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Eyelash extensions at Amazing Lash Studio (via Facebook)

Need an eyelash extension? A new studio just opened up in Alexandria’s West End that will keep your lashes lush for weeks on end.

April Nickens opened her first Amazing Lash Studio franchise in the West End Village shopping center at 374 S. Pickett Street on March 24.

“I always say super heroes don’t always wear capes,” Nickens told ALXnow. “We wear lashes, too.”

Customers pay between $112 and $140 for membership for two eyelash extension refills every month. It takes about two hours to attach the extensions to individual lashes with a strong adhesive. The lashes stay on for about two weeks. Starting next month, the studio will also offer lash and brow tinting, brow eliminations and brow waxing.

Nickens has eight employees and 12 lash rooms, and says that she has room to grow in the space.

“I wake up every morning feeling beautiful and confident,” Nickens said. “The business part is good. I have a good group of young ladies who work with me, who started with me from the beginning.”

The Alexandria shop is located the former home of PIES Fitness Yoga Studio, (now at 1322 Prince Street). This the first of two franchises that Nickens has opened, and she’s currently shopping around for another location in D.C. and southern Maryland.

“We’re not shopping too aggressively now because we’re getting the Alexandria location up and running,” Nickens said. “We’ll hopefully be opening another studio within the next year.”

Nickens is also the director of operations for a political polling strategy company in D.C. She was drawn to eyelash extensions two years ago after her two daughters gave them as a gift for her 25th wedding anniversary.

“My daughters thought to dress me up with lashes,” she said. “I loved the way it made me feel. Afterwards, when we were looking at a number of franchises, I always came back to the lashes, mainly because of my daughters.”

Amazing Lash was founded in 2010, and is part of WellBiz Brands Inc., a franchise portfolio company operating Amazing Lash StudioFitness Together, and Elements Massage. There are more than 250 Amazing Lash franchises around the country, including locations in Ashburn, Woodbridge, Burke, Manassas, Forest and Gainesville.

The store is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. A grand opening will be held on Monday, May 1, at noon.

Via Amazing Lash/Facebook

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A young boy is tested for COVID-19 at a Neighborhood Health testing facility outside Casa Chirilagua in Arlandria (Staff photo by James Cullum)

Healthcare non-profit Neighborhood Health is hitching its wagon to the great West End migration as it joins several city services in a new ‘West End City Hall‘ at the Mark Center.

The building at 4850 Mark Center Drive, officially the Redella S. “Del” Pepper Community Resource Center, will be a new hub for offices like the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) and the Alexandria Health Department.

A lease for Neighborhood Health’s 11,424 square foot wing of the new location is heading to the City Council at the meeting (docket item 11) tomorrow (Saturday). Dr. Basim Khan, executive director of Neighborhood Health, told ALXnow the move will help position Neighborhood Health closer to some of the residents most reliant on the non-profit’s services.

“We’re excited to be part of this move because a lot of residents who need our services are located in and around the West End,” Khan said. “One [of our clinics] is in the DCHS St. Asaph Street building, the other is in the Alexandria Health Department King Street building. Given that those buildings are closing, we’re happy we’ll have space in the Mark Center.”

Khan said Neighborhood Health’s mental illness and dental programs will be moving to the Mark Center location. The new Mark Center location, Khan said, will also allow Neighborhood Health to be a little less constrained. While Neighborhood Health’s other clinics in Alexandria will remain open, Khan said the new locations will let Neighborhood Health expand somewhat and relieve some of the pressure on the overcrowded clinics.

“Over the last several years, we’ve struggled with high demand but limited space,” Khan said. “This gives us a chance to decompress a little bit. That additional space will be helpful to help us provide services.”

Khan said another advantage of the West End location is being adjacent to many other city programs Neighborhood Health patients utilize.

“Many of our patients access DCHS and Health Department services, so my hope with being located is that it improves access to those services and vice versa,” Khan said.

The West End is one of the most densely populated sections of Alexandria and many residences like Southern Towers act as some of the city’s last bastions of market rate affordable housing.

“We do have a lot of demand from patients who live around the Mark Center,” Khan said. “We have a lot of patients from those zip codes and having a site in the West End should be a great benefit.”

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Around 1:15 p.m. an Alexandria City High School student was taken to the hospital for a suspected overdose.

Fire department spokeswoman Raytevia Evans confirmed that emergency personnel responded to a possible overdose at the school.

“The call came out around 1:15 [p.m.] for a possible overdose and a request for multi-agency response,” Evans said. “It was a possible overdose.”

Evans said one person, a child, was transported to the hospital, though there’s no additional information about their status.

A student at Wakefield High School in Arlington died last week after an overdose at the school. The Alexandria Police Department warned last year that the city is seeing an increase in teen overdoses linked to pills laced with fentanyl.

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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Negative Covid tests (photo courtesy Aimee Miller)

With the holiday season approaching, a prerequisite for some family gatherings could be a negative Covid test. With Curative shutting down its testing kiosks throughout the region that might get slightly harder, but there are other resources.

The kiosks have provided around 195,000 Covid tests, the City of Alexandria said in a release, but demand for kiosk testing has dropped off dramatically since 2021.

“As of December 26, 2022, the private company Curative has chosen to close its Alexandria COVID-19 testing kiosks city-wide,” the City of Alexandria said. “Curative is closing all testing sites throughout the region before the end of the year.”

The postal service had previously offered free rapid home antigen tests, but those were suspended in September.

Several medical facilities offer testing, but require seeing a doctor for testing and can cost between $50 up to $300.

The most affordable way to get testing kits in Alexandria is from the library. Alexandria libraries carry rapid COVID-19 test kits available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a limit of seven kits per person, and the city advised locals to call the library branch to check availability.

Those phone numbers and addresses are:

  • Beatley Central Library (5005 Duke Street): 703-746-1702
    Barrett Branch Library (717 Queen Street): 703-746-1703
    Burke Branch Library (4701 Seminary Road): 703-746-1704
    Duncan Branch Library (2501 Commonwealth Avenue): 703-746-1705

Scheduled Covid tests are also available for public school students and staff through Alexandria City Public Schools.

A full list of testing options is available on the city’s website.

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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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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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