Arlington, VA

The ever-busy Trader Joe’s store in Clarendon was closed this morning, with a sign on the door saying an employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

The store is now closed for a thorough cleaning and restocking, according to the sign, after which it plans to reopen.

The sign says the employee was last in the store on Sunday. The full text is below.

TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR CLEANING

We would like to notify customers of this store that we are temporarily closing the store for precautionary cleaning and sanitization because a Crew Member has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). As soon as the store has been fully cleaned and restocked, we plan to reopen.

The Crew Member was last present in the store on March 29, 2020. We encourage customers who have health-related concerns to review CDC and local health department guidelines and to contact their healthcare providers with any questions. Our focus remains on doing whatever is necessary to safeguard the health of and safety of our Crew Members and customers and best support our communities.

Photo courtesy Peter G.

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Morning Notes

Resources to Assist Those in Need — Arlington County has created a list of food, financial and medical assistance that is available for neighbors in need during the coronavirus outbreak. [Arlington County]

Vihstadt Stands Up for Farmers Markets — “At Saturday’s County Board meeting, former board member John Vihstadt rapped the state government for lumping in farmers’ markets – of which Arlington has nearly a dozen operating throughout the week – with restaurants (which for the most part are now closed to dine-in service and in many cases are shuttered completely) rather than treating them as supermarkets (which remain open and running at full strength).” [InsideNova]

Giant Adjusting Store Hours — “Effective Friday, March 27, most Giant Food stores will adjust hours of operations to be open from 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m… The first hour of operations, 6:00-7:00 a.m. is reserved for senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, including pregnant women and caregivers shopping for the immunocompromised, so that they may shop and practice safe social distancing.” [Press Release]

Va. Liquor Stores Limit Hours — “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will reduce operating hours at all of its stores statewide beginning Friday, March 27, due to the expanding nature of the COVID-19 outbreak… stores across the commonwealth will be open from noon to 7 p.m., seven days a week, starting Friday, March 27.” [Virginia ABC]

County to Help Hospital with Bond Sale — “Continuing a 42-year tradition of collaboration, the Arlington County government will assist Virginia Hospital Center in issuing bonds to support new construction. County Board members on March 21 authorized the government’s Industrial Development Authority, or IDA, to issue up to $300 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to support the effort.” [InsideNova]

Local Catholic Schools Embrace Distance Learning — “The Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Catholic Schools announced the successful stand-up of distance learning in all 41 parish schools and high schools in the Diocese. Distance learning is now in place, offering interactive, personalized instruction to students through the remainder of the academic year.” [Press Release]

Local Leaders Urge Rent Leniency — “There are new calls for landlords to freeze [rent] payments to help mitigate the economic fallout of the pandemic… ‘We need them to show compassion on the front end, and we’ll work to make sure they’re made whole on the back end,’ said Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey.” [Washington Business Journal]

Tomb Sentinels Are Still Guarding — “There is a sacred duty not even a pandemic can stop: a rite of continuity still carried out in Arlington National Cemetery even as much of the country shuts down. The sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier recently marked more than 30,000 days of constant watch over the remains of unidentified U.S. service members — a streak persisting through the pandemic.” [WUSA 9]

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Morning Notes

More on Arlington’s Drive-Through Testing — “Arlington County and the Virginia Hospital Center launched a coronavirus sampling site Wednesday, but a short supply of test kits and limited lab processing ability are forcing them to be selective with who they see.” [WAMU]

Grocery Stores With Senior-Only Shopping Hours — “Some DC-area grocery stores are offering or plan to offer special shopping hours for senior citizens, and in some cases other vulnerable people, during the coronavirus crisis. [Washingtonian, Twitter]

County Asks Landlords for Leniency — “We ask that you consider now what you can do to ease burdens for tenants who may have difficulty paying their rent in the coming months because of illness or financial hardship related to ongoing business disruptions and closures.” [Arlington County]

Cristol to Commercial Landlords: Don’t Fire Cleaners — “These men and women are the unsung heroes of the Coronavirus pandemic and they can least afford to lose wages and benefits during this crisis. At the same time that cleaners and security officers have stepped forward to do their jobs during this outbreak, they are now being threatened with layoffs and reductions.” [Press Release]

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Questioned — The Celtic House on Columbia Pike is closed now, but it was one of the only local bars to stay fully open on St. Patrick’s Day. Some are questioning that decision as governments and medical professionals urge people to stay at home and maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. [Facebook, Twitter]

Some Restaurants Decide to Close Completely — Galaxy Hut in Clarendon, which initially stayed open for takeout meals, is instead “shutting this puppy down.” [Twitter]

Arlington Musician Takes Shows Online — “Singer and songwriter Justin Trawick’s livelihood as a stage performer who did more than a dozen shows a month ground to a halt recently as the coronavirus pandemic shut down his concert venues.” [Reuters]

County Permit Office Closed — “The Arlington County Permit Office is now CLOSED for in-person customer service. Many services remain available online.” [Twitter]

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The most consistent advice regarding the coronavirus, besides frequent hand washing, seems to be to practice social distancing — stay at home, avoid crowded workplaces or events, and generally just hunker down.

In apparent preparation for long stays at home, Arlingtonians have been flocking to local stores and picking aisles clean of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, canned soup and even bananas.

The past two nights, in particular, have seen huge crowds at local grocery stores.

At the Ballston Harris Teeter last night, people waited in line to check out for upwards of 45 minutes and had to navigate aisles of empty shelves. Cleaning supplies, toilet paper and paper towels all were in low supply, if at all.

Elsewhere in and around Arlington, readers reported:

Last week we reported that most local grocery stores, drug stores and hardware store were completely out of hand sanitizer and face masks.

The hoarding may have some negative effects, as one reader noted in an email to ARLnow Friday morning.

“I popped into Harris Teeter on George Mason last night and was greeted by barren shelves of produce and meat… What impacted me the most from my trip, was while I was disappointed that I couldn’t grab chicken for tonight’s dinner (there was none) I saw an older lady — perhaps in her 70’s doing her shopping,” the reader wrote.

“I saw her searching the empty shelves for groceries and was struck by the realization that the people who are hoarding resources are also bringing undue risk and hardship to those with the most need,” the reader continued. “I have no idea how difficult it was for this woman to get to the grocery store, but I’m sure her effort was more than mine. To think she may have to go without as a result of others panic broke my heart.”

There is some good news: shelves are getting restocked overnight. At the Shirlington Harris Teeter this morning, there was plenty of toilet paper, plus bleach and Lysol-based cleaners.

Ashley Hopko and Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

More Signs of Coronavirus Preps — Emptier shelves at local grocery stores, less traffic on the roads: there are signs that locals are taking the coronavirus threat seriously. During the first hour of yesterday’s evening rush hour, traffic on I-395 was relatively light. Last night, there was barely any canned soup left on the shelves at the Lee-Harrison Harris Teeter. [Twitter, Twitter]

Some Churches Close, Others Announce Changes — Episcopal churches in the D.C. area have suspended worship services, while the Catholic Diocese of Arlington announced a series of measures intended to help prevent the spread of disease. [Washington Post, Press Release]

Events Are Being Cancelled in Arlington — “Out of an abundance of caution, the Rosslyn BID has decided to cancel our Arts & Beats series this March and April. We are hoping to run these events later this year and we will be evaluating future events on a case-by-case basis.” [Twitter]

Arlington Conferences Cancelled — “Code for America was scheduled to host its annual summit at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, from March 11 through 13. A Code for America spokesperson told Technical.ly that this would have been the first time the nonprofit was hosting the annual summit in the D.C. area, as it normally takes place in San Francisco. Code for America release a statement on Friday announcing the summit’s cancellation.” [Technically DC]

Local Real Estate Still Hot, Though — “Listing service Bright MLS said closed sales throughout the Washington metro area were up 13% from a year ago to a 10-year high… In Arlington County, Virginia, the median overall price of what sold was $635,000, up 12.4%. But the median price of a stand-alone house that sold in Arlington last month was $1.14 million, up 19.2% from last February.” [WTOP]

Arlington Works on Tree Preservation — “It’s not just housing affordability and increased traffic Arlington County officials are concerned about in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s arrival. They’re also watching out for the trees. County officials are proposing to add one urban forester position to the Department of Parks and Recreation. The new hire is needed to expand tree preservation efforts and work through the surge of site plans developers are pitching in the area of Amazon’s HQ2.” [Washington Business Journal]

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(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) If you want to stock up on hand sanitizer and face masks, you’re going to have a tough time finding any in Arlington.

Numerous stores we checked around the county were completely out of both, amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak. Despite there being no confirmed local cases, shoppers in Arlington seem as eager to hoard supplies as others across the U.S.

The CVS store at Ballston Quarter mall was a typical scene. The shelves this afternoon were mostly bare where face masks, hand sanitizer and Lysol once stood.

Elsewhere around Arlington:

  • The Harris Teeter stores in Shirlington and Pentagon City were completely out of hand sanitizer
  • Ayers Hardware in Westover had only a limited supply of face masks and was imposing a per customer sales limit
  • Preston’s Pharmacy on Lee Highway was out of hand sanitizer, but a clerk said customers were buying aloe and rubbing alcohol to make their own “homebrew” hand sanitizer
  • Cherrydale Hardware on Lee Highway was out of masks
  • Target in Rosslyn was out of hand sanitizer

If you feel you must get your hands on some hand sanitizer — or some face masks despite officials cautioning that they’re ineffective — there might be a solution. A pop-up “coronavirus supply store” opened on Florida Avenue NE in D.C. over the weekend, offering both of the above plus bleach and “preparedness kits.”

Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools officials, meanwhile, say they’re monitoring the outbreak and are continuing to make emergency preparations.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

For Families, $100K Doesn’t Cut it Here — “An analysis by personal finance site MagnifyMoney found that in some pricey cities it’s particularly hard to make it on $100,000. ‘The worst metro area for a family earning $100,000 includes Washington, D.C. and neighboring cities Arlington and Alexandria, Va. After factoring in monthly expenses, families would be $315 in the red.'” [MarketWatch]

AWLA Helps Kitty with Gruesome Injury — “Today we urgently need your support for a young orange tabby with a horrific injury. On Valentine’s Day, we received a call from one of our rescue partners in West Virginia who had just taken in a cat who had been shot in the head with an arrow.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, WJLA]

YHS Athletes Prepare for Collegiate Competition — “On Feb. 5, I watched the ceremony in the cafeteria of Yorktown High School, where 20 male and female seniors announced plans to play collegiate-level football, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, baseball, tennis and track. Only 1 in 50 high school athletes play at competitive colleges, said activities director Mike Krulfeld.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Head of School for DJO — “After an extensive national search, and at the recommendation of the search committee, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, has named Mr. William Crittenberger the new Head of School at Bishop O’Connell High School, effective July 1, 2020.” [Press Release]

Nearby: Opening and Closing in Seven Corners — A new Food Star store has opened in Seven Corners, following the 2017 closure of the Food Star on Columbia Pike. Meanwhile, the Gold’s Gym in Seven Corners is reportedly closing on March 13. [Annandale Blog, Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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(Updated at 9:40 a.m.) The Ballston Harris Teeter store is set for redevelopment, but in the meantime it remains open and is reducing its hours.

Signs posted around the store say that starting Wednesday, Feb. 26 it will go from being open 24 hours a day to being open from 6 a.m. to midnight.

A reason for the change was not given. A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

It’s unclear when work on the new development will start. Apartment buildings with hundreds of units of housing, along with a new Harris Teeter store and a some public open space, are set to replace the current store, nearby Mercedes Benz dealership parking lot and a single-family home.

According to a staff report from the Arlington County Board approval of the redevelopment in November, the Harris Teeter store will remain open until the new store is built:

It is anticipated that the project will develop over three (3) major phases, with minor subphases. During Phase I, the existing ASC is demolished, and Building #1 (new Harris Teeter) is constructed, along with the streetscape and streets wrapping Building #1. The existing Harris Teeter will remain open, served by the remaining surface parking from the grocery store and ASC property, during Phase I. During Phase II, the old Harris Teeter is demolished to create new temporary surface parking, and Building #2 is constructed, along with the remaining North Tazewell Street sidewalk and street sections. The public open space will also be constructed during Phase II, and must be completed before the final Certificate of Occupancy for Tenant Occupancy in Building #2 (Condition #57). Further, temporary surface parking in the area of the old Harris Teeter / new Building #3, will be removed and planted as a temporary lawn area until Phase III begins (Condition #59). During Phase III, Building #3 is constructed, along with the remaining street and streetscape improvements wrapping the building along North Glebe Rd. and North Randolph Street and the two (2) levels of below-grade parking.

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If state Sen. Scott Surovell’s (D-36) bill passes the Virginia legislature, businesses in Arlington could be on the line for recovering shopping carts people have taken but not returned.

Senate Bill 631 would make it so that the cost of removal, including disposal, of an abandoned shopping cart will be charged to the cart’s owner. The ordinance originally applied just to Fairfax County, but Surovell said Arlington and Alexandria asked to be included in the new legislation.

Surovell told the state Senate’s Local Government Committee that his frustration was borne out of years of personally pulling shopping carts out of a creek in Fairfax.

“These carts often end up in drainage ditches and when it rains they end up going in the creek,” Surovell said. “I’ve taken 230 shopping carts out of the creek myself.”

Abandoned shopping carts have been a plague on areas of Arlington, particularly the Pentagon City area, so prevalent they inspired Twitter accounts that have obsessively documented abandoned scooters around the area for the past several years.

The bill was reported from the Local Government Committee on a narrow 8-7 vote, where it faced pushback both on the dais and from public speakers. Parker Slaybaugh, executive director of the very newly formed nonprofit Virginia Food Industry Association, said the bill would make shopping carts the only stolen property where the victim of the theft is charged for its recovery.

That criticism was a recurring theme of opposition to the bill.

“If somebody steals your property, then abandon that, I don’t think you should be charged to have to go retrieve that property,” said State Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-82th District). “Businesses already paid to purchase it, [then] somebody stole it. The right thing to do would be to charge someone who stole it.”

DeSteph compared the proposal to requiring someone whose vehicle is stolen to retrieve the vehicle or pay for it to be recovered.

“It’s one of the points people raise every year and it’s totally wrong,” Surovell fired back. “To prove someone guilty of petty larceny [you] have to show intent to permanently deprive someone of something. The reason you don’t see these people charged with crimes is because it’s not a crime.”

Surovell said the legislation included a section that would allow localities to make it a civil infraction to take the carts from the business owner, though a police officer speaking at the meeting who claimed to have arrested someone for stealing a shopping cart disagreed with Surovell’s statement that it wasn’t a crime.

Sarah Taylor, Alexandria’s legislative director, said the city had asked to join the ordinance to give them another “tool in a toolbox” to encourage businesses to better manage their carts, such as geofencing.

Surovell also noted that at ALDI, customers put a quarter in to get the cart, get a quarter back when it is returned.

“It’s not about punishing the victim,” Surovell argued. “Retailers could take steps to keep this from happening, they just choose not to do it.”

https://twitter.com/CartChaos22202/status/1160961457388949505

Photo (top) via Scott Surovell/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Fire on Columbia Pike Sunday — Arlington County firefighters extinguished a kitchen fire in an apartment building on the 1900 block of Columbia Pike Sunday afternoon. One resident was displaced by the blaze. [Twitter/@ArlingtonVaFD]

Ballston Launches ‘Gnome’ Promotion — “Starting December 16th through December 20th, look for the Ballston Holiday Gnome spreading cheer all around the neighborhood. Find our holiday helper, and you’ll win gifts from some of our favorite Ballston restaurants and stores.” [Facebook]

Skylight Replacement at Arlington National — “After 30 years, the skylight in the @ArlingtonNatl Welcome Center is being repaired under the watchful eye of our Engineering team. As always, the cemetery remains open while we improve your experience.” [Twitter/@KDurhamAguilera]

Amazon Opening Smaller Office in NYC Post-HQ2 — “The giant online retailer said it has signed a new lease for 335,000 square feet on Manhattan’s west side in the new Hudson Yards neighborhood, where it will have more than 1,500 employees. The new lease represents Amazon’s largest expansion in New York since the company stunned the city by abandoning plans to locate its second headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City.” [Wall Street Journal, Crain’s New York BusinessTwitter/@ProfGalloway]

Nearby: Shoppers Closing in Potomac Yard — “Shoppers is closing in Potomac Yard, its parent company announced today. The supermarket, at 3801 Richmond Highway, is expected to close by the end of January. Other Shoppers stores in Manassas, Baltimore and Severn (Maryland) are also closing, and the company is selling 13 other locations.” [ALXnow]

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Morning Notes

Crows Are Swarming Rosslyn at Dusk — “As the sun begins to sink below the horizon, ghostly caws and flapping wings echo through the air. Then, they come in droves. Hundreds, if not thousands, of huge, black birds darken the sky, swooping through buildings and swarming like giant gnats. This Hitchcockian scene is a typical Tuesday in North Rosslyn.” [Washingtonian]

New Candidate for School BoardCristina Diaz-Torres has announced that she is running for Arlington School Board to replace Tannia Talento, who is not seeking a second term. Diaz-Torres is planning a campaign launch event on Columbia Pike this Sunday. [Twitter, Facebook]

Arlington Residents Are Up at All Hours — “The massive Nov. 8 water-main break underneath Chain Bridge Road taught Arlington public-works officials a number of lessons. Among them: Some county residents are up and at ’em in the wee hours of the morning. The county government received its first call complaining of no water at 2:59 a.m., a mere three minutes after the rupture of the 36-inch, 75-year-old pipe.” [InsideNova]

More on GMU Arlington Campus Expansion — “As George Mason University leaders celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school’s Arlington campus, they promise that its Amazon-inspired expansion will be ‘unlike any building ever built’ by a state institution.” [Washington Business Journal]

Upgrades for 911 Call Center — “The County’s 9-1-1 call processing system was upgraded today! Our staff are thrilled to have made the switch to this top of the line system that will allow us to best collaborate with neighboring jurisdictions and serve the community.” [Twitter]

NORAD Exercises Planned Tonight — “Don’t be frightened if you see and hear military aircraft speeding overhead… The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is expected to conduct air exercises over the Washington area from Thursday night into early Friday morning. Flights are scheduled between midnight and 5:30 a.m.” [WTOP]

Five Year Anniversary of Streetcar Cancellation — “Five years ago this week – Nov. 18, 2014 – County Board Chairman Jay Fisette stood somewhat grimly in front of a microphone and TV cameras to announce that Arlington officials were abandoning plans for a streetcar system in the Columbia Pike corridor.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Food Star to Open in Bailey’s Crossroads — “A Food Star grocery store is opening up in the former Toys R Us building at 5521 Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads – possibly by the end of the year.” [Annandale Blog]

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