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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A day after declaring that vaccine booster shots were “not currently available,” Arlington started offering them.

“On Tuesday, August 17, Arlington County Public Health will begin offering an additional, or third, dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) to certain immunocompromised people,” Arlington County announced yesterday in a press release. “This follows FDA’s amended Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and the CDC’s adoption of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation.”

The vaccine booster shots are only available to those who attest that they qualify for them due to being moderately or severely immunocompromised. Those receiving the shots must also have already received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, with the last dose administered at least four weeks ago.

While currently restricted to only certain vulnerable individuals, booster shots are set to become widely available — and encouraged — this fall.

From NBC News:

Top U.S. health officials announced Wednesday that the country has developed a plan to start offering Covid-19 booster shots to all Americans beginning the third week of September, citing evidence that protection is waning not only against hospitalization and death, but also mild and moderate infections, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread.

Arlington County, meanwhile, has been upgraded to an area of “high” community spread of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The local transmission rate was deemed “substantial” by the CDC a couple of weeks ago.

As of Tuesday, neighboring Fairfax County and Alexandria were still seeing only “substantial” community transmission, a lower classification than “high,” according to the CDC website.

Arlington is recording about 33 new cases per day, or 14 daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a 7-day moving average published this morning by Virginia Dept. of Health.

More on the booster shots, below, from the Arlington County press release.

People who are immunocompromised should speak to their healthcare provider to help decide if they would benefit from an additional dose. Moderately to severely immunocompromised people include those who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
  • Individuals will be asked to self-attest (confirm) as having a qualifying condition at the time of vaccination.

Bring your vaccination card with you so your provider can fill in the information about your additional dose. Keep your vaccination card in case you need it for future use and consider taking a picture of your vaccination card as a backup copy.

At this time, an additional dose of vaccine is not approved for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or people who are fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised. The FDA and CDC continue to review evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of an additional dose for these individuals.

Arlington County encourages everyone 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine, especially those who are immunocompromised or have close contact with immunocompromised persons. Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) will only be offering additional doses for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals at the Arlington Mill Community Center and Walter Reed Community Center clinics; they will not be available at field missions or “pop-up” events at this time.

Free walk-in and scheduled appointments are available at ACPHD’s clinics. Additional opportunities can be found at vaccines.gov; confirm with individual providers the availability of additional, or third, doses.

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(Updated at 10:15 p.m.) President Joe Biden paid a visit to Arlington and the recently-renovated Lubber Run Park, in support of Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia gubernatorial bid.

A crowd of just under 3,000 well-wishers assembled feet from the doors of the Lubber Run Community Center, near Ballston, which just opened to the public earlier this month after serving as a vaccination site.

Biden’s motorcade arrived at the park at 6:50 p.m., after speeding past restaurants and onlookers in Arlington, according to a White House press pool report. There were “a couple dozen protesters” of various stripes outside the event, including those against fracking, oil pipelines, and abortion.

After arriving, Biden spoke with a group of DACA recipients, met with McAuliffe, and took photos with numerous state and local officials. He took the stage around 8 p.m. and spoke for about 30 minutes, highlighting his agreement with McAuliffe on just about every every issue.

The president talked about jobs, increasing the minimum wage, and veteran assistance, while also criticizing McAuliffe’s Republican opponent in the race, Glenn Youngkin. He also expressed concern about rising Covid numbers.

Biden complimented current Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam efforts in helping to “get shots in arms,” but said there’s still work to be done.

“What we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Biden said.

The president also noted, if McAuliffe is elected, he would once again be the First Lady Jill Biden’s boss, due to her being a professor at Northern Virginia Community College.

As the president spoke, uniformed Secret Service members with large binoculars watched over the crowd from the roof of the community center. At least one helicopter also buzzed overhead.

At one point, a group of hecklers started shouting something about a pipeline.

“This is not a Trump rally,” Biden said, according to the pool report. “Let ’em holler. No one’s paying attention.”

Prior to Biden and McAuliffe speaking, Dr. Leonard N. Smith, Senior Minister of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Green Valley, gave an invocation. McAuliffe later came out to Mark Morrison’s 1996 hit Return of the Mack before speaking for about 15 minutes. (“Returnofthemack” was also the event’s WiFi password.)

Other speakers included a bevy of Democrats: Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn, lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, Attorney General Mark Herring, Northam and Rep. Don Beyer.

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, County Board members Takis Karantonis and Katie Cristol, Arlington School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen, School Board member Monique O’Grady, Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, and Del. Alfonso Lopez were also in attendance.

“Welcome to Arlington, the healthiest county in Virginia,” Beyer, Arlington’s representative in Congress, declared when he spoke.

This, of course, isn’t the first — nor, likely, the last — time Biden has come across the Potomac, but this is the first time many locals can remember a president has come to their neighborhood.

Ray Payton lives in Buckingham and grew up nearby, graduating from Yorktown High School.

“I don’t know when a president has come to the neighborhood before,” Payton said earlier in the evening. “And I’ve been here all of my life.”

Balvinder Sehmi lives just a few doors down from the community center, in a house she’s lived in for 47 years. This is also the only insistence she can remember of a president stopping by.

“I’m surprised he’s here,” she said excitedly, above the din of the crowd. “I’m going to tell people he was at my house.”

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Morning Notes

Road Closures for Biden Event — “The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event. The following road closures will begin at 1:00pm: Park Drive from N. George Mason Drive to 3rd Street N., 3rd Street N. from N. Park Drive to N. Columbus Street. During the event, the following closure will also be in effect: George Mason Drive from N. Carlin Springs Road to N. Henderson Road.” [Arlington County]

Mahjong Bar Coming to Pentagon City — “Lo and Bun’d Up founder Scott Chung are taking the idea of post-dinner games one step further for their next business venture: Sparrow Room, a mahjong parlor and speakeasy-style dim sum bar tucked away behind Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row. During the day, patrons order Taiwanese-style gua bao stuffed with fried chicken or bulgogi beef at the fast-casual restaurant. Come evening, they can head to the dimly-lit, 42-seat bar for mahjong games, cocktails, and dim sum-style fare.” [Washingtonian]

In-Person Speakers Outnumber Virtual — “Two months after the Arlington County Board resumed in-person meetings, it appears members of the public are more comfortable showing up to voice their opinions. Of the 18 people signed up for the County Board’s July 17 ‘citizen comment’ portion kicking off the meeting, 13 were in-person speakers, the remainder checking in via Internet.” [Sun Gazette]

Fire Union Asks for Recognition — From the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association, following the County Board authorizing collective bargaining with employee groups: “Start the collective bargaining process. We have petitioned the county to recognize us as the union representing all firefighters and paramedics in Arlington.” [Press Release, Twitter]

Flights Still Down at DCA — “The number of scheduled outbound passenger flights departing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the third quarter of 2021 is expected to be down 35 percent from the same period in 2019 – among the biggest sustained downturns in the nation, but still a sign of incremental progress.” [Sun Gazette]

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President Joe Biden and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will be holding a “grassroots event” near Ballston on Friday.

The campaign event is being held at Lubber Run Park, next to the new Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive). Gates are slated to open at 5 p.m. for members of the public who RSVPed online to attend.

“President Biden and Terry will discuss Virginia Democrats’ commitment to creating good paying jobs, making health care more affordable and giving every Virginia child a world class education,” the McAuliffe campaign said in a press release.

The location was not initially revealed when the event was first announced last week.

McAuliffe, who formerly served as governor prior from 2014 to 2018, captured the Democratic nomination for another term last month. He is running against Republican nominee and businessman Glenn Youngkin.

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President Joe Biden is planning a visit to Arlington next week.

Biden will be visiting the county on Friday with former Virginia governor and current Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, according to McAuliffe’s campaign.

“On Friday, July 23, President Joe Biden will host a grassroots event with Terry McAuliffe in Arlington, Virginia,” says an RSVP page for the event. “President Biden and Terry will discuss Terry’s commitment to creating good-paying jobs, making health care more affordable, and giving every Virginia child a world-class education.”

The exact time and location of the campaign event has not been revealed.

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) President Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery this afternoon.

A week after the First Lady visited a nonprofit in Clarendon that supports military families, Biden is visiting Section 60 of the nation’s most hallowed ground, where servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.

The visit immediately followed a speech at the White House in which Biden said all remaining U.S. forces will be withdrawing from Afghanistan, starting Saturday, May 1. The withdraw is expected to be complete by Sept. 11.

Some roads near the cemetery, including the Memorial Bridge, were temporarily closed due to the presidential motorcade. The president arrived at the cemetery around 3 p.m. and departed about 20 minutes later.

During the brief visit, Biden walked past a row of headstones carrying an unopened umbrella, the grass wet amid a light rain. He saluted a wreath and said of the many headstones, “it’s hard to believe, isn’t it?”

He expressed amazement at the sacrifice of those “prepared to give their lives for their country,” generation after generation, and said in response to a reporter’s question that it was not a hard decision to end America’s longest war.

“For me it was absolutely clear,” the president said.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Call for Public Input in Police Chief Search — “The head of the Arlington branch of the NAACP wants the county government to include more public involvement as it prepares to select a new police chief… Community groups should ‘have the opportunity to participate throughout the entire selection process,’ Spain wrote. ‘Now more than ever, we need openness and transparency, and all candidates should understand the needs of the community.'” [Sun Gazette]

Reminder: Arlies Voting Now Underway — “Voting for the spring 2021 Arlies is now live! The Arlies are ARLnow’s community awards, highlighting Arlington’s favorite local places, people and organizations — as chosen by you.” Each season brings a new group of categories. [ARLnow, SurveyMonkey]

Arlington Homes Selling for Near Ask — “If Arlington homeowners appear to be getting a little too aggressive in setting listing prices for their homes, they are in good company. The same seems to be true for neighboring Alexandria and Falls Church, as well. For the first two months of the year, Arlington home-sellers garnered an average 98.47 percent of listing price.” [Sun Gazette]

Nearby: POTUS Visits Alexandria — “President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary today (Tuesday) just before he was scheduled to announce that states should open COVID-19 vaccination appointments to all adults by April 19. ‘We passed 150 million (vaccine doses distributed) yesterday,’ Biden said. ‘When you go home, get all your friends and tell them, ‘Get a shot when they can.”” [ALXnow, Twitter]

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President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan has added a glimmer of hope to those who would like to see an expanded Metrorail system.

The initial planning for the system in the 1960s envisioned a line down the Columbia Pike, ultimately terminating in Annandale, but the proposed line was nixed in order to save on costs. A physical remnant of the planning is a pair of stub tunnels near the Pentagon Metro station, built to accommodate a potential future Columbia Pike expansion.

Decades later, in 2019, Metro published the results of a study that suggested a number of ways to expand the capacity of the Metrorail network, including a second Rosslyn Metro station and tunnel, and a Silver Line expansion down the Pike and up Route 7.

Proposed new Silver Line Connection through Columbia Pike (via 2019 Metro study)

The possibility was especially enticing considering the disappointment of transit advocates following the 2014 cancellation of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line.

While Metro faces plenty of maintenance, service, budget and ridership challenges — the latter three exacerbated by the pandemic — that hasn’t stopped some from dreaming of a world in which more local residents are within easy walking distance of a light rail commute.

Among those discussing such a possibility, given the massive infrastructure spending that would result should Biden’s plan pass, are some of Arlington’s state lawmakers.

Even should the stars align and federal funding become available, digging up Columbia Pike and building a new Metrorail tunnel and stations would be fantastically expensive and would likely require a decade or more of planning and construction.

The new connectivity would also result in new development, sharply higher property prices, and other big changes, which could be viewed in a positive or a negative light, depending on your perspective.

What do you think about the idea of a Metro line on Columbia Pike?

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It was President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s day, but for many, it was former First Lady Michelle Obama who stole the spotlight at the Inauguration.

Wearing all burgundy and plum ensemble in an outfit by LA-based designer Sergio Hudson, her bouncy curls matched the day’s mood. Quickly after Obama’s grand entrance, it was revealed by NBC 4’s Jummy Olabanji that the hair stylist behind her look was Arlington’s Yene Damtew.

The 2015 grad of Arlington’s Marymount University owns Aesthetics Salon at 2444 26th Road S., near the Glebe Road exit of I-395.

Damatew was one of a number of Black entrepreneurs, along with Hudson and Christy Rilling who designed the couple’s masks, that Obama has continuously sought to highlight.

But Damtew has worked with the former First Lady for more than a decade, having also styled her hair during her time in the White House and for best-selling 2018 memoir, “Becoming.”

ARLnow asked Damtew via email about how she became the former First Lady’s go-to hairstylist, what it was like on that special day, and what business been like since word got out.

The interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

What’s the story behind styling Mrs. Obama’s hair for this inauguration? 

I have had a relationship with the Obamas since 2009. I was working for her then-stylist, Johnny Wright, and he brought me to the White House where I assisted with hair needs for the entire family.

Working in the White House for eight years was one of the highest honors of my life.

My relationship with Mrs. Obama has remained strong in her post-First Lady life. I’ve been blessed to stay on her style team along with my friends Carl Ray (makeup) and Meredith Koop (clothing). I did hair for her best-selling book “Becoming” and accompanied her on her two-year book tour across the world.

I consider her not just a client, but a friend and mentor.

What did you want to accomplish with her look? 

I do always keep in mind that America LOVES Mrs. Obama and she always makes headlines based on what she’s wearing and how her hair looks.

Today was a day about celebrating their good friends, the Bidens, and the first Black woman Vice President. I wanted her look to match the moment! Volume and curls seemed like the way to go and I’m glad so many people loved it.

How long did it take to style? 

I don’t talk specifics about any client, out of respect, but I’ve been doing hair long enough that I’m able to be very efficient!

I think I spent more time in the car navigating D.C. traffic and road shutdowns!

There were days in the White House and on the book tour where I would have to make changes very quickly. Once my client and I talk about what kind of look we want to create, it doesn’t take long.

Like with anything else the things that take the longest are sitting under the dryer with color treatments.

While it’s only been a few hours since the world found out, how has business been since? Is your salon being inundated with calls and appointments right now? 

It’s been overwhelming — in a good way!

Our website has been inundated with requests for appointments. We do everything via email, so our inbox is very full. We hope to get back to everyone by the end of the week. I

In only a few years, I’ve grown my salon from one building to two and have added several more stylists on staff.

Whether a client meets with me or one of my other stylists we want them to walk out of our doors feeling like they have the confidence they need to take on the day.

The Arlington community has been so wonderful and supportive to my salon. I graduated from Marymount University in Arlington and live in Arlington.

It was only right to have my business in Arlington, too.

Photo (top) via Aesthetics Salon

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Despite everything that transpired leading up to it, Inauguration Day saw a peaceful transfer of power as now-former President Donald Trump departed the White House and President Joe Biden was sworn in.

Overlooking it all from across the Potomac, Arlington played a bit part in pomp and circumstance.

Those with a vista across the river could catch a clear view this morning of President Trump departing the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One.

The inauguration ceremony that followed was devoid of members of the general public, as security and virus concerns closed the National Mall. Some who wanted to experience history unfold in person headed instead to the Marine Corps War Memorial, near Rosslyn.

A sizable security presence could be seen near the Rosslyn Metro station as the inauguration ceremony concluded and as President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — joined by former residents Clinton, Bush, Obama — headed via motorcade to Arlington National Cemetery.

Biden and Harris paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before heading back into D.C., via the Memorial Bridge, for their arrival at the White House.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report. Photos (as marked) by Jay Westcott, Joanna Hitt Kim and Kevin Wolf.

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Morning Notes

Arlingtonian to Join Administration — “President-elect Joe Biden said Monday he will nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as the top U.S. diplomat overseeing African affairs in the Obama administration, to be his ambassador to the United Nations.” Thomas-Greenfield is a long-time Arlington resident. [USA Today]

Arlington’s Average Income Falls — “The county’s weekly wage averaged $1,926 in the second quarter of 2020, according to figures reported Nov. 18 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up slightly more than 12 percent from the rate recorded a year before, but down from the $2,018 reported for the first quarter of 2020, which had placed Arlington in the rare company of just a handful of localities with incomes that high.” [InsideNova]

Police Investigating Stabbing Near the Pike — “At approximately 6:18 p.m. on November 20, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined the witness was running in the park when the victim approached him and fell to the ground. Medics arrived on scene, began treating the victim and determined he was suffering from a stab wound. He was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.” [ACPD]

Airport Construction Continues — “Anticipating the day passenger traffic returns to a semblance of normalcy, the new 14-gate concourse at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport continues to make progress toward a planned opening next year. The new concourse, attached as a pier off of Terminal C at the airport, is now fully enclosed, with half the passenger jet-bridges on site, according to a recent update from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.” [InsideNova]

Changes for Drivers at DCA — “Construction has reduced lanes on Baggage Claim (lower) level in front of Terminal B/C. Drivers should use any door on the Ticketing (upper) level to pick up and drop off holiday travelers. Taxis are still available downstairs.” [Twitter]

Thanksgiving Travel Tips from VSP — “This year overall, state police have seen fewer crashes on Virginia highways but those crashes have been more deadly. Making sure you are driving the posted speed limit, driving for conditions and wearing your seatbelt are the best ways to stay safe on the road.” [Press Release]

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