Arlington, VA

(Updated at 11 a.m.) COVID-19 vaccinations have reached a new peak in Arlington, but the effort has led to lines at one county vaccination site.

Nearly 5,000 doses have been administered in Arlington over the past four days, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The seven-day trailing average of doses administered is now just shy of 900 per day, a new record for the county.

In all, 20,675 doses have been administered, and 4,495 people have been fully vaccinated in Arlington, according to VDH data. The latter represents about 2% of the county’s population.

On Friday and Saturday, those eligible to be vaccinated under Virginia’s Phase 1b group — many of them elderly — flocked to the Arlington County Dept. of Human Services building at Sequoia Plaza (2110 Washington Blvd) to receive their vaccination shots. That led to some reports of crowding.

“Waiting in an outrageous line with my 80 year father to get his COVID vaccine,” one tipster told ARLnow on Friday. “His appointment was for 1:45 p.m. — and the 1:30 group [is] still wrapped around the parking lot. These are ELDERLY PEOPLE standing around for 30+ minutes… maybe 2 or 3 chairs among the entire group. Unacceptable.”

On Saturday morning, the crowding apparently was such that Arlington Transit buses were rerouted in order to avoid the area.

Cara O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the county’s health division, said the lines were the result of a full vaccination schedule, people showing up early to their appointments, the need for social distancing, and other factors.

“It’s taking us a bit longer to process all of our clients today, as it’s a full schedule,” O’Donnell told ARLnow on Saturday. “Quite a few require additional assistance and we’re careful to ensure we take the time we need with each client. From what I’m hearing, that’s leading to some car backups. Our staff and volunteers are working to get through as efficiently as we can.”

Arlington County is getting 2,750 first vaccine doses per week from the state, O’Donnell said. Many of the other doses being reported by VDH are second doses. Virginia Hospital Center and other hospitals are no longer receiving first doses from the Commonwealth, but hospitals still have second doses on hand.

“VHC has been very intentional in managing our existing vaccine supply to ensure that all individuals who received a first dose through VHC will receive their second,” a hospital spokesperson told ARLnow on Friday. “The Hospital is continuing to provide second doses to individuals at our community vaccine clinic, to Arlington Free Clinic patients, and to those staff and healthcare workers who received their first dose at Virginia Hospital Center.”

In all, about 2,000 of the doses administered in Arlington over the past four days have been second doses. There are more awaiting eager arms: Arlington has received 32,825 doses, according to the state health department, meaning 12,150 doses have yet to be administered.

“Available data from scientific studies of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continue to support the use of two doses of each authorized vaccine at specified intervals,” the hospital spokesperson said. “The use of one dose administration is not supported by adequate scientific evidence at this time.”

The quickened pace of vaccinations comes amid a backdrop of Arlington’s coronavirus caseload remaining in the 400-600 cases per week range.

Just under 500 new cases have been reported over the past week, bringing the cumulative total of confirmed cases in Arlington to 12,262 as of Monday morning. Six additional deaths and 13 hospitalizations have been reported over the past week, bringing the county’s pandemic total to 207 deaths and 742 hospitalizations.

Arlington’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, has been declining over the past couple of weeks and currently stands at 6.1%.

While vaccine supply remains constrained, some health experts are encouraging officials to start planning for an abundance of vaccine supply in the spring, as tens of millions of additional doses become available.

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With cabin fever setting in after weeks of mostly staying at home, large crowds gathered yesterday, on Cinco de Mayo, to pick up to-go tacos, margaritas and other Mexican fare at restaurants across Arlington.

Among the popular spots: Uncle Julio’s in Ballston, District Taco in Rosslyn, Guapo’s in Shirlington, and TTT and Don Tito in Clarendon. For some, it was a welcome boost for some local businesses. For others, it was an unnecessary danger.

“What a nightmare,” one social media user said.

While some worried about an increased coronavirus risk, those who gathered did so outdoors and appeared to be mostly keeping the recommended six-foot distance from one another, while many wore masks. It was a bit of a different story in D.C., as more crowded conditions on sidewalks prompted police responses.

More photos of the Arlington crowds via social media:

Photo courtesy John B.

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) Arlington County Police are now on scene of a big traffic jam on Columbia Pike reportedly caused by a food giveaway.

Initial reports suggest that the Mega Market Express, at 5001 Columbia Pike in the Pike Plaza shopping center, is giving away hundreds of meals as part of a promotion announced on Facebook. Police were not informed of the giveaway in advance, according to scanner traffic.

A large crowd has gathered around the store and Columbia Pike is jammed with traffic in both directions. Streets approaching the Pike like S. Dinwiddie Street are also at a standstill.

“This is absolutely insane,” said ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott, after arriving on scene. “No one is practicing social distancing.”

Officers are working to spread out the crowd and get traffic moving again. As of 5 p.m., the store had closed and was beginning to hand out certificates to let people pick up their giveaway items at a later time, according to scanner traffic.

Arlington’s emergency alert system is encouraging people to avoid the area.

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(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) Metrorail riders, especially those heading toward D.C. on the Orange/Silver line, are experiencing major crowding due to an incident in the District overnight.

Two trains, neither of which were carrying passengers, collided near the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West Metro stations around 1 a.m. Both train operators were injured.

An investigation into the crash has prompted single-tracking past the scene, leading to major delays during the Monday morning commute. Trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines are only running every 15 minutes, while the Silver Line is only running between the Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston stations.

Significant crowding has been reported at the East Falls Church and Ballston stations in Arlington. The cost of Uber and Lyft rides has also reportedly spiked.

“Consider alternate travel options,” Metro said via Twitter. The investigation is expected to continue for most of the day.

More via social media and the Unsuck DC Metro Twitter account:

https://twitter.com/mathewsjh/status/1181182610212556800

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Arlington police are urging residents to stay vigilant for any suspicious activity at large outdoor events this summer.

While the department stressed that there are “no known threats” to the county specifically, police also said in a news release that people can “help protect our community by reporting suspicious activity to police for investigation,” particularly at large gatherings.

Police say “shopping centers, restaurant districts, religious services and public transportation hubs” are examples of places where people should keep their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary.

“While we share everyday moments with our neighbors, family, coworkers and friends, we all have routines that are uniquely our own, making you most well-acquainted with what activities may be suspicious in your neighborhood and communities,” the department wrote.

Anyone with a concern can report it to the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 or online using this form.

File photo

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Saturday’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, hosted by Comedy Central personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert helped Metro set a Saturday ridership record with 825,437 Metrorail trips taken.

But while setting the record may sound like a positive development for the beleaguered Metro system, those who actually took Metrorail before and after the rally told tales of overcrowded trains and stations.

It was so bad after the rally that some local residents decided to return to Arlington on foot rather than brave the “zoo” at the Metro stations near the mall.

To give you an idea of how crowded it was, check out this video from the Rosslyn Metro station before the rally.

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

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The new Nordstrom Rack in Pentagon City opened its doors this morning to a large crowd eager to get their hands on some fashion bargains.

After the store opened, it ‘all hands on deck’ as the newly-hired employees manned every available checkout aisle and held signs aloft to show shoppers where the end of the checkout line was.

Of all the sections in the store, the shoe aisle seemed to be the most crowded this afternoon.

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