Arlington, VA

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered all schools in the state to remain closed through the end of the academic year and certain non-essential businesses to close.

The governor made the announcement Monday afternoon, citing the need to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“School closures are necessary to minimize the speed at which COVID-19 spreads, and to protect the capacity of our healthcare systems,” Northam said.

All schools public and private are to stay closed at least through the end of the academic year. As a result, Arlington Public Schools says it is now working on a plan for what to do going forward, while awaiting further guidance from the state Dept. of Education.

Earlier Monday, APS told parents that it would start to introduce new instructional material to middle and high school students this week.

Elementary teachers will not introduce new content within the timeframe that schools are currently set to be closed. Secondary teachers may begin introducing new content the week of March 23. We recognize that all students do not have the same ability to regularly access and attend to learning new skills or content while at home. Secondary teachers who are introducing new content are mindful of the opportunity gap that this is likely to create and will plan strategies to address it.

While virtual learning can never replace classroom instruction, teachers are providing instructional activities meant to help students maintain their skills and knowledge and prepare for what’s coming next. We understand this comes with both challenges and perks as adults and students work to establish new routines.

Given the extended school closures, state officials are going to with localities on a plan to provide childcare to essential workers, like those who work in healthcare, Northam said.

Northam also announced today that, as of just before midnight on Tuesday, he was ordering certain non-essential businesses closed. That includes recreational and entertainment businesses, like bowling alleys, as well as personal care services that can’t social distance, like barber shops and salons.

Restaurants will only be able to remain open for carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery, Northam said, finally providing the state backing to what Arlington County leaders had been calling for since last week.

The business restrictions will be in effect for at least 30 days, Northam announced.

“We do not make these decisions lightly,” the governor said. “But COVID-19 is serious and we must act.”

“We’re acting judiciously and with full regard to the consequences,” Northam added. “Our priority is to save lives. We have a health crisis, and we have an economic crisis, but the sooner we can get this health crisis under control, the sooner our economy will recover.”

Among the businesses deemed essential, which will be able to stay open, are grocery stores, pharmacies and banks. Construction activities will be allowed to continue, and “construction product retail stores” can stay open, the governor said. Virginia ABC liquor stores will also stay open.

Northam did not order churches and other houses of worship closed, but he encouraged them to practice social distancing.

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The number of known coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Arlington have risen to nine.

That’s up from five as of Friday afternoon. The figures are being reported by the Virginia Dept. of Health, which as of noon on Monday reported 51 cases statewide, with only 489 people tested.

Arlington was third among Virginia jurisdictions in terms of coronavirus cases, with Fairfax and James City counties each reporting 10 cases.

“VDH is no longer reporting the pending number of tests as testing capacity has expanded to include commercial laboratories,” the health department said. “Commercial laboratories report all results to VDH. Information will be updated daily, Monday-Friday at noon; and will be updated daily on weekends.”

Over the weekend, Arlington County declared a local emergency in response to the ongoing outbreak. The county has been listing changes to county government services and events, along with tips for prevention and testing.

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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One of Arlington’s biggest annual events has been cancelled and its biggest sports league suspended, as a result of coronavirus concerns.

Ballston Quarterfest made the announcement shortly after 3 p.m.

“The health and well-being of our community is the top priority at the Ballston BID,” said a PR rep for the business improvement district. “It is for this most important reason that we have made the difficult decision to cancel Quarterfest this year, which was scheduled for Saturday, May 16.”

“At this time, we plan to move forward with other, smaller events and will continue to follow Arlington County-recommended procedures for events, which may include canceling or postponing some additional or perhaps all public programs and events taking place in the near future,” the rep said.

The Arlington Soccer Association, meanwhile, has announced that it is suspending operations, practices and games until at least the end of the month.

“In light of the actions taken today by US Youth Soccer and the US Soccer Federation to suspend operations, Arlington Soccer is suspending all club-related practices, games and other activities effective immediately through March 30, 2020,” the league said. “At that time, we will reevaluate the situation and provide families with an update on next steps. While we are disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe it is in the best interest of our players, their families and our employees”

The pair of Thursday afternoon announcements will nix a street festival in Ballston attended by tens of thousands of people each year, to the benefit of local restaurants, and at least temporarily pause a league with 9,000 players. The actions are in line with health authorities’ recommendation to avoid large gatherings and social contact, to help head off the rapid spread of the disease.

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(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) A second office in Crystal City is being sanitized after another coronavirus exposure.

“In the last hour, we were notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) relating to a guest of a tenant occupying space at 2345 Crystal Drive,” said a memo sent by property owner JBG Smith earlier today and obtained by ARLnow. “The tenant is located on the 11th floor of 2345 Crystal Drive. It is our understanding that the guest of the tenant attended a meeting within the tenant’s space for approximately one hour on Thursday, March 5th, and the guest later tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, March 9th.”

“The tenant has notified their staff and has advised any staff that was in contact with the infected individual to self-quarantine,” the memo continued. “The tenant has also engaged an environmental contractor to begin disinfecting their space.”

Amazon has one of its temporary HQ2 offices at the building, but ARLnow hears that the affected office is not Amazon’s.

On Monday ARLnow first reported that another person who had tested positive for coronavirus had visited a pair of offices on the northern end of Crystal City.

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Arlington County Police are investigating what the department characterized as a suspicious death.

Officers and medics were dispatched to an apartment at the AVA Ballston Square building (850 N. Randolph Street) around 5:30 p.m. Friday. Initial reports suggested that a young man was in cardiac arrest, with blood coming from his upper extremities, and that several other people were inside the apartment at the time.

“Upon arrival, an adult male victim was located deceased inside a residence,” police said in a press release. “Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

“This remains an active criminal investigation and the preliminary investigation has not revealed an immediate threat to the community,” ACPD said. “Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Detective J. Senn of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4049 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS‬ (8477).”

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Update at 5:15 p.m. — Power has been restored to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, but another, separate outage has been reported near Wakefield High School.

Earlier: Nearly 9,000 Dominion customers in Arlington are without power this morning.

A widespread outage is affecting portions of Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston and neighborhoods to the north, including Cherrydale and Donaldson Run.

As of 8:45 a.m. Dominion’s power outage map lists 8,844 customers without power and an estimated restoration time of 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There’s so far no word on what caused the outage.

Police are working to control traffic as some intersections with dark traffic signals, according to scanner traffic.

Update at 9:10 a.m. — The number of customers without power is down to around 3,800, with the outage now running from Virginia Square to Rosslyn, north of Clarendon Blvd, according to Dominion’s map.

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Update at 10:50 a.m. — The source of the smoke was determined to be a “malfunctioning air handler” in Nordstrom, which is now being shut down, according to scanner traffic. Most of the fire vehicles are expected to leave the scene shortly.

Earlier: Firefighters from Arlington and neighboring jurisdictions are investigating smoke and a burning odor in the Pentagon City mall.

The smoke and odor was reported on the Nordstrom end of the mall. Thus far firefighters have not found a fire.

A large emergency response is on scene, with firefighters checking out all floors of the store, as well as the Metro station and the roof, for a smoke source.

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(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) A man inappropriately touched and attempted to restrain a teen girl in the Arlington Heights neighborhood Tuesday evening.

That’s according to Arlington County Police and an email on the local civic association listserv.

The incident happened around 5 p.m. on the 300 block of S. Irving Street.

“My 14 year daughter was walking home the boy she babysits for with another friend and was grabbed by a man who was walking behind following then when he attended to snatch her around the waist while crossing the street,” the victim’s father said via an email, which was reposted on the civic association’s Facebook page.

“She screamed and slapped the man who dropped her and ran away. A local family came outside when they heard the scream, and let them wait in the house for the police and my wife to show up. All three are traumatized.”

So far no arrests have been reported and police say the investigation is ongoing. More on the incident, including the description of the suspect, from ACPD:

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2019-12100186, 300 block of S. Irving Street. At approximately 5:12 p.m. on December 10, police were dispatched to the report of an assault that just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that three juveniles were walking in the area when the suspect allegedly began to follow them. The suspect then approached the female victim from behind, grabbed her buttocks and placed his hands around her, pulling towards him. The victim pushed the suspect away and yelled for help. The suspect fled the scene on foot prior to police arrival and a canvas of the area returned with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, 30 – 40 years old, 5’7″ – 5’9″ tall with a lanky build. He has dark hair, a dark brown goatee with highlights of gray and stubble around the cheeks. He was wearing a tan hoodie and baggy, light blue jeans at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) Travelers flying in or out of Reagan National Airport should expect significant delays after an emergency landing and aircraft evacuation this morning.

Initial reports suggest that an American Airlines flight landed, declared an emergency and evacuated passengers on the tarmac after smoke filled the cabin. Emergency responders rushed to the scene but so far no significant injuries have been reported.

Dozens of flights are now delayed, waiting to take off or land from the busy airport.

“Due to… Aircraft Emergency, traffic is experiencing Gate Hold and Taxi delays between 46 minutes and 1 hour in length and increasing,” the Federal Aviation Administration said on its website as of 10:30 a.m. Shortly thereafter, the airport tweeted that the incident had been cleared and flights were resuming.

More from social media:

Screen cap via Twitter/@glukianoff

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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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(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Victor Hoskins, the head of Arlington Economic Development who helped Arlington woo Amazon and its HQ2 to the county, is leaving for a job with Fairfax County.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority announced today that Hoskins will be its new president and CEO, replacing its now-retired longtime leader, Gerry Gordon. FCEDA is one of the largest economic development agencies in the country, with six global satellite offices.

Hoskin’s departure is seen as a major loss for Arlington, at a crucial time for the county with Amazon moving in and another key economic development official, Christina Winn, recently departing for the top economic job with Prince William County.

“We wish Victor well,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement to ARLnow. “He has been a great leader and we know that he will continue to be a force for great regional collaboration.”

Schwartz says the county may announce an interim director for AED later this week.

More from an FCEDA press release, after the jump.

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