Members of the County Board were at odds at its Tuesday night meeting over a resolution that would support the federal government’s efforts to address responsible use of antibiotics in health care and food production.
The primary goal of the resolution is to “establish a tiebreaker preference in County procurement policies for the purchase of meat and poultry that has been raised according to responsible antibiotic use policies.”
The resolution also calls for working with Arlington Public Schools on a similar antibiotic policy, which would — other things being equal — prefer the purchase of responsibly produced meats for school lunch programs.
“Although Arlington County has few meat and poultry food contracts and does not purchase large quantities of these products, the preference created today signals to the marketplace the County’s desire to join the national effort to drive changes in food production practices that will create healthier alternatives and support public health,” the county said in a press release.
Board member John Vihstadt, however, opposed a specific paragraph of the resolution that said:
“Supports legislative efforts to prevent the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in food production, such as S. 621, the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2015 and H.R. 1552, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2015…”
Vihstadt made a motion to strike the citations of specific federal legislation from the resolution, citing no Virginia senators nor members of Congress who are co-sponsors of either bill.
“We haven’t been briefed on this legislation, we have not seen the bills, and we haven’t — at least I have not — had any communication with our congressional delegation on these pieces of legislation,” he said at the meeting.
The motion to strike the citations failed, though Board member Libby Garvey also voted in favor of it.
“I don’t think we as a Board should be going on record supporting two specific pieces of federal regulation at this stage,” Vihstadt added. “There may be a time when we ought to do that, but I don’t think so at this stage.”
Board member Jay Fisette, who proposed the resolution, said the measures have been under consideration at least the past six months.
“We have done this before, and it’s not breaking new ground to identify a piece of legislation that this County, with its values, stands behind,” Fisette said.
The majority of the Board agreed, saying this would be an opportunity for Arlington to be bold and show local support for federal action before state legislators or other regional governments.
“This is about our health and our kids’ health,” Fisette added. “It’s making a statement and hoping to build and establish partnerships that allow the purchasing power of our government to help address a serious public health issue.”
The resolution passed, in its entirety, with a vote of 4-0-1. Vihstadt abstained.
“I would be supporting this for all the reasons Mr. Fisette and others have said,” he said before the vote, “were it not for the endorsement of two specific pieces of federal legislation.”
(Updated at 8:45 p.m.) Arlington residents will be able to cast their votes and get a free flu shot on Election Day next Tuesday.
Flu shots will be offered from 9-11 a.m. at Key Elementary School (2300 Key Blvd) on Nov. 3.
To get a free shot, people will have to volunteer for a public health emergency simulation, which lasts about 30 minutes.
During the simulation, volunteers will fill out some paperwork, speak with a medication dispensing representative and then receive M&Ms or animal crackers, which represent medication, said Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
The simulation is meant to help the county and staff prepare for a medical emergency where they may have to dispense medicine, Larrick said.
Practicing for a public health emergency gives county planners and staff hands-on experience, Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said in a statement.
“This is a great opportunity for members of the community to protect themselves against the flu,” Varghese said. “But it’s about more than that. What we’re really doing is testing our ability to deliver medications during a public health emergency. These simulations give our planners and other staff valuable hands-on experience, and by moving the exercise around the county we are able to evaluate different sites for challenges and opportunities.”
Flu activity is currently low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The public health agency recommends everyone ages six months and up gets a flu shot, adding that the flu can cause thousands of hospitalizations and deaths each year.
Fundraiser for Arlington Store Owner — The owner of Maley’s Music (2499 N. Harrison Street) has been hospitalized with a rare disease, just weeks after his wife suffered a debilitating stroke. That has prompted the couple’s daughter to start an online fundraiser to help the family pay its expenses. [Facebook, GoFundMe]
Arlington’s Inaccessible Bus Stops — About two thirds of Arlington’s 1,100 bus stops are not fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Metro estimates that the average cost of upgrading a bus stop to ADA standards is $10,000. [Washington Post]
USS Arlington Readies for Deployment — More than two years after its commissioning, the USS Arlington is getting ready for deployment. The ship has a 40 year expected lifespan in active naval service. [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
Grant for New Bikeshare Stations OKed — Arlington County will receive nearly $300,000 from the federal government to install eight new Capital Bikeshare stations along the GW Parkway. Among the locations set for a new Bikeshare station are Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Gravelly Point Park and Reagan National Airport. [Arlington County]
Jefferson Davis Name Change Unlikely — The Virginia General Assembly is not likely to approve changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway any time soon. “Jefferson Davis was an avid racist and segregationist… But there’s not a whole lot of people clamoring about it except coffee-shop liberals in Arlington,” Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Sun Gazette. Plus, Arlington County already has numerous streets and schools named after slaveholders. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
APS Honored for Healthy Food Options — Arlington Public Schools has received the top award in the “Healthy School Meals” category of the 2015 Virginia School Boards Association Food for Thought Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]
Lighting Task Force Approved — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved the appointment of a citizen working group that will study the issue of athletic lighting in Arlington. After a public process, the group is expected to come back to the Board in 11 months with a recommendation as to whether all artificial turf fields in the county should have lighting, a controversial issue for many who live near such fields. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington has been named the sixth-healthiest “city” in America, according to a ranking that takes lifestyle, access to healthcare and environment all into account.
Livability.com — the same website that named Arlington the third-best place to live last year — said Arlington’s access to exercise, recreation, healthy food and low obesity rate all factored in to its ranking.
“Nearly every resident of Arlington, Va., can access healthy foods and places to exercise,” the website says in its blurb about Arlington. “Arlington is filled with parks that offer great hikes, athletic fields, and leisurely strolls and private fitness centers offering yoga, Pilates, CrossFit and a variety of other workouts.”
Topping the list is Minneapolis, Minn., followed by Cambridge, Mass., and Madison, Wisc. Madison was named the best place for recent college graduates to live last week and was No. 1 on Livability’s best places to live rankings.
Arlington was named the healthiest county in Virginia last month. The county’s obesity rate is less than 20 percent, and its network of trails, roads with bike lanes and cycle tracks and Metro-accessible development give residents opportunities to stay in shape while commuting to work. Not only do Arlington residents have access to doctors, the website said, they also use them: about 83 percent of residents receive diabetic screenings.
Access to healthy food, recycling programs, not smoking and “drinking in moderation” were also listed as factors for Arlington’s place in the rankings.
A Columbia Pike church preschool has shut down indefinitely after asbestos dust was found in the floors.
Trinity Episcopal Church‘s School of Early Learning sent out a letter to parents on Tuesday, confirming the presence of asbestos dust in the air at the school. The church’s rector, Rev. Kim Coleman, also serves as the school’s headmaster and said the more than 100 students will not be allowed to enter the building for an “indeterminate amount of time.”
“We are presently looking for a temporary site for the school and as soon as we have more information we will let you know,” the letter states. “Please know that we are sorry for these unexpected developments and hope you understand that the measures we are taking we consider to be in the best interest of our students and staff.”
When reached by ARLnow.com, Coleman declined to comment before she could speak to the church’s board. A tipster, who sent us Coleman’s letter, said volunteers were cleaning the preschool when they ripped up flooring, releasing asbestos dust into the air.
“Chaos ensued when folks figured out what had happened,” the tipster wrote. “School was canceled indefinitely. Testing occurred, it came back positive, and now 100-plus kids don’t have a daycare to go to. Who knows if the church has the money to remediate asbestos.”
Coleman’s letter said the church has “consulted a professional asbestos remediation company” and was hoping for an estimate yesterday. The Trinity Church building was built in 1957, and the congregation is 111 years old. Trinity traces its origins back to a chapel for local slaves built by George Washington Parke Custis in the early 1800s, according to the church’s website.
Update at 4:05 p.m. Friday — Rev. Coleman tells ARLnow.com: “We have been dealing with this situation with an abundance of caution and with the advice of environmental professionals since we became aware of it. We will develop a plan of action for going forward as soon as possible and we are keeping the parents apprised of the situation. Our building was built in the early 1950’s and our program currently has 75 students enrolled.
Alleged Bank Robber Was Staying at Retirement Home — The FBI tracked down an accused bank robber in an Arlington on Friday thanks to his cell phone usage. The so-called Bicycle Bandit is accused of a dozen bank robberies, including a robbery in Alexandria just a few hours prior to his arrest. Investigators used phone records to figure out his identity. The suspect, Woosen Assaye, was staying at his father’s apartment at The Carlin retirement home at the time of his arrest. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]
Arlington Named Healthiest County in Va. — A new study has named Arlington County as the healthiest county in Virginia. Albemarle, Fairfax and Loudoun ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. [Associated Press]
Fehr Reads to Key Students — Washington Capitals player Eric Fehr read his new anti-bullying book to students at Key Elementary School yesterday. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]
Blue Line Issues — A Blue Line train suffering mechanical problems offloaded passengers at the Pentagon station this morning, causing overcrowding on the platform. [Twitter]
The number represents only 0.4 percent of the 24,529 students currently enrolled in APS. There are only two reasons a student is allowed to attend school without receiving proper immunizations: medical or religious reasons.
“For a medical exemption, a letter must be written from a licensed medical provider stating specifically from which immunizations a child is exempt,” Arlington School Health Bureau Chief Marian Harmon said in an email. “For a religious exemption, the parent must complete the religious exemption form for immunizations and have it notarized.”
Childhood vaccinations have been thrust into the national spotlight after a measles outbreak started at Disneyland in California and has spread to at least 94 people in eight states, according to NBC News. The disease had been largely eradicated in the U.S., but since the Centers for Disease Control reported the disease was brought from overseas, children whose parents declined vaccinations have fallen victim to the highly contagious infection.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle have urged parents to vaccinate their children, shooting down controversial reports from years back that linked vaccinations to autism. Those studies have since been debunked, but the anti-vaccination movement is still prevalent enough in the U.S. to contribute to the largest number of measles cases in 20 years.
Harmon says APS tracks which students have vaccination exemptions, and makes sure to notify parents when there is a disease outbreak at the child’s school.
“School Health works with Arlington Public Schools and Arlington County Communicable Disease staff to determine the needs for that student and their exposure risk,” she said.
APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said there are no suspected cases of measles in the county.
What exactly does it mean to be healthy? For many of us, “good health” is just a vague notion — until something goes wrong and we’re forced to take a closer look.
In this series of biweekly columns we’ll discuss what factors — other than genetics — contribute to our mental and physical well being, including fitness, nutrition and even how we think about our lives. The goal is for all of us to start taking control of our own health!
When was the last time you felt great? Maybe it’s right now. But maybe you’ve been feeling sluggish and run down and you can’t quite figure out why.
What if I told you there was one thing you could eliminate or cut way back on that would help you lose weight and feel better, and even help stave off sickness and disease? Would you give it a try?
Can you guess what I’m referring to? Here are a few hints:
- This ingredient is hidden in many foods.
- It goes by at least 20 different names.
- It affects our weight, moods, appetite, complexion and energy levels.
- It’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and increased risk of cancer.
What ingredient do all these items share?
Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed sugar! That’s right, all of the above processed foods have added sugar to make them taste better to consumers and to reap big profits for the food manufacturers — who don’t give a darn about your health.
What’s so bad about sugar anyway, as long as we don’t eat too many calories? Well, there’s nothing wrong with having a sweet every now and then. The problem is that our bodies are just not meant to process the huge amount of sugar the average American now eats on a daily basis: 22.7 teaspoons a day! (The recommended daily amount is not more than 6 teaspoons for women, 9 for men.)
911 Outage Report Released — A report regarding Northern Virginia’s 911 outage following last summer’s derecho storm calls on Verizon to provide an audit of its entire 911 infrastructure. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Board of Directors approved the report, which found that the outage was caused by the loss of commercial power and the subsequent failure of one of the two backup generators in each of Verizon’s Arlington and Fairfax central offices. Improper maintenance and incident response also reportedly contributed to the outage. [MWCOG]
Arlington Third Healthiest County in Virginia — A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers indicates that Arlington is the third healthiest county in the state. Coming in first is Fairfax County, followed by Loudoun County. The study examined data from nearly every county in the nation. Overall, Northern Virginia counties fared better than those in the southern parts of the state. [WTOP]
Key Elementary School Educator Chosen as Teacher of the Year — The 2013 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year is a fourth grade educator at Key Elementary School. Erica Russell has been teaching at the school since 2006. She will be honored by the School Board on May 15, and is the county’s nominee for the 2013 Virginia Teacher of the Year Competition. [Sun Gazette]
The new vending machines are part of the county’s FitArlington initiative. At first, about half of the contents of the vending machines will contain healthier snack options that are lower in calories, fat and sugar.
One such snack machine includes options like baked potato chips, Clif bars, Nutrigrain bars, Sun Chips, 100 calorie sweet packs and other options. Drink machines will offer low-fat milk, low-calorie teas and bottled water — although the county is discouraging people from buying the latter.
“Our FitArlington Healthy Vending machines will have water but remember that it’s better for the environment to bring your own bottle and fill it up at a nearby drinking fountain,” the county said in a press release (after the jump).
The vending machines will first be deployed to county office buildings then are expected to be installed in community centers and parks starting in August. (Long Bridge Park, which was in need of vending machines, got an early installation.)
The machines are provided by a vendor at no cost to the county, according to spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
Board Members Want More Capital Projects — Arlington County Board members don’t want to stop new capital spending projects, saying that “now is not the time to stop investing in the future of the community.” Board members say that interest rates are low and the construction market is competitive making new building projects cheaper than they might be in the future. [Sun Gazette]
Reporter Peeved About FOIA Fees — Connection Newspapers reporter Michael Lee Pope is continuing his crusade against public records practices at the Arlington County Police Department. This time around, Pope notes that the police department has charged or threaten to charge between $31.16 and $573.25 for his Freedom of Information Act requests. Pope writes that “Arlington County’s system of nickel-and-diming the public and the press serves as a barrier to public access.” [Arlington Connection]
Tea Party Wants to Weigh in on Streetcar — The Arlington County Tea Party says it wants to make a presentation at the upcoming March 27 community forum on the planned Columbia Pike streetcar. At least one other anti-streetcar organization has made a similar request. [Sun Gazette]
Moran: Vaccinations Save Lives — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is encouraging constituents to get vaccinated. “As Chairman of the Congressional Prevention Caucus, I understand the important role prevention plays in reducing contagious diseases,” Moran wrote in his weekly newspaper column. “Due to the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2009, most health insurance companies, including Medicare, are now required to cover recommended vaccinations… with no out of pocket cost. Increased coverage for preventive measures is a significant step towards a health care system that truly improves the health of the American people.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Metro Closing Several Pentagon Escalators — Metro will begin its third major escalator replacement at the Pentagon station on February 4. Three of the six “southside escalators” at the station entrance will be shut down for replacement with new, more reliable units. Customers will still be able to use the three other escalators on the north side. [WMATA]
Proposal to Extend Voting Hours Fails — The proposal by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) to extend voting times in Virginia has failed in committee. The measure would have pushed poll closing time from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. [Sun Gazette]
Claremont Elementary School Earns Health Award — The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) and Sodexo presented Claremont Elementary School with the Healthy Schools Award for being one of five schools having the most participants in the MCM-organized Healthy Kids Fun Run in October. The Claremont P.E. department received $1,000 and each student received a healthy snack pack from Sodexo. [Arlington Public Schools]
Emergency Winter Shelter Open — Because of the extreme cold, the county’s Emergency Winter Shelter, which is usually only open at night, will be open all day today. If you see someone in Arlington needing shelter from the cold, call 703-228-7395.
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Parents of Arlington public school students were told today that “one or more outbreaks of norovirus have been confirmed in schools in Arlington.”
It’s the second publicly reported norovirus outbreak at Arlington Public Schools so far this year. In February a norovirus outbreak was reported at two Arlington schools.
This time around, outbreaks have been reported at Patrick Henry and Randolph elementary schools, according to APS Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations Linda Erdos, who added that the letter below was sent to all parents “because it’s that time of year” for norovirus outbreaks.
Earlier this year, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia described the February outbreak as “nothing unusual” and noted that previous outbreaks did not result in any student requiring hospitalization.
The Arlington Department of Human Services sent the following letter to APS parents today.
Dear APS Families:
This communication is being sent to let you know that one or more outbreaks of NOROVIRUS have been confirmed in schools in Arlington. This virus spreads very quickly and easily and there is no vaccine or medicine for it. Even if your school has not been affected, prevention is essential!
FACTS: Norovirus causes “gastroenteritis”, or infection of the stomach and/or intestines. The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms typically resolve in a few days, although in rare cases the outcome can be more serious.
HOW IT SPREADS: These pathogens are HIGHLY contagious through contact with an infected person’s vomit or stool, or through contact with contaminated food or objects.
PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL IF:
- You know or suspect that your child has a fever or is ill. Please delay sending her/him to school and take the time to feel certain that she/he is well enough to participate in school activities.
- Your child has vomited the night before, or in the morning before going to school.
- Your child has diarrhea, stomach pain or cramping.
- Your child complains of generally not feeling well.
- Your child has any combination of the above symptoms.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
Make sure your child washes their hands frequently and thoroughly before meals or food preparation, after meals, after using the bathroom, and anytime their hands get dirty. Use soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” TWICE).
IF SYMPTOMS DEVELOP: Please keep your child at home and inform the school. For additional guidance, contact your healthcare provider and provide them with a copy of this letter. Your child will need to remain at home until they are free from symptoms for one entire day (24 hours).
WHAT WE ARE DOING: School Health, which is part of the Public Health Department, is working closely with Arlington Public Schools to identify cases and to prevent the spread of the disease
WARNING: Monitor for signs of dehydration if your child is unable to keep fluids down.
MORE INFORMATION: If you want to read more, information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/faq.htm.
QUESTIONS: If you have questions, please contact the nurse in your child’s school clinic or visit the School Health Bureau’s website at www.apsva.us/schoolhealth.
Marian D. Harmon, MSN, RN
School Health Bureau Chief
Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH
Public Health Physician
A man purported to have a healing gaze will be gazing at rooms full of people at a Crystal City hotel this weekend.
Braco, a Croatian man who purportedly has the gift of being able to awaken “positive and beautiful feelings and energies” simply by gazing at people, will be holding nine daily 30-35 minute “gazing sessions” at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway) today (Friday), Saturday and Sunday.
Though some may be skeptical of the power of Braco’s gaze, he has been doing it since the 1990s and thousands of people still line up for his gazing session.
“His visitors report his success through fascinating recoveries and positive changes in their lives, which attracts more and more people from all over the world,” according to his website. “And during those silent sessions people feel deeply touched even without having any direct and personal contact with Braco. They feel touched by an invisible and silent power, which is flowing through them and they try to open and assimilate that power.”
In the video below, two American veterans describe their profound experience with Braco.
Braco’s gazing sessions will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today, and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for one gazing session are $8, and are sold at the door or online.
The final session of each day will include the playing of ‘The Voice,’ described as “an eight-minute recording of Braco speaking, and offers another way for us to receive this gift into our lives.”
For the record, the price of admission is said to only cover Braco’s event expenses.
“Braco does not take any money for his help; he does not accept donations and the sessions are always free at his Center in Zagreb [Croatia],” according to his website. “There is only a small fee at international events, when he visits other countries on tour, to cover the event facilities rental and organizational costs.”
Hat tip to John Fontain. Photos via Braco.net.