Rep. Don Beyer announced yesterday that he has requested federal funds to go toward a health initiative and two parks projects in Arlington County.
If approved, the funding would fund repaving a section of the Bluemont Junction Trail and repairing replacing a key pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park. It would also purchase vehicles needed by a mobile response team that would respond to behavioral health crises rather than police.
The money would come from the Fiscal Year 2022 Community Project Funding Program, which provides targeted funding for local projects nationwide. Representatives were able to submit requests for up to 10 projects but there is no guarantee of approval. Beyer also requested money for projects benefiting the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church as well as Fairfax County.
“The infrastructure requests would enhance pedestrian routes in the region, support [electric vehicles] and other environmentally friendly initiatives, fund mental health resources, and support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras for the Alexandria Police Department,” Beyer said. “These are worthy projects deserving of federal funding.”
For the Bluemont Junction Trail, Beyer requested $325,000 to repave a segment of the trail and adjacent connector paths, improvements that the county identified during a 2018 trails assessment.
“The current trail pavement and connectors are in deteriorating condition with limited or poor access from adjacent and intersecting streets,” the announcement said.
Beyer requested $800,000 to replace the Glencarlyn Park pedestrian bridge lost during the July 2019 flash flooding. So far, only the Lubber Run Park bridge has been replaced, although the Glencarlyn bridge was also included in Arlington’s adopted 2021 Capital Improvements Plan.
“Of the six pedestrian bridges lost in the flooding event, the most important one for connectivity is the bridge in Glencarlyn Park,” Beyer’s announcement said. “This bridge connects the main park area, dog exercise area and neighboring communities to the west of Four Mile Run to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The bridge connection is important as both a commuter connection and for recreation and leisure walks on the W&OD Trail.”
On behalf of Arlington County, Beyer requested $390,000 to purchase two medically-equipped vehicles to be used by a team tasked with responding to mental health crises. Arlington’s Police Practices Group recently recommended that the county transition from dispatching police to such incidents to sending out a specialized mobile crisis response unit.
“The requested funds will support a ‘Help not Handcuffs’ approach to ensure that persons in behavioral health crises receive the most appropriate assistance needed when and where they need it,” Beyer’s announcement said. “A behavioral health response vs. a law enforcement response will increase community-based mental health care, decrease emergency department use, reduce inpatient admissions, divert from the criminal justice system and supports racial justice.”
In its lengthy report, the Police Practices Group also recommended procuring specialized vehicles or retrofitting existing ones for the mobile crisis unit.
The vehicles would supplement $574,000 in the county’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget to support an enhanced mental health crisis response program in the Department of Human Services. That allocation would fund a physician’s assistant, nurse, clinician, transport van and operating supplies.
Photo via Flickr pool user Tom Mockler
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.
The finish line is in sight for a Clarendon-based startup that has developed a wearable breathing sensor called Respa.
Zansors, located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, has created an inch-square device that connects to a mobile app, showing wearers their breathing patterns. Originally created to help people screen themselves for sleep apnea from the comfort of their home, Zansors has also tailored the product to fit the needs of fitness enthusiasts who want additional data on their exercise.
The company has been around nearly nine years, during which time the product has gone through research and development and has been beset by engineering and developmental delays, said co-founder Abhijit Dasgupta. Now, Zansors is in the final stages of developing the app and connecting it to the device.
“We’re looking forward to ramping up this spring and getting out the door in the summer,” Dasgupta said. “It’s obviously a good feeling that we’re in the final stretch. It’s a lot of work, effort and sweat equity. The hiccups have been frustrating, but we’re just trying to hammer it home.”
Dasgupta, who has a doctorate in biostatistics and previously worked in medical research, said the idea for a wearable breathing sensor came from seeing how common — but under-detected — sleep apnea is.
“To create a device that can allow you to detect it at home, you wouldn’t have to get wired up, and spend the night in a foreign bed,” Dasgupta said. “We felt sleep studies weren’t reflective of your own sleep experience.”
The wearable sensor detects how sleepers move and breathe and warns doctors of abnormal patterns, he said. But Respa is a screening product, not a diagnostic one, he said.
Over time, Zansors started looking into other areas where breath and motion are synced, and made it work for athletes and fitness buffs.
“It’s the same device, leveraged in different ways,” he said.
Dasgupta and his team have other ideas for repurposing the product for respiratory diseases, something at the forefront of their minds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although it has become fodder for future development, the pandemic has also hurt Zansors’ ability to travel, meet buyers and clients and raise investment money, Dasgupta said. When personal protective equipment was hard to come by, Zansors pivoted to selling high-quality masks with filters, which it sold to several U.S. Army and Air Force bases, he said. Now that PPE is easier to find again, Zansors has refocused on the Respa.
The company is also in active talks about possible military usage of the device, Dasgupta said.
“There are plenty of ideas out there but we need to get this out the door so that we can put this in the ‘done’ column,” he said.
Initially, most of Zansors’ work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, through its Small Business Innovation Research grant program, as well as a few investors in Northern Virginia. The Arlington community specifically has been supportive of Zansors, Dasgupta said.
“I think it’s great that we’re in Arlington,” Dasgupta said. “Arlington is a great place to center a business because there’s so much going on: There’s so much networking and the business development groups are good.”
(Updated 4:30 p.m.) Arlington County officials are acknowledging the fear, anger and frustration people feel and are asking for patience as vaccine plans change.
During the County Board meeting on Saturday, board member Libby Garvey said the state and federal governments are “moving the goalposts, changing the rules and switching out equipment.” County Manager Mark Schwartz said that in the distribution process, “chaos is reigning.”
“I hear the pain and the upset and I don’t blame people for feeling that way,” Garvey later told ARLnow.
About 50% of Virginians are eligible for doses because of their age, job or health condition, but the state is telling local jurisdictions that it will take until March or April to get through this group unless the slow drip of supply from the federal government is sped up.
“There are simply not enough doses available yet for everyone who is eligible to receive them,” said Craig Fifer, a liaison on vaccines between the state and local governments.
During the Saturday County Board meeting, when the news that Virginia Hospital Center had to cancel thousands of appointments was still fresh, Board member Christian Dorsey mused that the county cannot solve the bigger problems, but it can explain them better.
“Maybe we can lean into our role of helping our community understand [the rollout],” he said.
Here’s what we know.
Who has been vaccinated?
According to the state vaccine dashboard, nearly 24,000 doses have been shipped to Arlington County but as of this week, only 7,850 of them have gone to Arlington Public Health Division. Some went to VHC and others are earmarked for the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate long-term care residents.
Public Health Division spokesman Ryan Hudson also attributed the gap to reporting delays, since providers sometimes take up to 72 hours to log administered doses.
Arlington County is not “holding onto the vaccine, except [to get] ready for the following week,” Arlington County’s Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said on Saturday. He said he saves about 10% of vaccines as a contingency until a new shipment comes.
Hudson said that the county’s public health division and VHC can together administer at least 2,000 doses per day, based on infrastructure, staff and preparation.
“We can do more if we were assured a greater supply of doses from Virginia,” he said.
Virginia is currently receiving approximately 105,000 new doses per week, a pace that could increase by 16% in the near future, said Fifer, who also serves as communications director for the City of Alexandria.
Like Arlington, the Commonwealth is seeing gaps between delivered and administered doses. The state has worked to close these gaps by redistributing doses, reducing data entry backlogs and accounting for the status of doses sent to CVS and Walgreens, Fifer said. About half of doses marked as received, but not administered, are earmarked for second doses.
Who is eligible?
About 50% of Virginia is currently eligible under Phase 1B, which Gov. Ralph Northam has expanded to those 65 and older and those younger than 65 with high-risk medical conditions.
As you may have noticed by now, wearing our masks can cause unwanted effects on our skin.
The most important thing you can do to prevent breakouts and irritation is to keep your skin clean and well moisturized. Before and after wearing your mask, cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser then apply a fragrance-free, non comedogenic moisturizer to your skin.
For a deeper skin reset, Broadband Light Therapy (BBL) has been a saving grace at ProMD Health during this pandemic. The intense pulsed light energy of BBL can safely penetrate the top layer of skin to stimulate cell regeneration and collagen production, which can clear up acne and prevent its return. Increased collagen production can make your skin smoother, more vibrant, minimize pores and give it an even, glowing tone.
The entire procedure is very quick. You should expect to spend between 30 minutes to one hour getting treated. In the days following treatment, you’re going to notice that your breakouts are healing, fine lines are less noticeable, your pores are smaller and your skin feels smoother.
Call ProMD Health today at 410-449-2060 or visit them online to schedule your free BBL consultation.
High school athletes can start working out in-person next week, regardless of whether they chose distance- or hybrid-learning, Arlington Public Schools has announced.
Starting Monday, Oct. 12, APS will be using stadiums, tracks and fields for student workouts and athletic activities. While students exercise, the facilities will be closed to public use.
“During the APS athletic workouts, staff will be following COVID precautions and therefore all school facilities (stadiums, track, fields) will be closed to the public,” the school system said. “It is important that the community respect the closure and practice social distancing.”
APS is currently conducting remote learning only, but preparing to bring students back in a “hybrid” model, with most students spending two days per week in schools and other students able to opt to continue a distance learning-only program.
The school system previously said it would be screening kids daily, including temperature checks before participating in sports. Students are encouraged to check with their coach and school’s athletic webpage for more information.
School athletic facilities will be closed on the following days and times, according to APS.
Greenbrier Stadium (Yorktown) and fields
Monday, Thursday and Friday, closed from 3:30-8 p.m; Tuesday and Wednesday, closed from 3:30-7:15 p.m.
Wakefield Stadium and fields
Monday through Friday, closed 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Washington-Liberty Stadium and fields
Monday through Friday, closed 3:30-7:30 p.m.
With dental offices reopening around the country, it’s likely your next dental appointment will look and feel a little different as new safety protocols are implemented.
Below, Drs. Hartman and Morrow explain the steps their office, Elite Dental, has taken to allow patients to receive dental care safely amidst COVID-19. Dentistry is essential health care, so if you have questions regarding your own office’s safety, give them a call and ask about their safety measures to ensure your comfort in returning.
Personal Protective Equipment
Your clinical team is outfitted with the highest level of PPE including an N95 mask layered with a level 3 mask, glasses, face shield, gloves, head covering, lab jacket and office-designated shoes. We promise, we’re still the same smiling faces behind all this gear!
A temperature check is completed before any patient comes into our office, followed by completion of a COVID-19 screening form. Our team also has their temperature tested twice a day, we’re in it with you!
We’ve lengthened our appointments and staggered start times to minimize traffic in our office and limit the number of people you come in contact with. You can also expect to be kept separate in our waiting space and during check-out.
We have each patient rinse for 30 seconds with a peroxyl mouthwash. This rinse is important as it reduces the viral load in your saliva, which minimizes potentially unhealthy aerosolized droplets in the air of treatment rooms.
During procedures that produce aerosols, we use a specialized suctioning device, the Isolite, that significantly minimizes any aerosols from escaping into the air.
With the previously mentioned precautions, there should be minimal unwanted droplets in the air. However, you’ll also find multiple medical grade air filters with a rating of HEPA-13 to help clean and purify, ensuring clean air for each patient.
While we always clean surfaces thoroughly and to OSHA standards, we’ve ensured all waiting room surfaces, door handles and any high traffic areas are sanitized multiple times throughout the day.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain your regular cleanings, and that prevention is key for your gum and overall tooth health. There IS a way to receive dental care safely, now is not the time to put off treatment that could cause dental emergencies down the road!
Virginia Hospital Center (1701 N. George Mason Drive) has opened up a new suite of patient rooms, each a bit larger than the typical hospital rooms with some features designed with COVID-19 in mind.
“Virginia Hospital Center’s new 4th floor patient unit and nurses’ station opened in August, adding 21 more private rooms that are 30% larger than VHC’s standard rooms,” a spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement. “The interior design of the new unit continues the clean, modern aesthetic of the VHC campus creating a comforting space for patients and families.”
The hospital said that each room will have a bathroom and shower, with individual temperature controls, televisions, a sofa for families, a reclining chair and bench.
Perhaps the most important feature, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is that each room can be converted to negative pressure, which lowers air pressure and requires any air leaving the room to pass through a filter.
“Each patient room also has the ability to convert to negative pressure — an important feature when treating patients with highly contagious conditions, such as COVID-19,” the hospital said. “Negative pressure traps and keeps potentially harmful air particles within the room by preventing internal air from leaving the space.”
The floor plan for the new unit also includes high-visibility nurses’ stations, along with private patient and family consultation rooms and a new lobby.
“Every aspect of the new unit was carefully designed with the needs of both patients and caregivers in mind,” the hospital said, “and to create a nurturing environment that is conducive to healing.”
Separately, Virginia Hospital Center is in the midst of a major expansion project.
Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) is hoping to help locals shed their Quarantine 15, keep Arlington as the fittest “city” in the U.S., and provided some timely assistance to local businesses.
BallstonMOVES Fitness Week is a new initiative running this week from the BID that provides free access or certain discounts to the many gyms and fitness centers around Ballston — like the newly opened VIDA Fitness. The program started on Saturday, Aug. 1, and is scheduled to run until Sunday, Aug. 9.
“The health and well-being of the community is the Ballston BID’s highest priority,” stated Tina Leone, CEO, Ballston BID. “Many gyms are currently offering virtual class options, and all are ensuring proper distancing through reduced class sizes, in addition to maintaining enhanced hygiene practices for in-person classes and visits.”
Many local gyms have been taking health precautions as they start to reopen, but going to a gym — or anywhere indoors where people are congregating — still remains a fairly risky pandemic activity. Those who are feeling unwell or uneasy are encouraged to take advantage of some of the virtual training programs offered, the BID said.
Free classes are available at:
- Ballston CrossFit (1110 N. Glebe Road): Free trial classes are scheduled today (Monday) at 6:45 p.m. and Saturday, Aug 8 at 12 p.m. Online registration is required. The gym is also offering six beginning classes for $99.
- F45 Training (3865 Wilson Blvd): One free class to anyone who signs up with the code BALLSTONBID, with three more classes available for $10 per class and a 45% discount on the first two months of membership. The first 25 who sign up are also eligible for a free F45 water bottle and sweat towel.
- Studio Body Logic (4600 N. Fairfax Drive): the pilates studio is offering free virtual classes on Thursday, Aug. 6, from 7-7:50 p.m. and Friday, Aug. 7, from 12-12:50 p.m. with 24-hour advance registration required. In-person, masked tours are also available this week by contacting [email protected]
- Praxi Pilates (4141 N. Henderson Road): a pilates program in a condo building is offering 30-minute free sessions this week, featuring an orientation to equipment-based pilates. Sessions are held Monday, Aug. 3, at 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7 at 12 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 8 at 11:30 p.m. Sessions are limited to one per person, but special discounts on future classes are offered.
- Onelife Fitness (4238 Wilson Blvd): the Ballston Quarter gym is offering free Zone4 classes from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8. Class sizes are limited to eight people.
- Orange Theory Fitness (4201 Wilson Blvd): the training program is offering a free first class, available to be scheduled by contacting 571-257-0050 or emailing [email protected]
- VIDA Fitness (4040 Wilson Blvd): a complementary SweatBox class at the newly-opened gym, the first of its kind outside of D.C.
Other programs are offering discounts, but not free first classes to the general public.
- BASH Boxing (700 N. Randolph Street): the boxing workout program is offering free first classes, but only to those who sign up for a discounted ten-class pack during their first class.
- Gold’s Gym Ballston (3910 Wilson Blvd): the popular Ballston Gold’s Gym is offering discounted monthly dues of $29.99 per month for those who sign up this week.
Photo via VIDA Fitness/Facebook
Arlington County has accepted a grant that will help expand the county’s Behavioral Health Docket program — a service that diverts people with mental illnesses into treatment rather into jail.
The program accepts people who have diagnosed mental illnesses and have been charged with misdemeanors. Last November, a requirement for those in the program to plead guilty was eliminated.
The $146,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will primarily go to funding a full-time therapist position for two years. According to the staff report:
The position will assist program participants in developing and enhancing skills related to self-care, physical wellness, development of family and peer leisure pursuits, conflict resolution, stress management, positive peer modeling, developing a greater level of independence, improving treatment compliance, and increasing access to recreational groups and self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous). Projected caseload for this position is 16-20 clients based on benchmarking and past experience.
“[This is] going to expand the behavioral health docket program services,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey, “something advocated for and needed for quite a while.”
The staff report says that other parts of the grant funding will go to:
- Group materials
- Emergency housing placements
- Cell phones
- Obtaining proper identification cards
- Behavioral intervention consultation
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Virginia’s Phase 3 reopening starts today, with relaxed rules for restaurants, stores, fitness studios and social gatherings.
But as new coronavirus cases continue to surge in the South and West, the reopening raises the specter of Virginia’s waning epidemic returning.
Unlike New Jersey, which recently postponed the return of indoor dining, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is opting to continue reopening indoor, communal settings. He announced yesterday, however, that bar seating will be prohibited inside restaurants.
Arlington County, meanwhile, is encouraging residents to stay “safer at home” and to continue social distancing, telecommuting, and wearing masks in indoor public settings.
“Because Arlington is an urban, high-density area — and because there is still community spread of the virus — the County is going to similarly move forward with caution in the hopes of continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety and well-being of the entire community,” the county said in a press release today.
The press release notes that fitness rooms and gyms will reopen at four community centers — Fairlington, Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Langston Brown — next Friday, July 10.
The good news for Arlington is that the current level of coronavirus spread remains low: five new cases were reported overnight, for a seven-day total of 46. The seven-day rate of new hospitalizations stands at just three, a new low since such data started to be reliably reported by the Virginia Dept. of Health.
The county press release about the reopening is below.
Arlington County, along with the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, is transitioning to Phase 3 of the Forward Virginia plan on Wednesday, July 1.
In Phase 3, Arlington will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing and teleworking, and the requirement that individuals wear face coverings in indoor public settings. All businesses should continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces and keep enhanced workplace safety measures in place.
As part of a cautious approach to entering Phase 3, Governor Northam on Tuesday announced that bar seating will remain prohibited in restaurants to reduce the likelihood of patrons gathering in bar areas without observing social distancing guidelines. The Governor added he is prepared to implement tighter restrictions if needed.
Because Arlington is an urban, high-density area — and because there is still community spread of the virus — the County is going to similarly move forward with caution in the hopes of continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety and well-being of the entire community.
Arlington will continue to open government facilities gradually to ensure adequate space for social distancing and follow public health guidelines. […]
Playgrounds and Outdoor Restrooms Now Open, Select Fitness Rooms to Open July 10
Continuing its gradual reopening, in according with public health and safety guidelines, Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation reopened playgrounds and outdoor restrooms, including playgrounds located at Arlington Public Schools, effective Friday, June 26. Additionally, athletic field and court lighting returned to regular schedules.
Starting Friday, July 10, fitness rooms and gyms will reopen in four of DPR’s centers: Fairlington, Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Langston Brown.
Community and nature centers and spraygrounds remain closed.
When he was in the midst of a protracted battle with a severe case of COVID-19, Arlington resident and former local restaurateur Mohammed “Jimmy” Khan said he realized he wished his life had more purpose.
“I’ve been home for a month,” Khan said. “I’ve been much better. The day I came home I was so weak I couldn’t turn myself on my side.”
Khan said his first symptom was a fever that kept going up, but it was early in the pandemic and he didn’t suspect at first that it might be COVID-19.
“I was thinking it was just the regular flu, the seasonal flu,” Khan said. “My fever was going up and I did not pay attention. I thought it was just one of those every few years things. I didn’t pay attention that much. For 10 days I didn’t bother to go to the hospital, I just managed myself with Tylenol.”
During the day, Khan said it would seem to get better, but at night it would return.
“I had miscalculated,” Khan said. “When I came to [Virginia Hospital Center] they sent me back home for three days before I went to Fairfax Hospital. There they tested me for coronavirus and it was positive.”
Khan said his memories from the hospital, and from the days just before he tested positive, are hazy.
“I lost my memories,” Khan said. “I don’t even remember coming to the Arlington hospital. I don’t remember how many days I stayed there. Once I went home, when I came back, I’d learned I’d been to Arlington hospital because my family told me.”
By the time he arrived at Inova Fairfax, Khan said his temperature was 110 degrees. Khan was put into an ECMO machine for two weeks, which he credited with saving his life.
His first memory upon waking up was hospital workers trying to help him video conference with his family.
“When I first woke up, we tried to FaceTime my family,” Khan said, “but I had no power to talk or even keep my eyes open.”
Khan said his body is still sore and he has a hard time sitting down or moving around too much, but he’s managed to walk around the block a little further every week or so.
The frightening encounter with the pandemic has left Khan rattled and reevaluating his priorities.
“It’s hard when you see your life,” Khan said. “It makes me think everybody should do good deeds.”
During the hospital stay and in the long struggle to get back to normal afterward, Khan says he’s felt depressed and hopes to do more good with his life.
“I’ll probably have to give my life a little direction,” Khan said. “I’m thinking of doing more volunteering, anything I can do to bring discipline in my life. I used to not take care of myself, not give time to my family.”
Khan said he spent much of his life working in restaurants and he hopes, after the pandemic, to cut work out entirely and spend more of his time with his family. It’s a realization that Khan said he feels thankful for.
“I feel very blessed,” he said.
Photos courtesy Nargis Mughal