Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Arlington Again Named Top Digital County — “Arlington today was named the No. 1 Digital County in the U.S. by the Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties 2020 awards. This marks the fourth time Arlington has received the top spot for its 150,000-249,999 population category.” [Arlington County]

County Swamped With Would-Be Poll Workers — “Earlier this summer, some Washington-area election officials were warning of a possible shortage of volunteers to work the polls come November. But a recent surge in interest has left those same officials with a good problem to have… ‘We have too many right now, to be honest,’ says Eric Olsen, the deputy director of Arlington County’s Board of Elections.” [DCist]

Yard Waste Collection Resumes With Delays — “Due to heavy yard waste volumes associated with the resumption of curbside yard waste collection, some customers may see their yard waste carts delayed until the following day.” [Arlington County]

Turkey Trot 5K Goes Virtual — “Organizers of the annual Arlington Turkey Trot have opted for a ‘virtual’ format for 2020. Instead of running as a group on Thanksgiving morning, the hundreds of Turkey Trot participants are being asked to run on their own the weekend of Thanksgiving.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: D.C. Getting New Area Code — “D.C. has had one single area code — 202 — for more than 70 years. But it will soon be joined by a second area code… The nation’s capital is expected to run out of 202 phone numbers in the third quarter of 2022.” [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

It’s September — With a flip of the calendar, it is now September. Including today, there are 122 days remaining until 2021. There are nine weeks until Election Day. [YouTube, Wall Street Journal]

NORAD Exercises This Week — “We will conduct air defense exercise Falcon Virgo between midnight and 5:30 a.m. (ET) Sept.1-3 in the Washington, D.C. area. The exercise includes U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft, a U.S. Army C-12, a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65D helicopter, and a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182T. Some portions of the exercise may involve flights at approximately 2,500 feet and may be visible from the ground.” [Facebook]

The Backstory Behind Chasin’ Tails — Cajun seafood restaurant Chasin’ Tails, in East Falls Church, along with Happy Endings Eatery in Rosslyn, are owned by two brothers who became globetrotting multi-millionaires by playing online poker. [Washingtonian]

Rosslyn Company to Be Acquired — “Arlington language learning company Rosetta Stone Inc. is being acquired by private equity-backed Cambium Learning Group Inc. for $792 million. The all-cash deal announced Monday values Rosetta Stone (NYSE: RST) at about $30 per share, about 87% higher than its closing price on July 16.” [Washington Business Journal]

Long-time Journalist Dies — “William R. Neikirk, an award-winning economics and political journalist who spent nearly 35 years with the Chicago Tribune and served as White House correspondent during the Clinton administration, died Aug. 27 at his home in Arlington, Va. He was 82. The cause was dementia and complications from the novel coronavirus.” [Washington Post]

Kanye on Va. Ballot — “Rapper Kanye West has qualified to appear on Virginia’s presidential ballot in November, according to state election officials. Elections officials confirmed Friday evening that West will appear on the ballot as an independent after verifying he submitted 5,000 petition signatures from Virginia voters.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: D.C. Offices Nearly Deserted — “Only 5 percent of office workers in downtown DC were in their workplaces at the end of July, according to a new report from the DowntownDC BID. Economic activity in downtown DC, it found, was 12 percent of what it was the year before.” [Washingtonian]

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Arlington County Police are investigating a robbery at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Initial reports suggest that multiple suspects stole items from the Superdry store in the mall, then fled in a vehicle by ramming one of the mall parking garage gates.

Police followed the vehicle over the 14th Street Bridge and into the District, where the driver crashed into another vehicle near the 12th Street ramp, and all five suspects — believed to be juveniles — ran off, according to scanner traffic. The Superdry merchandise was reportedly tossed into the water below by the fleeing suspects.

So far, there’s no word of any arrests.

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(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic in Arlington.

The bad news is that the rate of new cases reached a fresh two-month high over the weekend. On Saturday, the seven-day trailing total of new cases reached 156, the highest point since June 2, as the county came down from the peak of its epidemic.

As of this morning, that seven-day total has dropped to 146, with 14 new cases reported overnight, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Also over the weekend, the state as a whole hit a new peak in cases, with 1,307 new cases reported throughout Virginia on Saturday

In Alexandria, Arlington’s neighbor to the south, there are concerns about a virus resurgence.

The president of Inova Alexandria Hospital told our sister site ALXnow that hospital teams are “exhausted” and “burned out” from treating COVID-19 patients.

In Arlington, however, hospitalizations remain low. In fact, there has only been one new reported COVID-related hospitalization in the county over the past week. The cumulative total of hospitalizations — currently 437 — has risen by only 41 over the past two months.

In his latest weekly Facebook post, Virginia Hospital Center emergency room chief Mike Silverman said the hospital is not seeing the level of seriously ill patients it once did.

“Our data continues to look good. Our percent positive rate within the hospital remains low and the number of patients we’re evaluating who require our ‘COVID isolation’ status dropped to the lowest number this past week that we’ve seen in months,” he wrote. “We are caring for COVID patients every day, but I’m not seeing any indication this past week that makes me think next week will be a lot worse. Something to watch.”

There are concerns, however, that the seeds of a fall epidemic are being planted by young restaurant- and bar-goers.

Last week DCist reported that contact tracing in the District has revealed an “increasing number” of coronavirus patients had dined at restaurants. Ten percent had also recently traveled.

In Arlington over the weekend, social media was abuzz with images from Clarendon, where large crowds lined sidewalks waiting for entry into popular nightlife venues, like the outdoor beer garden The Lot, flouting a recently-passed emergency ordinance requiring more distance between those queuing up.

Despite worries about the crowds, many experts say outdoor activities in general are considerably safer than indoor activities, including dining.

“We have very little evidence of outdoor transmission. It’s not zero — there are definitely cases reported — but it’s much, much lower than inside,” Gretchen Snoeyenbos Newman, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Washington, told the Washington Post in June.

https://twitter.com/SunniAndTheCity/status/1292291142571220992

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(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A large group of demonstrators blocked the outbound 14th Street Bridge between D.C. and Arlington during the evening rush hour.

Protesters were sitting down across the main southbound bridge span, according to D.C. police, but then started marching towards Arlington. The group — said to number in the hundreds — previously marched from the area around the Jefferson Memorial, according to scanner traffic.

Arlington County fire department medics were dispatched to the bridge at the request of Virginia State Police for a report of a protester who is dehydrated.

Drivers should expect delays in the area, though the outbound HOV lanes remained open. Police are on scene monitoring the demonstration.

Public safety watchdog Dave Statter broadcast live video of the protest, which as of 4:35 p.m. appeared to be winding down. Demonstrators, holding signs and flags, could be seen marching back toward D.C. Lanes reopened at 4:50 p.m.

The protest is related to the persecution of an ethnic group in Ethiopia, according to social media posts. It does not appear to be associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

https://twitter.com/DCPoliceTraffic/status/1280238440207077377

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Morning Notes

D.C. Now More Expensive Than Arlington — “D.C. has bumped Arlington County, Virginia, from the top of the most-expensive area jurisdictions by county for median home-selling prices — at least for the month of May. Long & Foster reports the median price of a home that sold in the District in May was $656,000, 10% more than May of last year. The median price of a home that sold in Arlington County was $646,000, up 4%.” [WTOP]

Lower Census Response Rate Than 2010 — “In 2010, 74% of Arlington households filled out their Census form and returned it by mail, which was the only option at the time. In 2020, despite being able to fill out the Census online, by phone and by mail, Arlington’s self-response rate is hovering at just over 70%.” [Arlington County]

Missing: BLM Banner — Someone took a Black Lives Matter banner that had been hanging on a pedestrian bridge over Route 50, and its creator wants it back. [Twitter]

JBG Wants to Improve VRE Station Plan — “JBG Smith Properties could soon play a key role in a second major transportation improvement project in Crystal City, performing design work to beef up plans for a new Virginia Railway Express station there. The developer is advancing a plan to manage the construction of a second entrance for the nearby Crystal City Metro station, and this work on the VRE designs would be closely tied to that effort.” [Washington Business Journal]

Another Unique Feat for Wardian — Arlington ultramarathon runner Michael Wardian ran 62.3 miles to every District Taco in the D.C. area, eating tacos along the way. [Instagram]

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(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) A combination of hot days and pandemic closures has sent people flocking to the banks of the Potomac River near Chain Bridge.

On both the Virginia and D.C./Maryland sides of the river, people are fishing, picnicking, hanging out and, in some cases, swimming. The last one of those is a major danger, authorities say, as is accidental falls into the river.

First responders from D.C., Arlington and federal agencies have conducted rescue operations along the Potomac several times over the past few months.

In March, a man suffering a medical emergency was airlifted from rocky terrain on the Virginia side, just north of Chain Bridge. In May, a search and rescue operation turned into a recovery operation after a 67-year-old man fell into the river and died. On Tuesday, another search — this time, a man is presumed dead after swimming in the river, going under and not resurfacing.

On Wednesday, D.C. Fire and Rescue posted on social media, urging people to avoid the waters of the Potomac.

“The Potomac River around Chain Bridge is treacherous and deceiving,” the fire department tweeted. “DO NOT swim anywhere in this area. If you are on the shoreline, stay a safe distance from the water. A fall into the river can quickly turn fatal.”

Over this past weekend, National Park Service employees could be seen watching over the crowds from Chain Bridge. On Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard personnel were spotted talking and showing maps to river-goers near the bridge.

One local resident told ARLnow this morning that even more needs to be done.

“Arlington and D.C. need to start policing along the river banks,” the resident said via email. “My family and I walk down to the river most nights and the trash, fires and illegal cast nets are increasing daily. It’s become a nightly party down on the river banks.”

“I grew up in Arlington and have always walked the banks. I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on now,” the resident continued. “Police need to patrol the area, like they used to. The only time you see police down there is when someone falls in…. It’s dangerous and I don’t want anyone else to die.”

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

Arlington Riot Cops Sued by ACLU — “Defendants John Poe 1 – 20 are officers of the Arlington County Police Department and other non-federal law enforcement officials who participated in the attack on peaceful protesters in and near Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020. They are sued in their individual capacities.” [Associated PressWashington Post]

Washington Monument Struck By Lightning — As seen from the Crystal City / Pentagon City area, the Washington Monument took a direct lightning strike last night. [Twitter]

Marymount Apologizes for Removed BLM Tweet — “One specific concern we heard in the Listening Session referenced the removal of a social media post last Saturday which included the message, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This was the wrong decision. We apologize and acknowledge the impact this decision has had on our Marymount community.” [Marymount University]

Arlington Unemployment Spikes — “The COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent government-imposed lockdown and resulting economic freefall cost nearly 17,000 Arlington residents their jobs between mid-March and mid-April, according to new state data… The county’s unemployment rate, which in March had been a miniscule 2.2 percent, ballooned to 7 percent, knocking the county off its longstanding perch of having the best jobs picture in the commonwealth.” [InsideNova]

Local Centenarian Gets Neighborhood Parade — “Right around 5 p.m. on her 100th birthday, her usually quiet neighborhood in North Arlington was shaken up by loud sirens and flashing lights. A caravan of vehicles blaring sirens, tooting horns and shouting greetings snaked down the street for several blocks. The parade of sorts was led by two Arlington County Police officers on motorcycles followed by countless police vehicles, Arlington County Fire Department engines, sheriffs’ vehicles and several private cars and trucks, one sporting an inflatable unicorn on its roof.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

APS Welcomes New Superintendent — “This is Dr. Francisco Durán’s first week as Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools. Welcome aboard! As a reminder, there are several Virtual Town Halls scheduled this month for our community, students and staff to get to know Dr. Durán.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Trash Collection Still Facing Delays — “Arlington’s trash/recycling contractor continues to experience staffing issues due to COVID-19. As a result, some routes recently have not been completed on their scheduled day, requiring a follow-up run the next day. If trash and/or recycling is not collected on your service day, leave the carts at the curb the next day.  If carts have not been serviced by noon the second day, submit a missed collection ticket.” [Arlington County]

County Offers Mask Flyers — “If a business or residence needs ‘face coverings required’ signs (in multiple languages), we have flyers for download here.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

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(Updated at 9:50 p.m.) Arlington County police officers who were assisting U.S. Park Police during protests in D.C. have been ordered “to immediately leave,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey tweeted Monday night.

Officers in ACPD helmets could be seen in photos and video (below) assisting with the forceful removal of protesters from around St. John’s Church, an action that involved the deployment of tear gas. Shortly thereafter, President Trump walked to the church and held up a bible, a move dismissed as a photo opportunity by critics and criticized as “antithetical to the teachings of Jesus” by the Episcopal bishop of Washington.

“Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op,” Garvey wrote just before 9 p.m., about two hours after the incident. “We ordered @ArlingtonVaPD to immediately leave DC.”

“At the direction of the County Board, County Manager and Police Chief, all ACPD officers left the District of Columbia at 8:30 tonight,” the county subsequently said in a brief statement. “The County is re-evaluating the agreements that allowed our officers to be put in a compromising position that endangered their health and safety, and that of the people around them, for a purpose not worthy of our mutual aid obligations.”

County police in riot gear were assisting with crowd control in Lafayette Square, near the White House, following a mutual aid request from Park Police. Such requests are typically used for suspect searches or to assist with significant incidents; Arlington often requests the assistance of the U.S. Park Police helicopter, for instance.

Following inquiries from ARLnow, after we noticed ACPD helmets in a TV news broadcast Sunday night, a police spokeswoman earlier today confirmed that Arlington police were indeed in D.C. after a mutual aid request.

“ACPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit responded to a mutual aid request by United States Park Police for assistance maintain peace and order on federal park land,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “ACPD began providing support [Sunday].”

The department has worked to maintain a positive relationship with the community over the years, including by handing out water to protesters in Arlington on Sunday. On Friday, amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, police chief M. Jay Farr released a statement.

“It is impossible for us to achieve our mission if we lose the trust of our community,” he wrote. “When force is used, we must hold ourselves accountable for our actions.”

“We work and live by a set of core values: courage, competence, commitment, compassion, restraint, respect and integrity,” the department says in its job description for new officers.

Separately Monday night, Arlington County issued a statement regarding Floyd’s killing.

“The Arlington County Board condemns the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, including the complicit officers who participated in and witnessed the murder,” the statement reads. “While the video was shocking, the circumstances of the murder should not be; they are too familiar in a nation where the disregard for and devaluing of Black lives is too common, and too often comes at the hands of the people sworn to protect them.”

https://twitter.com/bad_takes/status/1267594813710446593

Screenshot (top) via @thehill/Twitter

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(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) With a 7 p.m. curfew and protesters marching on M Street NW, D.C. police are blocking lanes of the Key Bridge heading towards Georgetown.

Stores and restaurants are boarded up along M Street, in anticipation of another night of protests in the District.

A group of peaceful protesters was heading in the direction of Georgetown around 8:15 p.m., but started heading back on Pennsylvania Avenue after encountering a police roadblock, according to reports on Twitter.

Some businesses in Arlington have also been boarded up or closed early, including the Crate and Barrel in Clarendon and a CVS store in Rosslyn, as seen in the photo gallery above.

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Update at 9:15 p.m. — Arlington police have been ordered to leave D.C., County Board Chair Libby Garvey says.

Earlier: If you were watching cable news coverage of the fiery clashes near the White House last night, you might have spotted “ACPD” on the helmets of some of the riot police.

Your eyes did not deceive you. On Sunday, Arlington County Police began assisting with the law enforcement response to the protests, which have been mostly peaceful during the day but have turned destructive after dark for three straight nights.

“ACPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit responded to a mutual aid request by United States Park Police for assistance maintain peace and order on federal park land,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed, in response to inquiries from ARLnow. “ACPD began providing support [Sunday].”

Police departments often provide mutual aid to one another in the D.C. area, with its mix of local, state and federal police forces. More routine mutual aid calls involve searches for suspects, often involving K-9 officers or helicopters — for instance, U.S. Park Police’s Eagle 1 helicopter. More rarely, mutual aid is requested for significant incidents, like shootings or standoffs.

Park Police have been attempting to defend Lafayette Square, north of the White House, amid mass, nationwide protests that have followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of since-fired Minneapolis police officers, one of whom is now facing a murder charge.

It appears that Arlington officers are back on the streets of D.C. today, as the District imposes a 7 p.m. curfew in an effort to prevent more destruction and violence. Earlier today tipster noticed a convoy of Arlington public safety personnel departing from Courthouse, where ACPD headquarters is located.

“Arlington police dressed in riot gear just loaded into vans and are leaving the Courthouse area with a fire department bus and an armored car under police motorcycle escort,” the tipster said.

Screenshot via MSNBC/YouTube

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