Newsletter

A number of New Year’s Eve parties are being voluntarily canceled in Alexandria, and some businesses scaling back their services. All of this, of course, is in response to a dramatic jump in COVID-19 infections over the last month.

According to the Del Ray Business Association, the following businesses have stopped in-person service:

In Old Town, the rising tide of new cases led to the cancelation of First Night Alexandria, the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

These businesses have canceled their New Year’s Eve parties:

These New Year’s Eve celebrations are still on:

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Despite high numbers of new COVID-19 infections, Alexandria City Public Schools plan on fully reopening from winter break on Monday, Jan. 3.

“ACPS continues to use the current health and safety guidelines provided on our 2021-22 Health & Safety Guidance web page,” Julie Crawford, ACPS Chief of Student Services and Equity, told ALXnow. “At present, there is no change to our return plans after winter break.”

As of today (Wednesday, Dec. 29), there have been 18,319 cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, which is an increase of 505 cases since Monday, according to the Virginia Department of Health. There were 174 cases of COVID-19 reported in ACPS in December, and 411 total cases reported since school started in August.

The seven-day average of daily new cases in the city is now 261, up from 248 on Monday. The number of deaths has risen by four to 161, although the Alexandria Health Department says the new fatalities were city residents who died out of state in 2020.

Just as with Thanksgiving, the Alexandria Health Department recommends avoiding crowds, getting COVID-tested three-to-five days after returning from the winter holiday and getting vaccinated.

Additionally, the Alexandria Health Department released the following quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • For people who are unvaccinated or not recently vaccinated (more than six months after their second mRNA dose or more than two months after the J&J vaccine), CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. If the recommended five-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.
  • Individuals who have received their booster shot or are recently vaccinated (less than six months after their second mRNA dose or less than two months after the J&J vaccine) do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for ten days after the exposure.
  • For anyone who is exposed, is it best to get tested for COVID-19 on the fifth day after the last known exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms that symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
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With the Omicron variant situation sending Alexandria’s COVID numbers skyrocketing, several New Year’s events like First Night are being canceled.

A majority of poll respondents last week said their holiday travel plans weren’t being affected by COVID-19 and they still planned to travel.

Alexandria hit a new high of 376 recorded COVID-19 cases on Christmas day, though in part this could be from the city also seeing a record-high in COVID testing.

With the new year just a few days away, what are you plans for the weekend?

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In the last two weeks, Alexandria went from just over 15,000 reported cases of COVID-19 to surpassing 16,000 cases.

As of today (Monday, Dec. 20) there have been 16,075 reported cases of the coronavirus in Alexandria, and more of 800 of new infections have listed since this time last week by the Virginia Department of Health. There have also been 156 deaths from the virus.

The Alexandria Health Department says “individual actions” will slow down the spread, and urged “practical” safety precautions over the holidays.

In the meantime, the First Night Alexandria celebration on New Year’s Eve in is still on. The event brings thousands of people to Old Town for dozens of events and culminates with fireworks on the waterfront.

“First Night Alexandria is committed to keeping the health and safety of our community our top priority,” First Night Alexandria says on its website.

Alexandria’s transmission rate went from “Substantial” to “High” at the end of November, and AHD advises residents to limit the number of people at celebrations, take COVID tests, avoid travel and get booster shots.

“Cases have been increasing over the past few weeks following a post-Thanksgiving surge,” the city said in a weekly release. “Based on a recent AHD analysis of November cases, unvaccinated people are 4 times more likely to get COVID-19, and 5 times more likely to be hospitalized compared to fully vaccinated people. However, with the significantly increased transmission rates, there is also a rise in cases among those who are fully vaccinated.”

The seven day average of daily new cases is now 111, and the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 people is 69, up from 25.3 last week. The seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is now 7.2%, up from 5.1% last week.

Contact tracing

The rise in cases has forced the health department’s contact tracers to shift their workload, and they will no longer make multiple attempts to reach residents who test positive.

“Currently, staff will only make one phone call with a voicemail and send one text message,” AHD said. “Residents are strongly urged to answer calls from AHD or to return them for guidance on next steps. Those who are positive should also begin calling their potential close contacts to let them know they may have been exposed and to get tested as soon as possible, regardless of vaccination status.”

Vaccine update

About 57% of Alexandria’s 5-17-year-olds (10,024 people) have been fully vaccinated, as have 73% (95,273) of residents older than 18, and about 84% (16,244) of seniors. Additionally, 35,886 residents have gotten booster shots.

There are still 32,493 unvaccinated residents.

Find vaccine providers in Alexandria here. If you feel sick, get tested.

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2020 was ALXnow’s first full year, having launched last fall, and we put together a list of the top stories to celebrate.

Thanks for reading!

10. Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria (9,559 views)

Around 12,750 residents and local businesses were left without power during a large power outage in October, one of several this year. The October outage covered Del Ray, Potomac Yard and Arlandria.

9. Poll: What Should Be Done With the Confederate Statue in Old Town? (10,257 views)

ALXnow breaking the story about the longtime Confederate statue’s removal didn’t crack the top ten list — it was number 16 — but a poll in April when it’s removal was authorized did. Those polled voted overwhelmingly that the statue should stay in place, with 4,247 votes favoring keeping it in place.

8. BREAKING: Murder Suspect Was Released After COVID-19 Court Delay, Allegedly Kills Former Girlfriend Before Trial (11,543 views)

Ibrahim Bouaichi, the Maryland man suspected of murdering Karla Elizabeth Dominguez Gonzalez before killing himself, had been released on bond awaiting charges that he’d assaulted and raped Gonzalez. A GoFundMe for Gonzalez’s memorial service ultimately raised $11,596.

7. BREAKING: Woman Dies After Falling Off Seminary Road Overpass to Van Dorn Street (12,230 views)

A woman fell from an overpass off Seminary Road and was declared dead at the hospital. The incident shut down traffic in the nearby area as police investigated.

6. Muay Thai Champ Gets Racist Threats at Jones Point Park (15,865 views)

Amine Ballafrikh was finishing up a workout video at Jones Point Park when he was harassed on camera and received racist threats.

5. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile (23,365 views)

Several Alexandrians who had posted signs supporting Joe Biden received anonymous letters claiming — without providing any evidence — that Joe Biden was a pedophile and anyone who voted for him was condoning pedophilia.

4. Customer Spits on Old Town Coffee Shop Owner and Vandalizes Store After Being Asked to Wear a Mask (29,229 views)

Abyssinia Market owner Lily Damtew was harassed and ultimately spit on by a person who entered, refused to wear a mask, and mocked Damtew for following required COVID-19 restrictions.

3. BREAKING: Student Arrested at T.C. Williams for Double Homicide (35,922 views)

Mohamed Aly, a student at T.C. Williams High School, was arrested for the murders of Ntombo Joel Bianda, 21, and Ayanna Munne Maertens Griffin, 19. Earlier this month, Aly pleaded guilty to shooting both after they’d given him a ride to visit a friend in southern Virginia.

2. BREAKING: Barricade Situation, Suspect Firing on Police on Main Line Boulevard (59,823 views)

Police entered a full-day standoff in Potomac Yard after a woman opened fire on police. Police ultimately arrested a suspect around 3 a.m. after she fell asleep.

1. Activists Protest at Alexandria Home of Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf (60,924 views)

This summer, local activists — including City Councilman John Taylor Chapman — expressed outrage at the federal response to nationwide protests by rallying outside the Alexandria home of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Bilbo Baggins Now for Sale — “Longtime Alexandria restaurant and pub Bilbo Baggins has closed its doors for good. The cozy eatery, which opened in 1980, closed in the spring when COVID-19 first struck. Since then, the family-owned restaurant has not reopened and the nearly 4,000-square foot property is now for sale for $2.8 million.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Reminder: Illegal Starting Jan. 1 to Hold Cell Phone While Driving — “Starting January 1st, the ‘Hands-Free’ law will go into effect. The law makes it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.” [Twitter]

Goodwin House Residents and Staff Receive Vaccine — “Earlier today, some residents and staff at Goodwin House Alexandria received the vaccine. Before the end of 2020, it is estimated that 125 residents and employees will be vaccinated.” [Zebra]

What’s Open and Closed on New Year’s? — “A week after Christmas, residents will get another holiday with the arrival of 2021. Some services in Alexandria will be closed or modified for the New Year’s holiday.” [Patch]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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What a year, right?

Even though the fireworks, scavenger hunt and live musical performances have been called off, there are still opportunities to get a taste of Alexandria this New Year’s Eve.

Alexandria’s 26th annual First Night celebration has been modified due to COVID-19, and the health department is asking residents to stay home.

In the meantime, if you’re trying to remember/forget 2020, here is some New Year’s entertainment:

Food and Drink

No alcohol will be sold in Virginia past 10 p.m., and there are still tickets available for a number of in-person events.

These local restaurants have New Year’s deals:

  • Blackwall Hitch‘s $40 special includes 12 ounces of Black Angus prime rib, asparagus with lemon butter sauce, roasted rosemary potatoes, and a salad
  • Captain Gregory‘s is hosting a limited seating New Year’s Eve party
  • The Fish Market is open for takeout and in-person dining until 12:30 a.m.
  • Gadsby’s Tavern is offering in-person meals at 5:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
  • Hummingbird will be open for brunch and is serving dinner to-go
  • Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap is offering a $99 dinner for two with a $50 wine pairing
  • Le Refuge has dinner reservations available at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. for three and four-course meals with a glass of champagne
  • Magnolia’s On King has a $90 dinner and wine package for two and $160 package for four
  • Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub is offering to-go New Year’s packages
  • Northside 10 is offering all-you-can-eat oysters for $35 per person
  • Pork Barrel BBQ is featuring a $59.95 salmon dinner for four, which includes a five piece portion of house smoked salmon, two quarts of sides, cornbread and award-winning barbecue sauce
  • The Sushi Bar‘s $99.95 New Year’s Eve platter includes four house rolls, four signature rolls, salads and 12 ounces of sake
  • Tempo Restaurant has a $52 per person dinner package, which includes a three course dinner and drinks
  • Village Brauhaus will toast the German New Year at 6 p.m

Find more Alexandria restaurant offerings here.

Visit Alexandria also recommends that residents watch Wonder Woman 1984, which includes an action scene at what used to be one of the coolest places in town — Landmark Mall.

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In light of the worsening pandemic, the traditional First Night Alexandria festivities have been adapted to a hybrid drive-in and virtual experience.

The program will include pre-recorded comedy and musical programs projected onto a big movie screen.

“New this year, the 26th annual First Night Alexandria presents ‘A Night of Nostalgia,’ a New Year’s Eve drive-in and virtual concert experience for the entire family on December 31, 2020,” event organizers said in a press release. “First Night Alexandria, a capstone holiday event in Alexandria usually in the format of a live music and performing arts festival, adjusted its format to COVID-19, offering families and friends a safe and enjoyable experience to ring in the New Year.”

The family-friendly program is scheduled for New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) with an early show and a later one. The early program starts at 6:30 p.m. and promises to have the kids home by bedtime. A later program, at 9:30 p.m., will ring in the new year.

For the distanced drive-in experience, tickets are $60 per vehicle, which includes access to a food truck, a goody bag, prizes, access to the big-screen program and fireworks set to music. A $75 ticket gets a premium spot with early access, an enhanced goody bag, and an encore presentation of the show.

The virtual version is $20 with a link to the live-streamed program.

Image courtesy First Night Alexandria

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Ringing in the new year in Alexandria is going to be a virtual and in-person experience this time around.

On Thursday, First Night Alexandria announced that due to the coronavirus pandemic its 26th annual New Year’s Eve celebration will be a hybrid event. The alcohol-free event usually draws thousands of people who participate by attending concerts all over the city. Midnight is celebrated on the waterfront with a countdown and a fireworks show.

This year, however, organizers are planning on-site and a virtual concerts, and additional details are expected in the coming weeks.

“We invite you to join us as we support the greater community with curated entertainment that is designed for families and friends to gather safely, have fun and make memories,” said Marilyn Patterson, executive director of First Night Alexandria, in a statement. “Additionally, we’re excited to expand the reach of our audience and earn the opportunity to become part of their holiday legacy.”

Chris Reddick, the president of the First Night Alexandria Board of Directors, said the evening will be an unforgettable experience, regardless of whether families attend in-person.

“First Night Alexandria is the capstone of the holiday season for Alexandria and the entire DMV,” Reddick said. “Whether you attend in person or online, you will be glad you experienced First Night Alexandria, a regional treasure to be savored.”

BREAKING NEWS!First Night Alexandria 2020 is ON for New Year’s Eve!Save the Date. 12.31.20More details will be released in the coming weeks.Tell a friend.

Posted by First Night Alexandria on Thursday, October 1, 2020

Photo via First Night Alexandria/Facebook

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As Alexandrians are getting ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight, be aware that some city services will not be available on New Year’s Day.

Trash will be picked up today (Tuesday), but will not be picked up tomorrow (Wednesday). Trash collection services scheduled for Wednesday through Friday will be delayed by one day.

Libraries will close at 5 p.m. today and libraries, recreation centers, and the Torpedo Factory Art Center will all be closed on Wednesday, according to the city website.

As on Christmas, there’s no need to feed the meters on New Year’s Day. Metered parking restrictions will be lifted throughout the city, though this only applies to legal parking spaces and parking in no parking zones, loading zones, or spaces for persons with disabilities is all still prohibited.

DASH will operate its regular schedule today and will operate a special trolley service between the Durant Center (1605 Cameron Street) and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) from 5:30-11 p.m. tonight for First Night activities.

DASH buses will not be operating tomorrow, but the King Street Trolley will run on its regular schedule.

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