Virginia will enter Phase 2 of its reopening on Friday, but Northern Virginia and Richmond will remain in Phase 1.
Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, saying that key health metrics point to it being safe to further reopen in most parts of the state. He did not, however, give a timeline for when Northern Virginia — including Arlington — would advance in its reopening. The region started to reopen this past Friday, May 29, two weeks after much of the Commonwealth did.
Under the Phase 2 guidelines, the allowed size of social gatherings will increase from 10 to 50, restaurants will be allowed to open indoor dining areas at 50% capacity, and fitness centers can reopen at 30% capacity. Under Phase 1 guidelines, both restaurants and fitness businesses can only serve customers outdoors.
Northam said delaying Phase 2 for Northern Virginia will “allow for additional monitoring of health data.” As of Tuesday, Arlington has reported 236 new coronavirus cases and 10 new hospitalizations over the past seven days.
More from a press release from the governor’s office, below.
Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Sixty-Five and presented the second phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue safely and gradually easing public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Governor also amended Executive Order Sixty-One directing Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond to remain in Phase One.
Most of Virginia is expected to enter Phase Two on Friday, June 5, as key statewide health metrics continue to show positive signs. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to trend downward as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the indicators laid out in April.
“Because of our collective efforts, Virginia has made tremendous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives,” said Governor Northam. “Please continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigilant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our Commonwealth.”
Executive Order Sixty-Five modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Sixty-One and Sixty-Two and establishes guidelines for Phase Two. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond entered Phase One on Friday, May 29, and will remain in Phase One to allow for additional monitoring of health data. Accomack County delayed reopening due to outbreaks in poultry plants, which have largely been controlled through rigorous testing. Accomack County will move to Phase Two with the rest of the Commonwealth, on Friday, June 5.
Under Phase Two, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50 people. All businesses should still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures.
Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment venues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.
The current guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two. Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals will also remain closed in Phase Two.
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Hundreds of protesters marched from Ballston to the Clarendon Metro station Tuesday afternoon, a peaceful demonstration in memory of George Floyd.
Protesters marched along Fairfax Drive, chanting “I can’t breathe,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “no justice, no peace.” They also held signs: “silence is violence,” “justice for George Floyd,” and more.
After arriving in Clarendon, the demonstrators held a moment of silence, with each kneeling and raising a fist.
The protest started at 2 p.m. and was still on-going in Clarendon as of 3:30 p.m. Arlington County Police motorcycle officers accompanied the marchers, stopping vehicular traffic with rolling road blocks. Wilson Blvd is currently closed near the Clarendon Metro station.
This is at least the third large, peaceful protest held in Arlington since Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers, one of whom has been charged with murder. Protesters marched from Shirlington to Ballston on Sunday and hundreds of interfaith demonstrators lined George Mason Drive last night.
— Danny (@OfficialDRK) June 2, 2020
— dcitty (@dcitty) June 2, 2020
— Emily P (@EmmeryPaoull) June 2, 2020
The first step towards reopening will be a book pick-up from the Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).
“Starting mid-June, Arlington Public Library will offer a walk-in/walk-out service for hold pickups and book bundles in the auditorium at Central Library,” Diane Kresh, Director of the Arlington Public Library said. “Operating hours for the holds pickup service are being decided and we will communicate details as we have them. Computers, self-check stations, and meeting rooms will not be available for use.”
“All branch locations will remain closed,” Kresh added. “Returns will be accepted via book drop at all branches.”
Both patrons and staff will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing at all times when inside the library building.
Arlington Public Library will continue its annual Summer Reading Challenge, Kresh said, though this year the program will be fully digital. Kresh said more details about that program will be forthcoming this week.
“Arlington READS continues virtually,” Kresh said. “In June, we will host a conversation with Brooke Gladstone, journalist, author, media analyst, and co-host and managing editor of the WNYC radio program ‘On the Media.’ And in July, we are thrilled to present Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Colson Whitehead (‘The Underground Railroad’ and ‘The Nickel Boys’). Stay tuned for details; both programs promise to be lively and engaging.”
Kresh said she knows that the planned reopening is not the kind of library experience many Arlington residents are hoping to return to.
“We recognize there is no replacement for an in-person, full-service library experience,” Kresh said. “Over the years, the staff and I have been honored to serve the community of Arlington and have always tried to strike a balance between the high tech of our digital content and the high touch of our popular story times and author events. We cherish the relationships we have developed with each one of you and look forward to better times. Please know that we are thinking of all of you and that together, we will get through this.”
We appreciate all the essential staff that are working around the clock to help the community and want to give back. Homesavey Real Estate will be donating our commission to cover all closing costs for essential workers in our community.
We also recognize that buying a home is no easy task, especially during a pandemic. Homesavey wants to make sure that essential workers looking for a home at this time get the support they need throughout a home purchase. Now, more than ever, home has become a safe haven for many and we’d like to help out where we can.
Arlington County is planning to start regular testing of public safety personnel and critical employees, ARLnow has learned.
The county has acquired a rapid testing machine, which is currently undergoing a certification process. Once its accuracy is certified, it will be used to regularly test law enforcement, fire department and emergency communications personnel, as well as public health and other critical county employees.
Aaron Miller, the county’s Director of Public Safety Communications & Emergency Management, tells ARLnow that dozens of public safety personnel were quarantined at one point last month due to possible exposure to the coronavirus. At least one firefighter, and potentially several more, had tested positive for the virus in by late April. Previously, county officials declined to provide figures about quarantine levels among first responders.
In a written statement, Miller emphasized that the quarantines did not result in a reduction of emergency services in the county.
Arlington County has obtained a quantity of Mesa Biotech’s Accula SARS-Cov-2 Tests, an FDA-approved “rapid” molecular PCR test cleared for use in patient care settings outside of the clinical laboratory environment. The rapid testing system is currently under laboratory-required validation with known positive and negative samples. Once the validation is completed, we plan to develop a testing strategy for approval by the Public Health Department. First responder testing will allow quick diagnosis of police, fire, sheriff, 9-1-1, and public health personnel, as well as other critical employees who are experience symptoms while on or off duty. Testing should be available during the first part of June.
The number of firefighters, police officers, and sheriff’s deputies in quarantine fluctuated during May. The total number ranged from single digits into the forties. Following the Public Health Department’s direction, each case is investigated, testing ordered as appropriate, and the length of quarantine or isolation is determined in consultation with physicians and public health specialists. The safety of our personnel and their families is a top priority. Regardless of the number of quarantines, the levels of emergency or preventive services has not decreased for Arlington County. The County is always monitoring its workforce capacity and continues to maintain staffing levels for the services needed for Arlington residents.
In addition, County takes many steps to protect its essential workers. This includes providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to all frontline employees, increasing cleaning of facilities and equipment, quarantining employees who may have been exposed, modifying services to limit interactions between staff and promote social distancing, and implementing rotational schedules or extended hours to ensure high-priority essential services continue.
During the interview, Garvey said she was concerned that Virginia might have to go back to a stay-at-home order if the current Phase 1 reopening results in additional virus spread.
“I think it’s a really good question as to whether we’ll be able to stay in this phase or move back,” she said. “I’m pretty confident here in Arlington, we’re continuing to see it’s kind of level, but not great — the virus is still here.”
Garvey was also asked about the relative paucity of testing in Arlington, which has since increased, at least temporarily. She said part of the blame falls on the state government for continuing to require that those seeking testing have a doctor’s note and symptoms. Such testing does not catch COVID cases among asymptomatic spreaders, who have the virus but don’t have the symptoms.
Reuben Varghese, Arlington’s Public Health Director, tells ARLnow that the directive mostly affects county-run sites, like the drive-through testing site near Washington-Liberty High School and the walk-up site along Columbia Pike. He said he hopes to work with the state to conduct more mass-testing events that do not require a doctor’s note.
“At this time, [Virginia Dept. of Health] guidelines still require a doctor’s order for most sample collections being done in Arlington County, such as at the Quincy and Arlington Mill sites, and there are no plans to change those guidelines at County-partnered sites,” he said. “However, at the larger community testing events, such as the one on May 26 at Barcroft, no appointment or doctor’s referral was needed. Given the overwhelming response to that site and to others like it around the region, we would expect the Commonwealth to continue these types of testing efforts. However, at this time, another event has not been scheduled here in Arlington.”
In Arlington, meanwhile, the number of new reported cases has remained low for a fourth consecutive day. Ten new cases and one new hospitalization was reported overnight, for a cumulative total of 2,133 cases, 377 hospitalizations and 117 deaths.
Arlington’s seven-day test positivity rate has fallen below 10% for the first time since mid-March, as the local outbreak began. The positivity rate, as reported by the state health department, currently stands at 9.5%.
“Today may we all rally to the side of justice for the victims, to the side of using peaceful protests to effect change, and to stand against those who would use this tragedy as an excuse for violence, destruction and further division.”
Yesterday in the Progressive Voice, Delegate Rip Sullivan opined on the “virtues” of voting by mail. For Sullivan, first it was gerrymandering that made our elections unfair. Then it was having to show a government issued ID, free if you need it, to prove you were who you say you were.
Now voting in person is on his radar to be eliminated. What will it be next? Maybe voting by mail will be too hard because it requires someone to walk to the mailbox, so we should let them vote with two clicks on a smartphone?
We should ask ourselves if we want to make it harder and harder to identify who is actually casting the votes in elections?
In California, it is legal for someone to submit your ballot for you. Volunteers can pick up hundreds of ballots and drop them off with local election offices with no accountability in between. You may have read about this, it is known as ballot harvesting. In an April story, one Democrat strategist even suggested they would come and take ballots out of mailboxes.
What would Delegate Sullivan say about that? Where would he draw the line?
For those with health concerns about voting in the Arlington County Board special election in July or the general election in November, our absentee voting system will accommodate you. Right now you can vote in person in advance, or you can vote by requesting an absentee ballot by mail. In the fall, you will not even need to provide a reason at all. You can just vote early because you feel like it.
Delegate Sullivan suggests he supports moving to all mail-in voting permanently. However, mailing a ballot to every registered voter on a list is problematic in an of itself. Voter registration lists, like any mailing list, are always out-of-date. People move, and sadly, people die. We would unnecessarily be opening ourselves up to fraud when it is already relatively easy to vote now.
Voting is both a right and a privilege. In fact it is one of the most sacred rights we have in this country. At the same time, you are not required to participate. Many people do not vote because they feel like they have no real choice, or that they feel like politicians on both sides have failed them. That is their right too.
But, your elected officials have an obligation to make it both accessible and secure for all those who do chose to participate. It should be accessible to those who are eligible to vote and secure to make sure those votes are not watered down by anyone who wishes to commit fraud.
Mark Kelly is a long-time Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!
Question: I just lost a competitive offer to an all-cash buyer. How common are cash buyers in Arlington? How much of a disadvantage am I at?
Answer: I have personally noticed an increase in cash buyers and expected to find a significant increase in the number of cash deals over the last 12-18 months, so I was a little surprised when I ran the numbers and learned that the percentage of homes purchased by all-cash buyers has only increased a few percent in the last couple of years. Since 2019, 17.5% of homes purchased in Arlington have been by all-cash buyers, compared to 14.3% in 2017.
Increased Cash Deals Attributed to Condo Sales
The number of cash purchases in Arlington jumped in 2018 and 2019, likely due to more cash investors getting involved after the Amazon HQ2 announcement in November 2018. This increase is attributed completely to condos (likely investors). The number of buyers paying cash for single-family or townhouse purchases has remained about the same since 2015.
The rate of all-cash purchases seems to be spread pretty evenly across all price-points and housing types. I assumed that the lower priced condos would have a much higher rate of all-cash deals, but it turns out that since 2019 only 20.5% of sub-$400k condo purchases were all-cash, which isn’t much higher than the overall Arlington market.
The chart below shows the percentage of homes sold in Arlington that were bought by all-cash buyers since 2015, also broken out by condo and single-family/townhouse purchases.
Cash vs Mortgage — What’s the Difference?
The idea of getting a cash offer sounds exciting, but what exactly does it mean? After all, a dollar from a lender is worth the same as a dollar from a savings account.
- Contingencies: Cash buyers don’t need the contractual protection of a financing or appraisal contingency because they don’t need a lender to approve/review anything. This is appealing for sellers because it decreases the possibility of something going wrong that disrupts the sale.
- Speed: Cash deals can close faster, often in one week or less, than financed deals which usually take at least 3-4 weeks due to the time it takes to process the loan.
- Security: Cash deals are considered more secure because the purchase funds are already available.
- Cost: Cash deals have lower buyer closing costs because there are no lender fees or lender’s title insurance. Lenders also require a substantial about (usually 1-1.5% of purchase price) of money be pre-paid into an escrow account for future property tax payments and homeowner’s insurance.
Given how competitive the current housing market is, many buyers using a mortgage take steps to make their offers as cash-like as possible by removing the appraisal and financing contingencies and/or working with lenders who can close quickly. For buyers that have taken these steps, there’s very little difference to sellers between their offer and a cash offer.
If you are a seller considering a cash offer, make sure you verify the existence of the cash funds the same way you would verify a buyer’s mortgage qualification with a pre-approval letter. The most common method of verification is to request bank statements, but a letter from the buyer’s bank should also suffice.
If you’d like to discuss buying or selling strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].
If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.
Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr. #10C Arlington, VA 22203, (703) 390-9460.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A teenager was allegedly behind the wheel of a car that struck a 10-year-old girl and killed her dog in Arlington’s Donaldson Run neighborhood.
Police confirmed this morning that “the suspected driver has been located.”
Photos sent to ARLnow on Monday show police behind a black Chrysler 200 sedan, with temporary Virginia tags, matching the description of the vehicle involved in the Friday afternoon crash. The photo was taken near Yorktown High School, at the intersection of Yorktown Blvd and Little Falls Road.
“The investigation is ongoing and charges are anticipated at a later date,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “In accordance with Virginia law, the suspect’s identity is not releasable due to age.”
Video sent to us by the victim’s family (below) shows the car quickly driving up N. Upshur Street around the time of the incident. The victim’s mother posted publicly on Facebook about how “our world was split open” as a result of the crash.
“Some reckless and selfish person in a black sedan racing down a quiet Donaldson Run residential street hit my 10-yr old daughter and our puppy at the corner of N. Upshur St. and N. Vermont St.,” she posted on Friday. “She did what she always does. Look left and right conscientiously.”
“The car hit our little Peanut leaving him in a pool of blood while she was luckily able to leap out of the way,” the mother continued. “In that moment, he could’ve ripped apart our world even further and killed her. It’s gut-wrenching enough that the sweetest puppy we’ve ever had was simply murdered. Gone in an instant. The driver didn’t blink an eye. Didn’t stop.”
Though the girl’s injuries were considered minor at the time, she was subsequently hospitalized over the weekend after an onset of lower body pain, ARLnow has learned.
Photos courtesy anonymous
The front of a CVS store along Columbia Pike was smashed overnight in what police say was a burglary attempt.
The driver of a car ran into the entrance to the store near Penrose Square, at 2601 Columbia Pike, in the wee hours of the morning. It’s unclear if anything was stolen. The vehicle was found abandoned nearby and the suspect remains at large.
“At approximately 3:32 a.m. on June 2, police were dispatched to the report of a single vehicle crash into a building,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “The vehicle fled the scene prior to police arrival but was located unoccupied in the 2600 block of 12th Street S. At the time of the report, it was unknown if anything was stolen from the business. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.”
This morning customers could be seen doing their shopping inside the store, despite the mangled entrance.
Are you considering selling your home? Are you somewhat unsure how COVID is affecting the market and the selling process? In this engaging session, we will discuss what you will need to do to ensure your property is in the best shape possible to draw in the most traffic and get you offers quickly while COVID concerns linger.
COVID has absolutely created challenges in its wake, but that doesn’t mean that opportunity has been lost. Learn easy tricks to sell for more in less time. Now is not the time for old school realtor tactics… It’s time for innovation, technology and nimbleness.