven per-person. Covid tests can also be found for kids within Alexandria City Public Schools and a full list of testing options is available on the city’s website.

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Covid cases are on the rise as Alexandria heads into the December holidays.

There were 69 reported cases today (Wednesday) in Alexandria, the largest amount of new cases in a single day in more than four months. The number of reported cases now stands at 43,429, and the seven-day average of new cases is 42.7.

The last time the city saw as many cases reported in one day was on August 8.

New COVID-19 cases in Alexandria over the last 26 weeks. (via VDH)

Cases are also on the rise in Fairfax County, Arlington and Loudoun County, although Community Levels remain low in all of the jurisdictions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seven Alexandria residents died from Covid in the last 13 weeks and the death toll has risen to 216, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Except for one person in their 40s, all of the residents who died were in their 80s.

No children or teens in Alexandria have died from the virus.

All Covid-related deaths by age group in Alexandria. (via VDH)

There have been 559 new cases reported so far in December.

  • 69 new cases on Dec. 14
  • 65 new cases on Dec. 13
  • 19 new cases on Dec. 12
  • 34 new cases on Dec. 11
  • 53 new cases on Dec. 10
  • 43 new cases on Dec. 9
  • 46 new cases on Dec. 8
  • 54 new cases on Dec. 7
  • 30 new cases on Dec. 6
  • 13 new cases on Dec. 5
  • 29 new cases on Dec. 4
  • 18 new cases on Dec. 3
  • 47 new cases on Dec. 2
  • 39 new cases on Dec. 1

Below are the monthly totals for the rest of 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases
  • August — 1,499 new cases
  • September — 991 new cases
  • October — 526 new cases
  • November — 626 new cases

Where to find Covid tests

Residents can get rapid COVID-19 test kits at the city’s libraries, and kits are limited to seven per-person. Covid tests can also be found for kids within Alexandria City Public Schools and a full list of testing options is available on the city’s website.

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Alexandria Health Department at 4480 King Street

Alexandria is gunning for authority to run its own health department.

Every year, Alexandria sends representatives to Richmond to plead its case to the General Assembly. With the city under the yoke of the Dillon Rule — which says that local government can only exercise powers expressly granted by the state — often times those legislative priorities focus on areas where the city wants a little more wiggle room.

This year, as part of the ongoing Covid recovery efforts, the city is hoping for more authority to establish its own health department. There is an Alexandria Health Department, but it’s one of 33 health districts that are part of the state’s health department. Health department leadership is chosen by the state and answers to state leadership. Neighboring Fairfax and Arlington both have independent health departments.

“[Alexandria supports] legislation to provide the City of Alexandria with the authority to establish a locally administered health department, under contract with the Virginia Department of Health,” the draft legislative package says, “and ensure the City’s investment in its public health system is focused on and responsive to the needs of all Alexandrians.”

Other recovery priorities include increasing investment in workforce development initiatives to help workers acquire skills to fill childcare and healthcare jobs — both critically in need in Alexandria. The legislative package cites the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, Virginia Jobs Investment Program and the G3 community college grant program as state-funded programs that benefit Alexandria’s workforce training.

Lastly, in pandemic recovery, the legislative package says investment is needed in programs to help recover from Covid-related learning loss.

“[Alexandria supports investing] in programs to mitigate and recover from COVID-19 related learning loss among Virginia students,” the legislative package says, “especially among students with higher level, more specialized needs, including special education students, English language learners, and students living in economically disadvantaged households.”

The legislative package is scheduled for review at the City Council meeting on Saturday, Dec. 17.

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Nine Alexandria residents died of COVID-19 over the last month, bringing the death toll from the virus to 210.

The number of cases is still declining, and the city’s Community Level remains low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day average of new cases is now 10.7 — down from the mid-30s at around this time last month.

There have been 385 cases reported so far in October, and as of Monday (October 24), there have been 42,133 total reported cases since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The new fatalities include six Alexandrians in their 80s, one in their 70s, two in their 60s and one in their 50s.

There were 991 new cases in September, making last month the second-lowest month for new infections in 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases
  • August — 1,499 new cases
  • September — 991 new cases

Below are numbers of new cases this month:

  • 26 new cases on October 24
  • 11 new cases on October 23
  • 9 new cases on October 22
  • 13 new cases on October 21
  • 8 new cases on October 20
  • -1 new cases on October 19
  • 9 new cases on October 18
  • 36 new cases on October 17
  • 22 new cases on October 16
  • 23 new cases on October 15
  • 16 new cases on October 14
  • 7 new cases on October 13
  • 24 new cases on October 12
  • 4 new cases on October 11
  • 14 new cases on October 10
  • 19 new cases on October 9
  • 16 new cases on October 8
  • 19 new cases on October 7
  • 19 new cases on October 6
  • 16 new cases on October 5
  • 19 new cases on October 4
  • 14 new cases on October 3
  • 22 new cases on October 2
  • 20 new cases on October 1

Vaccine Update

  • There are 22,515 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
  • About 86% of residents (134,936 people) are fully vaccinated
  • 61,950 residents got their first booster shot
  • 11,827 residents got their second booster shot
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has returned Alexandria’s community level from “Medium” to “Low.”

The city had a Medium community level since April, and the city now joins its regional counterparts in Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington Counties with the Low designation.

Cases are still cropping up, but at a much lower rate than previous months. As of Monday (September 12), there are 41,200 reported cases and 201 deaths, which is an increase of three deaths since this time last month.

The seven-day average of new cases is 36.9 — down from 55.6 at around this time last month.

There have been 443 cases reported so far in September.

Below are new cases this month.

  • 32 new cases on September 12
  • 34 new cases on September 11
  • 53 new cases on September 10
  • 66 new cases on September 9
  • 3 new cases on September 8
  • 39 new cases on September 7
  • 31 new cases on September 6
  • 31 new cases on September 5
  • 26 new cases on September 4
  • 49 new cases on September 3
  • 47 new cases on September 2
  • 32 new cases on September 1

Below are monthly totals for 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases
  • August — 1,499 new cases

Vaccine Update

  • There are 23,365 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
  • About 78% of residents (121,950 people) are fully vaccinated
  • 85% (134,086 people) of residents got at least one dose
  • 61,950 residents got their first booster shot
  • 11,827 residents got their second booster shot
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With Alexandria hitting 50 cases of Monkeypox, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) is planning to host a virtual meeting next week to address concerns about the virus.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m.

Of the 353 cases of Monkeypox in Virginia, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said Alexandria has 50 of them.

“Public health officials will address important community concerns including how the virus is spread, common symptoms, vaccine eligibility and what the City is doing to keep residents and businesses well-informed,” a release from AHD said. “Monkeypox continues to be a rapidly evolving situation as cases in Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland increase.”

Questions can be submitted online in advance of the meeting via the city website.

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Two more Alexandria residents have died from COVID-19, and the city just surpassed 40,000 reported cases, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The death toll from the pandemic now stands at 198, and the number of cases is 40,081. The seven-day average of daily cases is now 55.6, a slight uptick over last week.

The news comes on the heels of new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which no longer recommends quarantining for people exposed to the virus, as long as they aren’t symptomatic.

The city has had a Medium community level since April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Alexandria Health Department’s last update was on June 21, to announce the availability of vaccine shots for kids older than six months of age. The city’s state of emergency expired on June 30.

There have been 823 new Covid cases reported in Alexandria so far this month.

  • 30 new cases on August 15
  • 46 new cases on August 14
  • 53 new cases on August 13
  • 68 new cases on August 12
  • 61 new cases on August 11
  • 67 new cases on August 10
  • 64 new cases on August 9
  • 31 new cases on August 8
  • 32 new cases on August 7
  • 48 new cases on August 6
  • 68 new cases on August 5
  • 65 new cases on August 4
  • 69 new cases on August 3
  • 66 new cases on August 2
  • 55 new cases on August 1

Below are monthly totals for 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases

Vaccine Update

  • There are 24,138 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
  • About 77% of residents (121,068 people) are fully vaccinated
  • 85% (133,556 people) of residents got at least one dose
  • 61,950 residents got their first booster shot
  • 11,827 residents got their second booster shot

The new CDC guidance is below.

  • Children and adults with mild, symptomatic COVID-19: Isolation can end at least 5 days after symptom onset and after fever ends for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and symptoms are improving, if these people can continue to properly wear a well-fitted mask around others for 5 more days after the 5-day isolation period. Day 0 is the first day of symptoms.
  • People who are infected but asymptomatic (never develop symptoms): Isolation can end at least 5 days after the first positive test (with day 0 being the date their specimen was collected for the positive test), if these people can continue to wear a properly well-fitted mask around others for 5 more days after the 5-day isolation period. However, if symptoms develop after a positive test, their 5-day isolation period should start over (day 0 changes to the first day of symptoms).
  • People who have moderate COVID-19 illnessIsolate for 10 days.
  • People who are severely ill (i.e., requiring hospitalization, intensive care, or ventilation support): Extending the duration of isolation and precautions to at least 10 days and up to 20 days after symptom onset, and after fever ends (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and symptoms are improving, may be warranted.
  • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised might have a longer infectious period: Extend isolation to 20 or more days (day 0 is the first day of symptoms or a positive viral test). Use a test-based strategy and consult with an infectious disease specialist to determine the appropriate duration of isolation and precautions.
  • Recovered patients: Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 can continue to have detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA in upper respiratory specimens for up to 3 months after illness onset. However, replication-competent virus has not been reliably recovered from such patients, and they are not likely infectious.
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With summer heat in full swing, Covid cases are trending downward in Alexandria.

As of Monday (August 8), there are 39,692 reported cases, according to the Virginia Department of Health. There have been 196 deaths.

The seven-day average of new cases is now 54.1. At around the same period in July, the seven-day average of new cases was 70.9 — exactly the seven-day average on June 20.

The city currently has a Medium community level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been 434 new cases reported so far this month. Below are monthly totals for 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases

The Alexandria Health Department’s last update was on June 21, to announce the availability of vaccine shots for kids older than six months of age. The city’s two-and-a-half-year-long state of emergency expired on June 30.

Vaccine Update

  • There are 24,138 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
  • About 77% of residents (120,881 people) are fully vaccinated
  • 85% (133,313 people) of residents got at least one dose
  • 61,950 residents got their first booster shot
  • 11,827 residents got their second booster shot

This month, VDH reported the following new cases in Alexandria:

  • 31 new cases on August 8
  • 32 new cases on August 7
  • 48 new cases on August 6
  • 68 new cases on August 5
  • 65 new cases on August 4
  • 69 new cases on August 3
  • 66 new cases on August 2
  • 55 new cases on August 1
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