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Morning Notes

D.C. sunrise, as seen from Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Brief Ebola Scare at EPA HQ — Hazmat and EMS teams were dispatched to the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Crystal City this morning for a possible Ebola patient. After an assessment by a doctor, it was determined that the patient — a man in his 50s — did not have the likely symptoms of Ebola.

Arlington Launches Startup Competition — Arlington County is partnering with the website Tech.Co to run a contest to attract new startups to Arlington. Starting today, startups can apply for the chance to receive three months of free work and living space, plus free legal advice and public transit funds. [Tech.Co, Arlington Economic Development]

Orange, Silver Line Delays — Inbound trains on the Orange and Silver lines are delayed due to a train with a door problem at the East Falls Church Metro station. [Twitter, Twitter]

Stolen Car Crashes in Fairlington — A stolen car crashed in a quiet Fairlington neighborhood early Tuesday morning, after fleeing from a traffic stop. The suspects fled the scene and police were unable to track them down. [Patch]

Arlington Artist Survey — Arlington Cultural Affairs is surveying local artists about their needs for space to create art. “We would like to understand the space requirements of artists so that we can optimize the use of our current facilities and plan for future growth… Arlington Cultural Affairs is working both internally and externally to ensure that Arlington’s cultural scene remains vibrant and engaging.” The survey deadline is Sept. 30. [Arlington Arts]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Cherry blossoms and Arlington House (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

New Metro Train Debuts on Blue Line — Metro’s new 7000-series train made its public debut on the Blue Line this morning. Riders welcomed the next-generation rail cars with generally positive tweets. [Storify, Twitter]

Home Prices, Sales Rise — The volume of home sales in Arlington in March was 219, which is up 25 percent year-over-year. Housing sale prices also rose. The average sale price of all residential properties was up 1.3 percent to $628,483. The average price of single-family homes sold in March, meanwhile, was $919,858. [InsideNova]

Arlington to Employ Ebola Monitor — The Arlington County Board this weekend is expected to approve the acceptance of a $30,970 state grant earmarked for Ebola monitoring. “Grant funds will support ongoing monitoring and response coordination efforts for travelers returning from Ebola affected countries,” according to the staff report. “The funding supports temporary employment of a Health District Monitoring Coordinator ($29,400) and related office supplies ($1,570).” [Arlington County]

W-L Grad Dies — A student who graduated at the top of his Washington-Lee High School class in 2013 has been found dead after taking his own life. The student was a sophomore at William & Mary and was active in various theater groups. [William & Mary]

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UPDATED: Ebola Response in Clarendon

(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington County medics, firefighters and the hazmat team are on the scene of a Clarendon apartment building for a potential case of Ebola.

The call came in just after 9:30 this morning, for a possible Ebola patient in the new Beacon at Clarendon apartment building at 1128 N. Irving Street. According to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani, the department dispatches an Ebola response out of an abundance of caution when a sick person has a travel history and symptoms consistent with a case of the deadly virus.

“While it’s unlikely it’s Ebola, the fire department and the responding hospital are taking all appropriate precautions,” Marchegiani told ARLnow.com.

As of 10:30 a.m., the patient had been transported to Virginia Hospital Center. No definitive diagnosis has been made at this point. Building management declined to comment.

N. Irving Street is blocked between Washington Blvd and 13th Street, according to scanner traffic, but as of 10:30 fire department units were starting to clear the scene.

The last and only other reported instance of a suspected Ebola case in Arlington happened at the Pentagon on Oct. 17. In that case, the patient was found to have made false statements about her travel history — she did not have Ebola.

Update at 5:40 p.m. — In a press release, Arlington County says that the patient most likely does not have Ebola.

Arlington County Fire Department this morning transported a person with fever and a history of recent travel from an Ebola-affected area to the Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) for evaluation. The person had no known exposure to any Ebola cases, and medical findings are not consistent with a diagnosis of Ebola. The person was being monitored by Arlington County Public Health Department (ACPHD) officials under the statewide Virginia Department of Health Arriving Passenger Monitoring Program.

ACPHD will continue to monitor this person, as well as other travelers in the monitoring program, through their entire possible incubation period (21 days). People in the travel monitoring program will continue to be instructed to call 9-1-1 if they are medically unstable or if they do not have private transport.  If EMS staff respond, they will wear appropriate personal protective equipment before transporting the person with symptoms.

Arlington County Public Health and Virginia Hospital Center are working together — in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health — and followed the recommended course of action for such cases. There is no cause for public concern.

Hospital staff and first responders are highly trained to take appropriate precautions for all high-risk patients, routinely drilling and preparing for just such situations. The health and well-being of the community are a primary concern for both the County and VHC, and we want to reassure everyone that the hospital environment is safe for all patients.

To  learn more about the Ebola virus, visit the County website, where you can also get answers to frequently asked questions about Ebola. You can also call the Virginia Department of Health’s Ebola Call Center at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343).

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Morning Notes

Clouds over Rosslyn after Thursday's rain storm

APS Ranked in Top 100 — Arlington Public Schools has ranked No. 38 on a list of the top 100 school districts in America, published by the education website Niche. [WJLA]

Howze Won Pike Precincts — There was a bright spot for Democrat Alan Howze, who lost to incumbent John Vihstadt in a historic County Board election on Tuesday. Howze narrowly beat Vihstadt in the voting precincts along Columbia Pike. Howze supported the building of the Columbia Pike streetcar while Vihstadt vehemently opposes it. [InsideNova]

Preservation Arlington Opposes School Plans — The group Preservation Arlington wants its supporters to speak out against plans to build a new school on the Wilson School site in Rosslyn and to make changes to the Stratford School that would compromise its “historic integrity.”

Ebola Training for ACFD — Arlington County Fire Department command officers are training for another Ebola-related hazmat response. [Twitter]

No Tysons Wegman’s — A deal to bring a Wegman’s grocery store to Tysons Corner has fallen through. That will likely be disappointing to the many Arlingtonians who have been longing for a Wegman’s location closer than Fairfax or Woodbridge. Arlington isn’t the only D.C. suburb hoping for a Wegman’s, however. Reston residents have been calling for one, though the chain’s general requirement of a 80,000-150,000 square foot store with plenty of surface parking reportedly makes a Reston location unlikely. [Washington Post]

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Va. Hospital Center Issues Statement About Ebola Incident

Virginia Hospital Center logoVirginia Hospital Center has issued a statement regarding its handling of a possible Ebola case.

On Friday, the hospital refused to admit a patient who was thought to possibly be infected with the Ebola virus, despite the fact that she was initially transported there. Instead, the Arlington paramedic crew was directed to take the patient to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where she was treated.

It was later learned that the woman did not have Ebola.

VHC says it took proper action on Friday, because construction was taking place in the hospital’s biocontainment area. That construction is reportedly now complete, and the hospital says it is ready to treat a suspected Ebola patient.

From Virginia Hospital Center:

When the Ebola crisis initially unfolded and early guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were released, Virginia Hospital Center put in place processes and protocols that allowed us to safely screen suspected Ebola patients. As suspected Ebola cases surfaced at other hospitals and the CDC continued to change their recommended care guidelines, Virginia Hospital Center believed it was imperative that we have dedicated connecting rooms in the biocontainment area that would allow for the use of an anteroom by staff to safely enter and leave a patient’s room and safely remove and decontaminate Personal Protective Equipment. We needed to construct this anteroom to help mitigate the risk of transmission to patients, staff and our community.

On Friday, October 17, Arlington EMS alerted us that a patient with suspected Ebola symptoms and a reported, recent travel history to a CDC high-risk area was in transport to Virginia Hospital Center. Given the clinical symptoms, travel history, possible need for admission and the Hospital’s ongoing construction in this biocontainment area, we immediately contacted Inova Fairfax Hospital to inquire about their readiness to accept a suspected Ebola patient. Concurrent with their agreement to accept the patient, Arlington EMS arrived. The patient was then transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital. The safety and well-being of the patient, as well as all of our patients, staff and community, was paramount in our decision to transport the patient to a hospital equipped to care for the patient at that time. The construction in our biocontainment area is now complete and the Hospital is prepared to isolate, test and treat a suspected Ebola patient.

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ACFD: Va. Hospital Center Refused to Admit Suspected Ebola Patient

Hazmat response for possible Ebola patient at the Pentagon on 10/17/14Virginia Hospital Center refused to admit the potential Ebola patient from the Pentagon on Friday, according to county officials, despite the hospital saying two weeks earlier that it was ready to handle such patients.

Responding to an inquiry from ARLnow.com today, the Arlington County Fire Department confirmed reports that VHC refused the woman — who at the time was thought to potentially have the deadly Ebola virus — when medics brought her to the hospital. She never left the ambulance.

“We were turned away,” said ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. “We followed our protocol and brought the patient to the closest hospital (VHC), at which point we were rerouted to Fairfax Inova.”

VHC has not responded to multiple requests for comment from ARLnow.com. Marchegiani said the hospital claimed not to be prepared for such a patient, even though the department had previously been told VHC could accept suspected Ebola patients.

“The reason told to our medical director was that they couldn’t handle the patient,” said Marchegiani. Earlier this month, however, VHC told TV station WUSA 9 that it was ready to deal with potential Ebola patients.

“Virginia Hospital Center wants to reassure our community that the Hospital has the infrastructure and procedures already in place to screen, and if necessary, isolate, test and treat all high-risk patients. We drill and prepare for just such situations; therefore, our staff is highly trained to take appropriate precautions for a suspected and/or confirmed Ebola case.

A multi-disciplinary taskforce has reviewed our infection control guidelines and reinforced education of the Hospital staff to ensure it can detect a patient with Ebola Virus Disease, protect all healthcare workers so they can safely care for the patient, and respond to the patient in a timely manner.”

An ARLnow.com tipster indicates emergency responders called the VHC emergency room from the scene at the Pentagon, and were told to bring the patient over. The tipster claims hospital administration refused to allow the patient inside once she arrived at the hospital. The person tells ARLnow.com there was a “heated exchange” between the emergency physician and hospital administration inside the emergency room while the patient waited in the ambulance. The tipster also claims hospital administration worried it would lose business if it came to be seen as an “Ebola hospital.”

The county’s emergency officials reportedly have had talks with officials at VHC since the incident. ACFD confirms VHC has agreed to accept potential Ebola patients in the future.

Arlington County officials also have confirmed that the patient had not traveled to West Africa, as she allegedly first told authorities. In fact, she had not left the country at all, the county said, and had no contact with other potentially infected people.

“She had stated that she had traveled to Sierra Leone at the scene and did exhibit symptoms consistent with Ebola, so responders took all appropriate steps,” said Diana Sun, Arlington County’s Director of Communications. “There was an investigative process that went beyond Arlington. During the course of this, people close to the patient were interviewed and stated that she had not left the country. The patient herself, later in the afternoon, recanted her story and said that she had not left the country. When that last piece came in, public health officials felt confident in not pursuing” further testing for the Ebola virus.

There’s no word yet on whether the woman will face any charges.

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UPDATE (2): Sick Woman at Pentagon Does Not Have Ebola

Update at 5:10 p.m. — Arlington County officials say in a press release that the woman who was sick at the Pentagon this morning does not have Ebola.

Based on the public health investigation, which included the travel history of a woman who became ill this morning in a Pentagon parking lot, and on questioning of her by medical staff, medical authorities are confident that she does not have Ebola.

Arlington County Fire Department Emergency Medical Services transported the woman to Fairfax Inova Hospital Friday morning, after she became ill in a Pentagon parking lot. The woman had displayed symptoms consistent with the virus and her travel history was uncertain. She was put in isolation at Fairfax Inova Hospital. Arlington County took all necessary precautions to protect public health during this event, including activating its Emergency Operations Center. We are beginning to break down those operations now.

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Arlington County’s responded to the Pentagon this morning due to an possible Ebola case on a tour bus.

Medics responded to the Pentagon this morning for a report of a woman on a bus who was sick and vomiting. When they were told that she had recently arrived from Africa, the hazmat team was called out of “a complete abundance of caution,” Pentagon Force Protection Agency spokesman Chris Layman told ARLnow.com.

A large portion of the Pentagon south parking lot was cordoned off with caution tape, and police are telling those who don’t work at the Pentagon to avoid the immediate surrounding area.

The woman — who reportedly boarded the bus at the Pentagon, got sick in the bathroom then got off — was transported via ambulance to a Inova Fairfax Hospital. The county’s medical director also responded to the call and went to the hospital with the patient, according to scanner traffic.

A tipster with knowledge of the emergency response told ARLnow.com that the patient claimed she recently traveled from the West African nation of Sierra Leone. That was confirmed by D.C. health department officials. However, an Associated Press report is now questioning whether she has, in fact, been out of the country.

The tipster also said that four Arlington firefighters were held at the hospital for much of the day due to possible exposure, and are now monitoring themselves for signs illness. That tip could not be immediately confirmed. The AP is reporting that seven Pentagon police officers might have also been exposed and are being monitored.

Arlington medic units and Fairfax hazmat units are on scene at Inova Fairfax Hosptial, according to news helicopter footage.

As of 10:50 a.m., Arlington County was mobilizing its Emergency Operations Center to deal with the incident, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Just before noon, the county issued the following press release.

Arlington Responds to Possible Ebola Case

At about 9:10 a.m. today, Pentagon Police officers identified a woman in the Pentagon South Parking Lot, around lanes 17-19, who was ill and vomiting. Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) was notified and responded immediately with both emergency medical aid and HazMat response team.

During the response, the individual allegedly indicated that she had recently visited western Africa. Out of an abundance of caution, all pedestrian and vehicular traffic was suspended around the South Parking lot, while Arlington County responded to the scene. At 9:53 a.m, the patient was taken to the Virginia Hospital Center; however she did not exit the ambulance. ACFD then transported the patient to Fairfax Inova Hospital.

Arlington Public Health is directing the public health response to this incident. Arlington County has activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and a Joint Information Center (JIC) to manage the incident.

At the Pentagon
Out of an abundance of caution and to allow the investigation to proceed, pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the Pentagon South Parking lot’s lanes 7-23 will remain restricted until further notice. The Corridor 2 entrance to the Pentagon is also closed.

More information will be released when it becomes available.

Arlington firefighters and the hazmat team cleared the scene at the Pentagon around 1:45 p.m.

The bus the woman boarded was later stopped and detained near D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Despite numerous Ebola scares in the United States, there have been fewer than 10 confirmed cases in the country. Today President Obama named an “Ebola czar” to help coordinate the federal response to the outbreak threat.

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