Arlington, VA

Arlington County is halting use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a federal warning about rare blood clots.

The temporary pause in use of the one-shot vaccine at county-operated vaccine clinics is “out of an abundance of caution,” Arlington County said in a statement this morning.

D.C., Maryland and other Virginia jurisdictions are also pausing administration of the J&J vaccine, after a recommendation from the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

“The CDC and FDA announced on Tuesday the review of data involving six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in individuals after they received the J&J vaccine,” Arlington County said. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. As of April 12, nearly 7 million doses of J&J have been administered in the United States.”

“All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination,” the CDC and FDA noted in a joint statement.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, federal officials said at least one person was in critical condition as a result of the clots. There is no evidence of similar reactions to the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they said. The pause is expected to last only a few days, and officials emphasized that the condition is serious, but exceedingly rare.

The county, meanwhile, says that those with appointments for J&J shots today will receive the Moderna vaccine instead.

“Individuals who have appointments Tuesday, April 13, at the Lubber Run Community Center, where Johnson and Johnson was being administered, will be offered the Moderna vaccine,” said the county statement. “The County will continue to hold clinics to the extent it receives available doses of Pfizer and Moderna over the next few days. Appointments may need to be rescheduled depending on whether the County receives additional doses of other vaccines or learns more about the status of the J&J vaccine.”

Arlington has accelerated its vaccination efforts recently thanks to more vaccine supply from the state, which is pushing to open appointments to the general public by next week. As of this morning, the county reached new seven-day highs for both vaccine shots administered and people fully vaccinated: an average of just over 2,700 shots per day and nearly 1,500 people fully vaccinated per day.

Nationally, the White House says it does not expect the pause in J&J shots to hinder its vaccination goals.

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(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) All lanes of northbound I-395 between Edsall Road and D.C. were shut down this morning for a funeral procession.

The body of fallen United States Capitol Police Officer William Evans was escorted to the U.S. Capitol, where he is set to lie in honor in the Rotunda.

Evans was killed on April 2 when a man intentionally rammed his car into a Capitol security barrier. He is the second officer to lie in honor at the Rotunda this year, after U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was killed as a result of the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.

Arlington County’s emergency management office said this morning that northbound I-395 will be temporarily closed, for a period of time between about 9:45-10:45 a.m. Arlington police are assisting with the escort.

“Please seek alternative routes,” the county said.

Last week another large law enforcement procession escorted Evans’ body from the D.C. medical examiner’s office to a funeral home in Falls Church, via I-66.

File photo

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Morning Notes

County Opening Free Testing Site Today — “Arlington County is opening a no-cost, no-appointment, COVID-19 testing kiosk in the parking lot at Courthouse Plaza in partnership with Curative, which operates two additional sites in the County. The kiosk will be open seven days a week from 12-8 p.m., starting Tuesday, April 13.” [Arlington County]

Fmr. Arlington Waiter Now a Real Estate Kingpin — “In 2013, Heider, then 25, was working at an Italian restaurant in Shirlington when his manager became the assistant to a local real-estate agent. When this agent moved to Washington Fine Properties, Heider’s former manager brought him on to help. As the assistant to the assistant, Heider worked without any base pay, making money only when he brought in referrals. At night, he waited tables at the Crystal City Morton’s.” [Washingtonian]

Kitchen Fire at Pike Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — Arlington County firefighters responded to a kitchen fire at the Dominion Towers apartments on Columbia Pike last night. No injuries were reported. [Twitter, Twitter]

Marymount Students Volunteering at Vax Clinic — “Since the start of the spring semester, students in Marymount University’s Nursing program have been using their classroom skills to serve as vaccinators in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic… [The students] are often on the team of registered nurses and EMS personnel who are on duty for vaccinations at the Lubber Run Community Center in Arlington.” [Marymount University]

YHS Finishes Football Season on Win Streak — “For the Yorktown Patriots, the shortened seven-game high-school football season was like two campaigns. There was the 0-2 beginning when the Patriots lost badly and struggled in all aspects of the game. Then there was the 5-0 finish, when Yorktown was vastly improved in all areas… Yorktown capped its season with a 24-15 victory over the T.C. Williams Titans.” [Sun Gazette]

Last Call: Vote in the Spring 2021 Arlies — Today is the last day to vote for your favorite local places, people and organizations in the spring edition of ARLnow’s Arlies awards. [SurveyMonkey]

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Arlington’s rate of new coronavirus cases is continuing to hold relatively steady, as vaccinations continue as an accelerated clip.

The trailing seven-day total of new reported cases in the county has not been above 300 since Feb. 17. It also has not dropped below 199. As of today, it stands at 243 weekly cases.

Arlingtonians are continuing to get very sick as a result of the virus. Eight new COVID-related hospitalizations have been reported over the past week. No new deaths have been reported over the past six days, however.

Amid a backdrop of continued infection, vaccinations in Arlington are proceeding relatively quickly.

Nearly 10,000 new vaccination doses have been administered since Friday. With more vaccine supply from the state, Arlington is administering an average of more than 2,500 doses per day, as it tries to complete its Phase 1B and 1C vaccinations before appointments are opened to the general public next week.

After trailing neighboring Alexandria on vaccination stats for most of the year, Arlington is now ahead of the city to our south in terms of percentage of the population that has received at least one vaccine shot: 34.2% for Arlington compared to 32.6% for Alexandria. But Alexandria still has a higher full vaccination rate and just today announced that it is opening vaccinations to all residents ages 16+.

Still, the number of people fully vaccinated in Arlington has risen dramatically over the past couple of weeks.

A total of 41,573 people have been fully vaccinated — with one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — in the county, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

At the rate of new reported full vaccinations over the past week, it would take just over four months to fully vaccinate the remainder of Arlington’s adult population.

Of course, while Arlington has one of the highest rates of vaccine interest in the nation — 92% according to one study — there are still residents who may be reluctant to get the jab. To help increase vaccination rates, Arlington County Board and School Board members, as well as other local officials and hundreds of volunteers, canvassed the county on Saturday.

“Core members of the [Arlington Complete Vaccination Committee], along with over 250 volunteers, will be canvassing the County to share information with as many people as possible, utilizing yard signs, local businesses, door hangers and more,” the county said in a media advisory before the Saturday “day of action.”

“The Arlington County Public Health Division encourages all Arlington County residents 16 years old and older to pre-register now for the COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for Phase 2 of Virginia’s vaccination plan,” the county said.

Photo (top) by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II

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The stalled plan to redevelop the site of Rappahannock Coffee on Columbia Pike is going back before the Arlington County Board.

Next week, the Board is set to consider a Use Permit Amendment for the already-approved redevelopment of 2400 Columbia Pike. The amendment “would result in the addition of 6,500 square feet of overall density and an increase of 15 residential units with preservation of existing building facades.”

The changes would also add 36 new parking spaces. The proposal is being made by a new developer, as Columbia Pike-based B.M. Smith is apparently no longer in the proverbial driver’s seat of the long-delayed project, which was first proposed in 2013 and approved in 2016.

“A new entity is now pursuing construction of the 2400 Columbia Pike development,” says a staff report to the County Board. “The new applicant believes the proposed enhancements to the development program are responsive to current market conditions and will facilitate swifter implementation of the project. The design changes, when considered individually may have triggered an administrative change or a minor use permit amendment, but when considered collectively, have been determined to be a major use permit amendment.”

With 15 units added on, the updated project would include 120 total residential units, in addition to 13,000 square feet ground floor space for retail and office, and two levels of underground parking.

The new developer appears to be a small local firm called YW Capital Development, based near Tysons.

“YW Capital Development is a minority-owned real estate development company based in the DC metro area,” the firm’s website says. “Our business focus is development of multifamily and mixed-use projects in urban settings. Our mission is to achieve the most efficient use of land and the best architectural design while maintaining the historic integrity of the neighborhood. Founded at the peak of the housing crisis in 2009, we have successfully completed a dozen projects in the DC metro area.”

The developer’s website touts 2400 Columbia Pike as being “minutes [from the] Pentagon and new Amazon HQ2.” A request for comment sent to an email address listed for the company bounced back as undeliverable.

Nearby residents have previously expressed concern about the proposed development’s displacement of local favorite Rappahannock Coffee, as well as other small businesses. The plan involves tearing down three low-slung commercial buildings, preserving the facades of two.

Another concern, according to the county staff report: noise and light.

“Several residents of the neighboring condominiums expressed concern about potential noise and light impacts from the proposed balconies, loading dock, surface parking area, and outdoor open space located in the southern portion of the site,” the staff report says.

Others are hoping the redevelopment could allow a new bicycle connection on the southern side of the Pike, with Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt recently calling it “a critical opportunity for a bike-able Pike.”

The County Board is set to consider the proposal at its meeting on Tuesday, April 20.

Photos via YW Capital Development

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Last week the Virginia General Assembly approved a marijuana legalization law that will take effect this summer.

Yes, come July 1, you can legally possess, cultivate and share small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Regulated, commercial sales of cannabis products are not set to take place in Virginia until 2024 under the legislation.

When we asked ARLnow readers what you thought about marijuana legalization in the Commonwealth, about 85% of respondents said they supported it, either this summer or a few years from now, as originally proposed. (Gov. Ralph Northam sent the bill back to the General Assembly to move up the timeline for legalization to July.)

Given the support for legalization, we were wondering how many readers were actually planning to partake in the newly-legal weed.

Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

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Morning Notes

New Irish Pub Now Open in Pentagon City — “If your notion of an Irish pub is a static menu of fish n’ chips in a shamrock-decked bar, chef Cathal Armstrong wants to change that perception with Mattie and Eddie’s. The James Beard-anointed chef, who championed seasonal Irish cooking over 14 years at Alexandria’s Restaurant Eve, just opened the gastropub with a large outdoor patio in Pentagon City.” [Washingtonian]

Extended Power Outage in Barcroft — A driver crashed into a utility pole at S. Buchanan Street and 6th Street S. in the Barcroft neighborhood Sunday, initially knocking out power to thousands. Hundreds of homes were still in the dark until early this morning. [Twitter]

Candidate Comes Out Swinging At Dem Meeting — “[Chanda] Choun, who is attempting to unseat sitting Democrat Takis Karantonis in a June primary, did not pull many punches in an April 7 kickoff speech before the Arlington County Democratic Committee rank-and-file. ‘Takis was not the best candidate to represent Arlington’ during a politically and racially charged era, Choun said… If elected, Choun said he would be an elected official who ‘goes beyond the platitudes and buzzwords’ to promote an aggressively left-leaning agenda. One example: Choun said he wanted the county to establish a ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ to focus on equity issues.” [Sun Gazette]

School Board Advances Budget Proposal — “The School Board adopted its FY 2022 Proposed Budget at its April 8 meeting. The proposed budget expenditures total $699,919,805. The School Board amended the Superintendent’s FY22 Revised Proposed Budget by reducing the budgeted expenditures by $6,796,056 and 35.00 FTE and replacing the 2% cost of living adjustment with Compensation Option 1. Compensation Option 1 provides different compensation models by employee scale to ensure that every employee in the school division receives a compensation increase.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Pentagon Police Officer Faces Murder Charges — “Takoma Park police have charged the off-duty Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer they say shot and killed two men Wednesday morning in Montgomery County, Maryland. The officer has also been charged for an alleged assault that happened last year. David Hall Dixon, of Takoma Park, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of use of a handgun in commission of a felony and reckless endangerment.” [WTOP]

Don’t Hang Up on 911 — From Arlington County: “Oops, did you call 911 by mistake? It’s OK, just stay on the line and tell the friendly dispatcher it was an accident. That way, they can confirm there’s no emergency… Otherwise, we’ll have to call you back, taking away a dispatcher who could help someone who needs it.” [Twitter]

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ARLnow Weekend Discussion

It’s a soggy start to what should be at least a half-decent weather weekend.

The past five days haven’t been the busiest for Arlington local news, but there still have been some big stories nonetheless. Below are the most-read ARLnow articles of the past week.

  1. Police: Woman Danced on Car, Exposed Herself in Crystal City
  2. New Ballston Restaurant Aims for May 1 Opening Day
  3. Arlington Is Entering Vaccination Phase 1C
  4. State Sending More Vaccine to Arlington, County Says
  5. Developer Proposes New Retail Plaza in Crystal City
  6. Crystal City Water Park Getting ‘Sip and Stroll’ Alcohol Permit
  7. First Lady Jill Biden is Visiting Arlington
  8. Updated Stormwater Regs Could Add Cost, Aboveground Tanks to New Homes
  9. Morning Poll: Metro on Columbia Pike?
  10. What’s Next: An Ode to Whitlow’s

Feel free to discuss those stories, or anything else of local interest, in the comments. Have a great weekend, Arlington!

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Carter Glass, delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-02. (Image via Library of Congress)

Lyon’s Legacy is a limited-run opinion column on the history of housing in Arlington. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

“Discrimination! Why that is exactly what we propose… That exactly is what this convention was elected for — to discriminate to the very extremity of permissible action under the limitation of the federal Constitution, with the view to the elimination of every Negro voter who can be gotten rid of.”

Carter Glass, Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1902

Arlington wasn’t always white. Before 1900, the population of the county was nearly 40% African-American. By 1950, it was less than 5%. Today, the number is still less than 10%.

This is the third part of Lyon’s Legacy, a biweekly series on ARLnow (you can read the whole thing, with citations, here). It will tell an eight-part history of how Black people, and other groups that experience racial or economic discrimination, have been excluded from living in Arlington County. Last week, the story told who Frank Lyon was and what he found when he arrived in the county. This week, it will tell how he began to leave his mark.

In 1901, Frank Lyon and Crandal Mackey travelled to Norfolk to attend the Virginia Commonwealth Constitutional Convention. As at similar conventions across the South, the convention’s leaders hoped to use the resurgent power of white Democrats to upend the Reconstruction-era constitution that had enfranchised Black citizens.

Lyon served as Clerk of the Committee; Mackey was one of our county’s delegates. In Norfolk, they heard Senator Carter Glass say that the “white race” held the “divine imprimatur of that intellectual and racial supremacy which gave them the exclusive right of government.” Glass’s new constitution was about to give Lyon and Mackey just the advantage they needed to reshape our county in the convention’s vision of “racial supremacy.”

The 1902 Virginia constitution was imposed without popular approval and it systematically disenfranchised African Americans across Virginia. A poll tax was levied. Land ownership was made a condition for voting. The statewide electorate was cut in half. Jim Crow reigned. The new constitution remained in place until 1971.

Across the nation, the Progressive movement brought reforms at the turn of the century. It fought political corruption, regulated labor standards, and modernized the schools. But: “The blind spot in the Southern progressive record — as, for that matter, in the national movement — was the Negro, for the whole movement in the South coincided paradoxically with the crest in the rise of racism. The typical progressive reformer rode to power in the South on a disenfranchising or white supremacy movement.”

Crandal Mackey, and the rest of the Good Citizens’ League, was no exception.

A year after the constitutional convention, Mackey ran for Commonwealth’s Attorney. The incumbent, Richard Johnston, was a white landowner whose family sold a neighborhood’s worth of land to the county’s Black residents. Mackey took on Johnston in an election with heavy racial overtones.

“The reduction of the negro vote… under the new Virginia constitution, helped Mackey wonderfully,” wrote the Washington Times. He won by two votes.

Frank Lyon didn’t run for office. He bought the county’s preeminent weekly newspaper, the Alexandria County Monitor. As the historian Lindsey Bestebreurtje describes, “under Lyon’s leadership as owner and editor, The Monitor pushed League policies and opinions.” He built an image of Alexandria County as a desirable suburban retreat for Washington’s growing upper-middle class. He also built an image of Black people and saloons as obstacles to progress.

Read More

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In the Before Times, when neither COVID-19 nor National Landing were part of the local lexicon, Crystal City would host a series of springtime races dubbed 5K Fridays.

The weekly races would attract thousands of runners. Alas, despite vaccinations quickening, gatherings of thousands of people in a relatively concentrated area remain frowned upon outside of sports stadiums.

Thus, to continue the 5K tradition in a more scaled-back fashion, the now-National Landing Business Improvement District is hosting a single event next month dubbed the Great Inflatable Race.

As the name suggests, participants are being encouraged to come “dressed in your wackiest summer inflatable attire.”

Only 250 participants will be able to register, and even then runners will start the race in waves and will be required to wear masks “at the start and finish lines and while passing within 10 feet of other runners.”

The race is scheduled for Friday, May 7 at 6 p.m., kicking off from the “Courtyard Green” at 2121 Crystal Drive.

Packet pickup will take place at the Pacers Running store in Old Town Alexandria the Sunday afternoon before the race.

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Morning Notes

Sentencing in Arlington Cold Case — “A Virginia cold case closed Thursday as Jose Rodriguez-Cruz was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Stafford County for the killing of his wife. Marta Rodriguez went missing from Arlington in 1989, when her son, Hansel Rodriguez, was just four years old… ‘It almost felt like I was able to breathe for the first time in many years,’ said Hansel, now 36.” [NBC 4]

Wheel Theft Spree Along Columbia Pike — “On April 7, police responded to multiple reports of larcenies from auto. The investigations determined that between 6:30 p.m. on April 6 and 7:35 a.m. April 7, the suspect(s) removed all four tires and rims from the four victim vehicles. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]

DCA Traveler Traffic Recovering — “The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that passenger originations at Reagan National were down 68.9 percent in March compared to the pre-pandemic March 2019. In a way, that’s positive news – Reagan National typically has been down 80 percent even as airports in other parts of the country have started to see rebounds.” [Sun Gazette]

ACFD Salutes Fallen Officer — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “[On Wednesday] we detailed crews along the I-66 overpasses to salute fallen @CapitolPolice Officer Billy Evans as his procession passed through @ArlingtonVA. Doing this twice within a few months hurts. We’re keeping Officer Evan’s family and the USCP in our thoughts & prayers.” [Twitter]

Firefighters Push for Higher Pay Updated at 8:45 a.m. — “Brian Lynch, president of the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association (APFPA), called on the Arlington County Board Tuesday to implement a pay increase for county firefighters when it adopts the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. ‘Being firefighters has always meant risking our lives for others,’ Lynch said, during a Tuesday night public hearing.” [Patch]

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