(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) Arlington County Board members are asking why vaccinations are not going faster, amid a pace that would take more than two years to dose the county’s adult population.
This past weekend the county got the go-ahead from the state to start vaccinating those in the Phase 1b priority group. But questions remain about how exactly the county will push forward and why less than 2% of the county’s adult population has received a vaccine dose so far, one month after the first vaccine was authorized for use.
Arlington County public health director Reuben Varghese told the County Board yesterday afternoon that, while the county is looking to vaccinate 1,200 people a week, it has yet to hit that number.
The reason, he said, is that the county is still establishing infrastructure to do it. It’s a tough task since considerable space is needed due to social distancing, he said, but the health department is trying to rectify that.
Arlington Public Schools has agreed to allow use of an auditorium at the Syphax Education Center on Washington Blvd. There, Varghese says, they’ll be able to have up to 19 vaccinators and vaccinate residents every two to five minutes.
More large spaces are being discussed, including working with more pharmacies and setting up vaccination stations in community centers. There’s also thought of opening a weekend clinic, particularly to vaccinate childcare workers and teachers.
“Obviously, I’d love the Pentagon parking lot, but that’s probably not going to happen,” says Varghese.
It’s a balancing act or an “art,” he said, between public demand, getting doses from the state, and having the ability to actually vaccinate.
County Board member Takis Karantonis said he heard from a number of eligible residents that they have registered, but are getting mid to late February vaccination dates.
Varghese responded that this made sense. In order to get more doses from the state, the county needs to show the state their the ability to vaccinate matches the number of doses being provided.
“The state is trying to make sure we are not hoarding vaccine,” he said.
Going forward, Varghese says he’s trying to make vaccinating more efficient and lower the administrative burden. This includes perhaps not delineating between and consolidating certain subsections and phases. Virginia’s Phase 1c, for instance includes older residents, those with certain health conditions, and 12 separate categories of essential workers, including lawyers and bankers.
The next groups set to be vaccinated are food and agriculture workers, grocery store employees, mail carriers, public transit workers, and county officials. But the federal government is advocating to start vaccinating individuals over 65 and those with chronic medical conditions now. Those folks are technically in Phase 1c.
Varghese agreed with the federal recommendations.
“When you start looking at who falls into all of these categories in Phase 1c, there’s a lot of individual overlap with the general public,” he said. “My personal observation is that we just ask ‘who’s interested?’ and move forward with the general public. The advantage of that is you don’t have to send out lists or figure out organizations. You can just… ask for all-comers.”
At a time when health department staff is stretched thin and overworked, it would be helpful to simplify the process. Even with changes, however, widespread vaccine distribution may still be months away.
As of Wednesday morning, 3,653 vaccine doses had been administered in Arlington, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. With an average vaccination rate of just over 225 doses per day over the past week, it would take the 843 days to administer a dose to the remainder of Arlington’s adult population.
Airbnb says it is cancelling bookings for next week in the D.C. area, in response to threats of violence during the Inauguration week.
Following the pro-Trump storming of the U.S. Capitol last week, there have been reports that armed groups are planning protests around the Inauguration, raising the specter of more potential violence.
Airbnb says the cancellations will help ensure that its local hosts are not hosting those planning to disrupt next Wednesday’s ceremony.
“Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the Inauguration week,” the company said this morning.” Additionally, we will prevent any new reservations in the Washington, D.C. area from being booked during that time by blocking such reservations.”
“Guests whose reservations are canceled will be refunded in full,” Airbnb wrote. “We also will reimburse hosts, at Airbnb’s expense, the money they would have earned from these cancelled reservations. HotelTonight reservations also will be canceled.”
More from the company:
Airbnb’s work continues to be informed by inputs from our local host community as well as Washington, D.C. officials, Metro Police and Members of Congress throughout this week. In particular, Mayor Bowser, Governor Hogan and Governor Northam have been clear that visitors should not travel to the D.C. Metro area for the Inauguration. Additionally, we are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration.
Federal investigators have formed “a sedition and conspiracy task force” to further investigate last week’s Capitol chaos.
Arlington officials, meanwhile, have been discussing additional security measures connected to the Inauguration. Last night the County Board was in closed session for more than an hour “for the purpose of discussing plans to protect public safety as it relates to potential terrorist activity.”
Matt Blitz contributed to this report
Arlington Enters N. Va. Police Pact –“The Northern Virginia Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Committee is pleased to announce the creation of the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). The purpose of this team is to investigate critical incidents involving law enforcement officers within the cooperating jurisdictions.” [ACPD, DCist]
Dems Staying in Arlington for Inauguration — “Since most won’t be traveling into the District of Columbia due to public-health restrictions, members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee are being asked to take part in special events in Arlington to mark the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.” [InsideNova]
Amazon to Open HQ2 to Teachers — “Amazon.com Inc. is taking a new step toward building up its future workforce, offering D.C.-area teachers the opportunity this summer to tour its second headquarters and shadow HQ2 staff while completing a graduate-level computer science course with George Mason University.” [Washington Business Journal]
Amazon Wants to Vaccinate Va. Workers — “Amazon.com Inc. has offered to aid Virginia in inoculating the masses by vaccinating its tens of thousands of employees deemed essential during the health crisis… The company said it has the infrastructure to provide vaccinations to its more than 25,000 full and part-time laborers at fulfillment centers, warehouses and grocery stores across the state.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Candidate for 45th House District — “Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker will not seek reelection and is running for the 45th District [state House of Delegates] seat currently held by Del. Mark Levine as he runs for Virginia Lieutenant Governor.” [ALXnow]
Nearby: No Go for MoCo Schools — “Montgomery County students’ return to schools will be pushed back again as local COVID-19 cases continue to surge. During a meeting on Tuesday, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted 7-1 to delay its reopening plan for the third time, pushing back the Feb. 1 start date until at least March 15 — more than a year after buildings closed.” [Bethesda Magazine]
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlington County says it is “taking all necessary steps to ensure public safety” ahead of the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration.
In a statement issued this afternoon, County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti thanked the county police officers and firefighters dispatched into D.C. as mutual aid during last week’s pro-Trump storming of the U.S. Capitol, and assured residents that the county will “protect our community and help keep the peace in the coming days.”
De Ferranti said he has “full confidence” that Acting Police Chief Charles “Andy” Penn and County Manager Mark Schwartz are “taking the steps necessary to keep Arlingtonians safe” in the lead-up to president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Full statement is below.
My colleagues and I share the concerns that so many Arlingtonians have voiced in the wake of the storming of the Capitol last Wednesday. We are proud of the Arlington County police officers and firefighters who helped defend the Capitol and tended to the wounded. While we are grateful that no Arlington first responders or residents were injured, we mourn the loss of life, including the death of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was mortally injured while defending the Capitol. Our officers who defended the Capitol and democracy deserve our profound gratitude. Everyone who participated in this violent assault on our Capitol must be held accountable.
Arlington will take all necessary legal steps to protect our community and help keep the peace in the coming days. I have full confidence that the County Manager and the Acting Police Chief are taking the steps necessary to keep Arlingtonians safe and appropriately assist with the safe transfer of power in a way that aligns with our community’s ideals and commitments.
The FBI is warning of a group potentially planning an armed uprising in the coming days by supporters of President Trump.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam joined Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in urging people to “not to come into Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration and to instead participate virtually.”
Last week, Arlington officers in riot gear defended the Capitol, following a request from D.C. police for mutual aid assistance. Despite more than 50 police officers during the clashes that day, and the death of a U.S. Capitol Police officer, no Arlington officers were seriously injured.
Photo via Tyler Merbler/Flickr
Reminder: Inauguration Closures Today — Many Arlington County facilities are closed today, Inauguration Day, and parking meters are not being enforced. Traffic is light around Arlington but drivers should expect closures and delays approaching the District. [ARLnow]
Arlington EOC Open — Arlington’s Emergency Operations Center is open and fully functional today for the inauguration. [Twitter]
Two Local Neighborhoods Among D.C.’s Hottest — Arlington Heights, between Columbia Pike and Route 50, and Yorktown in north Arlington, are No. 2 and 3 respectively on real estate firm Redfin’s list of the hottest Washington, D.C. area neighborhoods for 2017. [Redfin]
Schlow May Open Arlington Restaurant — Restaurateur Michael Schlow, the man behind Tico and The Riggsby in D.C., is “close to a deal” to open a new restaurant in Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]
School Bus Accident — There was a minor collision between two school buses at Randolph Elementary yesterday afternoon. According to initial reports more than a dozen students were evaluated by medics, but ultimately no injuries reported. [Twitter]
Schmuhl Sentenced for Home Invasion — Former lawyer Alecia Schmuhl was sentenced to 45 years in prison for her role in the home invasion attack on her former boss and his wife. Leo Fisher, a shareholder in Arlington law firm Bean, Kinney & Korman, was held captive by Schmuhl’s husband, who shot, stabbed and tased the couple during a three hour torture session. [NBC Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
Getting around in Arlington on Inauguration Day tomorrow shouldn’t be much of a challenge, but there will be important changes of note for those heading into the District.
VDOT has announced the following traffic changes for Friday:
- I-395 HOV northbound lanes will close at 3 a.m. on January 20. HOV lanes on I-395 will re-open southbound upon the conclusion of the Inaugural parade.
- HOV restrictions will be lifted on I-66 (as well as on I-395 when the lanes reopen Friday evening).
- Memorial Bridge will be open to pedestrian traffic and authorized vehicle traffic only.
The Key Bridge and Chain Bridge will be open to all traffic, as will the I-395 main lanes and I-66.
Metrorail, meanwhile will open at 4 a.m. and will run at near-rush hour service levels through 9 p.m. The Pentagon Metro station and several stations in the District, however, will be closed for security reasons.
ACPD says there are no known credible threats but is stepping up security around the county, including in Metro stations.
“Arlington County Police have increased patrols for Friday,” the department said. “There are no credible threats in the area but as with all large scale events, the public is encouraged to remain vigilant.”
“Traffic in Arlington County will be impacted on Friday and motorists should be prepared for congestion, delays and detours,” ACPD added. “Use of public transportation is encouraged. If you must drive, be sure to have a full tank of gas before you leave, or you may become stranded while waiting in traffic.”
Though many bridges are open, once drivers get into the District they will have to contend with major detours and closures, including the closure of numerous streets around the White House, the Capitol and the inaugural parade route.
Additional inauguration resources are available on the Arlington County website.
Inauguration Day is almost here, and a new administration will soon be establishing itself in Washington’s halls of power.
How will Arlingtonians be marking the occasion? Let’s find out.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Art Thief Arrested in Arlington — Convicted art thief Marcus Sanford Paton was arrested outside the new Pentagon City Starbucks on Fern Street Sunday. He’s accused of driving a stolen car from Miami to D.C. to try to seek a presidential pardon. [Daily Mail]
Wreath-Laying Ceremony at ANC — President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery around 3:30 p.m. this afternoon, kicking off the inaugural weekend. Afterwards, they will make an appearance at a “Make America Great Again” concert at the Lincoln Memorial. As a result of the inaugural activities, Memorial Bridge was closed at 4 a.m. this morning and will not reopen to vehicular traffic until after the inauguration. [Presidential Inaugural Committee, Newsweek]
Another Win for Arlington Jeopardy Player — Arlington resident John Avila has now emerged as the Jeopardy champion three nights in a row. He will try to make it four in a row tonight. [Sun Chronicle]
Walking Causing Escalator Problems? — The frequent escalator breakdowns in the Metrorail system are well known, but what causes it? It might be uneven wear caused by people standing on the right and walking up the escalators on the left, experts say. [Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle]
Local Democrats are planning a series of events, dubbed the “Weekend of Action,” to “send a bold message to the new administration on its first day in office.”
The prelude to the events will kick off Friday night with a poster making party in the basement of the Clarendon Presbyterian Church (1305 N. Jackson Street).
On Saturday, local Democrats will meet on the Arlington side of the Memorial Bridge — accessible via the Arlington Cemetery Metro station; Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. — and around 8 a.m. will walk into the District to join the Women’s March on Washington.
“Walk together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our Commonwealth and our country,” says the Arlington Democrats website. “Marchers may choose to carry signs, shout through megaphones, walk in silence as a member of The Bricksters, or otherwise express their views in a peaceful manner.”
A number of local lawmakers, including Rep. Don Beyer and County Board members Libby Garvey, Katie Cristol and Jay Fisette, are expected to be among the marchers.
Wrapping up the weekend, on Sunday, is the Commonsense Commonwealth Rally and Brunch, featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello as keynote speakers. That event is scheduled from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd) in Clarendon.
Arlington Sending Officers to Inauguration — Updated at 10:55 a.m. — The Arlington County Police Department is assigning “more than a hundred” officers to help with inauguration security on Friday. Like other local departments, ACPD will sending some of its officers to D.C. to assist the Metropolitan Police Department. Others will be assigned to Metro stations or areas where large crowds are expected. [WJLA]
Local Inauguration Day Event — A number of local nonprofits, from the Arlington Food Assistance Center to activist groups like Moms Demand Action, will be participating in an “alternative” Inauguration Day event at the Barcroft Community House. The event encourages attendees to “explore how you can get involved in their important causes” and “post your thoughts about how we, as citizens of Arlington, can work to further our common good as we face new tests to our society and democracy after Inauguration Day.” [ARLnow, Facebook]
Senators Hope New Administration Will Fund Bridge Repairs — Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have written a letter to two of president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, asking them to “do all in your power to see that the rehabilitation of Memorial Bridge is fully funded.” The senators note that the weight limit imposed on the bridge has forced some changes to inauguration plans. [Scribd]
Arlington Jeopardy Contestant Keeps Winning — Arlington resident John Avila, 30, again bested his fellow contestants on last night’s episode of Jeopardy, his second appearance on the show. Avila, an attorney, will face a high school physics teacher from Indiana and a writer from Brooklyn on tonight’s episode. [Sun Chronicle]
Small Dog Owners Want Separate Area of Dog Park — A group of owners of small dogs have proposed a separate small dog zone at the Fort Ethan Allen Park community canine area. There are currently two other dog parks in Arlington with separate small dog areas. [InsideNova]
Remembering Preston King — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark recounts the life and times of Preston King, for whom the Westover Post Office is named. King was killed while bailing out of his plane in the midst of a reconnaissance mission during World War II. [Falls Church News-Press]
Beyer Won’t Participate in Inauguration — Don’t expect to see Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) at the inauguration of Donald Trump nor at any celebratory inaugural events. Beyer says he “will not be part of normalizing or legitimizing” president-elect Trump, whose “values and… actions are the antithesis of what I hold dear.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Cubs at the Pentagon City Ritz — The World Series-winning Chicago Cubs made the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton their home base before meeting President Obama at the White House on Monday. The hotel is a popular destination for visiting sports teams. [Twitter]
Crash on I-395 — All but one lane of traffic was blocked on northbound I-395 yesterday following an afternoon crash near Shirlington. A police officer helped to calm down a dog who was in one of the cars involved in the crash. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Group Will March in Inauguration — The Arlington-based Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) will march in Friday’s inaugural parade in D.C. The organization supports the families of fallen military service members. [WJLA]
Hot Start for Wakefield Girls — The Wakefield girls basketball team is off to an impressive 12-2 start this season. The team plays Falls Church tonight. [Washington Post]
Business Book Club at Library — Arlington Public Library has launched a Business Book Club “for adults interested in reading about business strategy, leadership and management.” The first meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28 at Central Library. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf