Alexandria City Public Schools told students in today’s morning announcements to respect the decisions of their peers who choose to not wear face masks in schools or on buses.
Senate Bill 739 went into effect today, allowing for Virginia parents to elect to opt their children out of mask wearing — reversing course on a rule that has been in effect since the beginning days of the pandemic in 2020.
“I would say 95% (of students) are wearing them,” an Alexandria City High School student told ALXnow. “They said on the announcements to respect people’s decisions.”
ACPS staff are asking that parents consider asking their kids to wear masks in periods of high or substantial transmission. Staff are still required to wear face masks, and the school system will continue to provide KN95 face masks for students and staff upon request.
“To the extent possible, we are asking our families to consider the level of community transmission,” Julie Crawford, ACPS chief of student services and equity, told the Board last week. “We also want to acknowledge that this could be a period of anxiety for our families and our students. We’ve been sharing with them for the last almost two years that maskings help to protect you and protect those around you, and this will be a big transition in our schools.”
Some School Board members were not happy with the legislation.
“We still want you to wear a mask, it’s just we can’t enforce it,” Member Rahman Elnoubi said. “We’re not doing this because we don’t want you to wear a mask anymore. We’re doing this because we have to because we want to abide by the law.”
Board Member Michelle Rief said that the decision to go mask-less is really now up to individual students.
“It almost is also leaving it up to the students in some ways,” Rief said. “I mean, unless their parents are giving them really clear directions on Tuesday.”
In the meantime, the School Board is not backing down in a lawsuit against Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order removing face mask mandates in public schools. Shortly after taking office in Jauary, Youngkin issued an executive order removing face mask mandates in public schools. Alexandria, along with Arlington and Fairfax County, defied that order.
The case is still pending in the Arlington Circuit Court.
Alexandria, Fairfax County and Arlington now have low Covid transmission levels, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s last update on community levels was on Feb. 25. The Virginia Department of Health still lists the city’s transmission rate as high, although the categorization has not been updated since Feb. 19. Alexandria has experienced high transmission since December.
There are 29,434 total reported cases in Alexandria, an increase of 130 cases since last week. There have been four more COVID-related deaths, bringing the death toll in the city to 184.
There have been 1,227 new Covid cases in February — a far cry from January, which saw a record-setting 12,822 positive cases.
The seven day average of new cases is now 20, down from 29 last week, and the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is now 5.7%, down from 6.5%.
Alexandria City Public Schools reports a total of 582 cases since December 1 (up 10 cases since last week), although the number of infected staff and students adds up to 599.
- There are 25,161 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
- About 75% of residents (116,047 people) are fully vaccinated
- 84% (128,719 people) of residents have gotten at least one dose
- 126,478 residents have gotten booster shots
Today @CDCgov released new guidance to measure and respond to COVID risk.
Thanks to our healthcare/public health workers, volunteers and essential workers, Alexandria today has a "Low" community level.
Our staff is evaluating (and will announce) how this impacts current policy. pic.twitter.com/6Z4xtJt0pJ
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) February 25, 2022
The rapid decline in Covid cases continues in Alexandria, but the transmission level remains high, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
There were 14 were cases of COVID-19 reported in the city today, according to VDH. That’s the lowest number of new daily cases since November 29, 2021, when 13 cases were reported.
The latest numbers
Alexandria saw a record-setting 12,822 positive COVID cases in January, and cases have dropped drastically over the last five consecutive weeks. This month, there have been 1,132 new cases.
There have been four more COVID-related deaths, bringing the death toll to 180.
There have been 29,434 total reported cases in Alexandria, an increase of 130 cases since last week. The seven day average of new cases is now 29, down from 77 last week. The seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is now 6.5%, down from 12.4% last week.
Additionally, Alexandria City Public Schools reports a total of 572 cases since December 1, although the number of infected staff and students adds up to 589.
The Alexandria Health Department is also recommending a fourth shot for immunocompromised residents who have received a booster shot.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released interim guidance clarifying that people with a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) who received an mRNA vaccine from Moderna and Pfizer should receive a COVID-19 booster dose three months after they complete their initial series of three doses, for a total of four doses,” AHD said in a release. “For immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, additional doses are strongly recommended.”
- There are 25,417 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
- About 75% of residents (115,700 people) are fully vaccinated
- 84% (128,463 people) of residents have gotten at least one dose
- 56,208 residents have gotten booster shots
Staying home is a good defense against Covid, but what if your home is full of mold? The Alexandria Health Department is recruiting 50 city residents with respiratory issues to participate in a free air quality pilot study, and is offering them $100 in gift cards.
The Alexandria Air Cleaning Evaluation for Healthier Homes pilot is based on the premise that many residents in underserved areas live in conditions that “actively harm their well-being.”
“The biggest piece of public health advice during COVID is to stay home,” Natalie Talis, AHD population health manager, told ALXnow. ” More and more Alexandrians have been spending more time at home because of that, but for many residents home can actually harm their health.”
Participants need to make less than $80,000 a year, have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), have WiFi, and agree to before-and-after home health assessments by the Health Department. After being chosen, entrants will get air quality monitors and portable Medify Air filters installed in their homes for six months, starting in March.
“Even before COVID happened, we knew that your home can impact your health, between air quality, trip hazards, inaccessibility, rodents and pests and mold — these are not new things in Alexandria,” Talis said. “For people who have asthma, or COPD, things like mold or poor ventilation can really trigger those flare-ups, which could lead to those preventable urgent care or emergency room visits, as well as impacting their quality of life, forcing them to stay home from activities away from work or school.”
Talis said that the pilot is part of a broader effort to make home conditions healthier in poorer neighborhoods around the city.
“The goal is to have data and information about whether an intervention like this can really impact people’s health conditions,” she said. “While this program is specifically focused on respiratory health, the long-term goal is to also address the many other conditions and issues that are related to your home. For example, you know, how are we going to support aging and helping to make sure that homes are accessible for people who may have disabilities or who may need extra modifications in their home?”
In last year’s Community Health Improvement Plan 2025, AHD found the average life expectancy in the city’s heavily Hispanic Arlandria neighborhood is 78, while more affluent areas like Old Town have a life expectancy of 87. Talis also said recent data showed Black residents living in 22304 (in the Landmark area) are disproportionately experiencing higher rates of asthma hospitalizations compared to other members of the community.
According to the Healthy Housing In Alexandria report:
- More than 70% of Alexandria’s housing stock was built prior to 1990 (many asbestos regulations did not go into effect until 1985), more than 60% was built before 1980 (lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978), and nearly 20% was built before 1950, which means the housing may contain asbestos as well as lead (in paint, pipes, and fixtures) and may not have many of the energy, health, and safety measures commonly employed now.
- A snapshot of the City’s health available via the 2021 County Healthy Rankings indicates 17% of its housing suffers from severe housing problems; i.e., at least one of the following four issues: overcrowding, high housing costs, lack of kitchen facilities, or lack of plumbing facilities.12 Of those four issues, high housing costs and overcrowding are the most prevalent in Alexandria; according to the American Community Survey, only 348 units lack kitchens and 143 units lack flush toilets.
Regardless of a reporting inaccuracy by the Virginia Department of Health, Alexandria’s Covid numbers are still going down.
VDH identified 220 cases that were “inaccurately auto-generated duplicated in the case reporting system,” which is why there were 19 cases reported on Feb. 6, 20 cases on Feb. 7 and 43 cases on Feb. 8 — all sharp contrasts to the hundreds of daily cases being reported the previous week. Additionally, three deaths from January were also added to the city’s death toll, which now stands at 176.
“These cases have been removed from Alexandria’s total case numbers, causing the case counts on February 6-8 to appear artificially low on Virginia Department of Health and City of Alexandria dashboards,” according to the Alexandria Health Department.
There have been 29,204 total reported cases in Alexandria, an increase of 366 cases since this time last week. The seven day average of daily new cases is now 52, down from 77 last week.
There is one set of numbers unaffected by the inaccuracy is the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests, which is is also significantly down — now 8.8%, down from 12.4% last week and 15.7% two weeks ago.
There have also been 538 cases reported within Alexandria City Public Schools since Dec. 1, an increase of 32 cases since last week. Of those cases, 460 are students and 92 are staff.
Every locality in Virginia is now experiencing high transmission. Alexandria went from “Substantial” to “High” transmission in December.
- There are 25,964 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
- About 75% of residents (115,078 people) are fully vaccinated
- 83% (127,916 people) of residents have gotten at least one dose
- 55,535 residents have gotten booster shots
Alexandria’s Pat Malone will stand up to cancer for 24 hours straight starting this Thursday (Feb. 10) at Fire Works Pizza in Arlington.
The event starts at 4:26 p.m. Thursday and ends at the same time on Friday.
“Standing up so long thoroughly wears me out,” Malone told ALXnow. “People tell me afterward that I look like I got hit by a bus.”
It’s the eighth annual fundraiser for the 64-year-old Malone, who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Stand Up To Cancer nonprofit.
“The event is very heartfelt,” Malone said. “There are people that are suffering with cancer who can’t stand up and are bedridden or in a wheelchair.”
Donations can be made on Malone’s GoFundMe page.
The 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran has been cancer-free for nearly eight years since undergoing a successful surgery to remove a Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He also had 29 chemotherapy treatments.
“It was like a second birth,” Malone said of his successful surgery. “My birthday is August 12, but February 11 is like a second birthday for me because people at Walter Reed saved my life. I get choked up.”
Donors and survivors will have their names written on paper Stand Up To Cancer plaques, which will be posted on a window of the restaurant.
“On Friday morning there will be anywhere from 50 to 100 plaques there,” Malone said. “I’ll look at those names, and I’ll be by myself sometimes. Quite often, actually, and I have a prayer list and I look at those names and I cry like a baby.”
Fifty percent of men and about 33% of women will get cancer in their lifetimes, according to The National Cancer Institute.
The number of positive Covid cases continues to go down in Alexandria, as officials say that the latest wave of Omicron cases will recede within a month.
While cases have gone down for the third straight week, numbers are still historically high.
“Right now the transmission still remains at historically high levels,” Alexandria Health Department Director,Dr. David C. Rose told City officials recently. ” Previously in the pandemic, we only had a handful of days with over 120 cases per day… Modeling shows that we should be out of the current surge within a month or so.”
There have been 28,302 total reported cases in Alexandria, an increase of 949 cases since this time last week. There have also been 9,822 cases reported in Alexandria in January, including 523 cases reported within Alexandria City Public Schools since Dec. 1, of which 202 are children and 46 are staff.
In the meantime, the city is continuing to ask residents, businesses and visitors to “Wear It Well” by wearing face masks in public indoor spaces, whether vaccinated or not.
The city’s transmission rate went from “Substantial” to “High” last month.
By the numbers
- The number of deaths remains at 165.
- The seven day average of daily new cases is now 84.5, down from 208 this time last week
- The seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is now 15.7%, down from 21.7% last week
- There are 28,503 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
- About 70% of residents (107,641 people) are fully vaccinated
- 82% (126,279) of residents have gotten at least one dose
- As of last week, 45,919 residents have gotten a booster shot
George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA) has opened up a new primary care office at 1500 N. Beauregard Street, suite 100, near the Mark Center.
“GW Primary Care is excited to provide care to the entire Alexandria, Virginia community,” GW MFA said on its website. “From the Old Town Waterfront to Alexandria’s West End, we are committed to improving the lives of our patients through quality and equitable health care.”
The practice opened January 3. The website lists standard primary care services like preventive screenings, prescription medicines, and common illness/injuries.
“Our highly skilled medical team is passionate about taking care of the health and well-being of our patients in the community,” GW MFA said on the website. “We look forward to being an active part of the Alexandria community – ensuring that we are working to improve the lives of the patients we serve.”
GW MFA has other locations in D.C. and Maryland, and the Alexandria office is the first in Virginia.
Alexandria City Public Schools received 88,000 KN95 face masks for all students and staff last week, not long after newly installed Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order removing face mask mandates in public schools.
Alexandria, along with Arlington and Fairfax County, defied that order and are still requiring students, staff and visitors wear masks indoors. The Alexandria City High School athletic department has also reinstituted mask wearing during practices and competition.
“The Universal masking, of course, is critical in all of our ACPS buildings and on our vehicles,” Julie Crawford, the ACPS chief of student services and equity, told the School Board last Thursday night. “We want to stress how important properly secured masks are to decreasing the transmission rate, especially for in-person activities.”
The 88,000 KN95 masks consist of both adult and student-sized masks, according to Alicia Hart, the ACPS acting chief of facilities and operations.
“Due to the limited supply, the first priority for the KN95 mask distribution is for ACPS students and staff,” Hart said. “As additional masks arrive, provisions for visitors will be considered. Please note that there are no non-essential visitors to our schools at this time.”
Hart could not say how long the shipment will last, but said ACPS will make more orders if necessary.
“We will continue to make additional orders as necessary, which is our standard practice with all PPE (personal protective equipment) needs,” Hart said.
Alexandria’s Covid numbers are going down, but the numbers of new reported cases continues to rise by the hundreds on a daily basis.
There have been 26,907 total cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health as of today (Monday, Jan. 18), and the number of deaths has climbed by two since last week to 163. Sunday, Jan. 17, saw the the fewest single day number of cases reported so far this year with 191 new cases.
There have been 7,406 cases reported in Alexandria so far this month alone. The city’s transmission rate went from “Substantial” to “High” last month.
By the numbers
- The seven day average of daily new cases is now 337, down from 409 this time last week
- The seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is now 27.4%, down from 28.6% last week
- There have been 37 cases reported within Alexandria City Public Schools so far this month
- There are 28,503 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
- About 70% of residents (107,033 people) are fully vaccinated
- 82% (125,377) of residents have gotten at least one dose
- 44,419 residents have gotten a booster shot