Arlington, VA

As the global coronavirus outbreak spreads and the stock market sinks, both Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools are ramping up their public outreach on the disease.

While there are no confirmed cases locally, and only one “possible” case being investigated in Northern Virginia, local governments, agencies, hospitals and schools throughout the D.C. region are continuing to make emergency preparations.

This morning APS sent parents an update on its preps for a possible local outbreak of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

APS says it is “monitoring new developments and following the guidance of health officials,” as well as continuing “to monitor student health and absentee rates at all schools.” It is also encouraging students and staff to frequently wash their hands and to stay home when sick.

In the letter, school officials hint at plans to keep educating students in the event schools need to temporarily close.

“APS is reviewing our existing plans and procedures for communicable diseases and responding accordingly based on recommendations from health officials,” the letter says. “Our planning for COVID-19 is focused on specific steps necessary to maintain a safe environment for students and staff and to ensure we are well equipped and prepared to continue to educate students, in the event of a change in operations.”

Arlington County, meanwhile, has been updating its coronavirus information page and posting information on social media. Late last month county health officials said they were preparing for a worst-case scenario.

Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said today that residents can expect to hear more public health information from the county next week. A disease outbreak on this scale is something the county has been preparing for, she said.

“This is something we’ve been looking at for a long time — what do you do when you have a pandemic,” Garvey told ARLnow. “Stay tuned.”

Garvey also passed along some initial advice for residents.

“If you have not signed up for Arlington Alerts, please do so,” she said, “and everyone should be washing their hands, a lot.”

The county website details steps Arlington’s health department is taking to prevent COVID-19 here:

What is ACPHD doing to prevent the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) in the community?

  • ACPHD staff are contacting, assessing and monitoring any returning travelers from areas affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • ACPHD is providing guidance to our government and community partners to respond to this outbreak.
  • ACPHD staff continue to update hospital and healthcare communities with guidance on how to identify and respond to possible cases.
  • ACPHD will arrange appropriate lab testing.
  • If there are any cases in Arlington, ACPHD staff will follow CDC guidance about identifying and monitoring close contacts of a case.
  • Staff are available 24/7 to provide this support.

At last check, there were 62 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

File hoto by CDC on Unsplash

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