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Colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles (photo via NIAID)

Arlington is now setting up appointment-only clinics to vaccinate against monkeypox as cases continue to rise across the region.

The Virginia Department of Health has expanded access to the monkeypox vaccine to “those groups at increased risk for exposure,” per Arlington health department spokesperson Sondra Dietz, allowing the county to run the clinics.

The Arlington County Public Health Division is now running clinics 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday, by appointment only, Dietz told ARLnow. As of this morning, 511 total doses of monkeypox vaccine have been administered by the county health department, another spokesperson said.

The county is asking anyone is who interested and is eligible to receive the vaccine to fill out the vaccine interest form. The form is open to all Virginia residents and not just Arlingtonians; so far, there is no word on how many people have filled out the form.

Just over two weeks ago, ARLnow reported that the county was not yet planning any clinics due to VDH’s “limited” supply of monkeypox vaccine JYNNEOS. It appears that since that time VDH has started to provide more vaccine supply to individual localities. This has allowed Arlington to proceed with vaccinating those in high-risk groups, not solely those “contacts of known cases.”

“As ACPHD receives new vaccine shipments, we will issue new appointment invitations,” writes Dietz.

To be eligible to get the vaccine in Virginia, an individual must be a Virginia resident and 18 years or older. Per the county and VDH, the criteria to receive the vaccine also include:

Within the last 14 days are:

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners; OR
  • Transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men; OR
  • Sex workers (of any sex); OR
  • Staff (of any sex) at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs); OR
  • Persons (of any gender or sexual orientation) who attend sex-on-premises venues (e.g., bathhouses, sex clubs)

NOTE: If you had monkeypox, then you likely have some protection against another infection and are currently not eligible to be vaccinated.

The county also noted that eligibility “may change as the outbreak evolves and based on vaccine supply. ”

This comes as the federal government declared monkeypox a “public health emergency” late last week and cases continue to rise across the region.

As of today, VDH is reporting that there are 32 known and confirmed cases of monkeypox in Arlington. That encompasses just under a quarter of all the cases in Virginia. A majority of people who have monkeypox are between 20 and 39 years old and are white or Black, per VDH data.

Of the 145 people with monkeypox in Virginia, all but one are reported to be male.

Number of monkeypox cases in Arlington and Virginia as of Aug. 8 (image via VDH)

Monkeypox is spread primarily through close or intimate skin-to-skin contact. Anyone can get and spread the illness, though there are higher risk groups.

Symptoms usually start appearing a week or two after exposure and can include blister-like rash, fever, body aches, and exhaustion. The symptoms can last 5 to 21 days.

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Colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles cultivated and purified from cell culture (photo via NIAID)

Though monkeypox cases continue to rise in the region, the county has yet to open vaccine clinics for the disease.

Supply of the monkeypox vaccine JYNNEOS remains “limited,” county spokesperson Ryan Hudson tells ARLnow, and Arlington is coordinating with the Virginia Department of Health to obtain and administer doses.

However, at this moment, there are no planned vaccine appointments or clinics to administer those doses in Arlington to those who are at higher risk and might have been exposed in the last 14 days.

“VDH is still working to expand vaccine access for Virginians who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox and meet CDC criteria,” Hudson wrote ARLnow in an email. “Information about who will be eligible and how they get vaccinated will be provided when it becomes available both on the VDH site and County site.”

This is in contrast to D.C., which made limited, pre-registered monkeypox vaccine appointments available late last month.

While monkeypox cases are rising in Virginia, they remain relatively low compared to the District which has the highest rate of monkeypox cases per capita in the country.

As of this morning (Wednesday), the Virginia Department of Health is reporting that there are 56 cases of monkeypox in the Commonwealth. Three-quarters of those cases, 42, are in the Northern Region, which includes Arlington.

Number of monkeypox cases in Virginia as of July 20, according to VDH (image via VDH)

This is a relatively rapid rise from only a few weeks ago when, in late June, VDH announced there were only 8 cases in the entire Commonwealth. The first case in Northern Virginia was detected back in late May.

County Manager Mark Schwartz spoke briefly about monkeypox at the County Board meeting yesterday afternoon.

“Our Public Health Division is coordinating with the Virginia Department of Health and local health care providers to test for potential cases and to provide guidance on isolation and treatment,” Schwartz said. “We are reaching out also to and monitoring all contacts of potential cases.”

He also noted that the vaccine supply is “pretty limited” and “only being offered to residents who are at high risk of getting monkeypox and have likely been exposed in the last 14 days.”

Monkeypox can spread through direct contact with infectious rashes, scabs, body fluids, or through “respiratory secretions,” according to the CDC. This includes having “prolonged, face-to-face contact” or “intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex” with someone who is infected.

The virus can spread to and make anyone sick, though the highest risk groups at the moment are men who have had sex with men and with multiple partners over the last several weeks, sex workers, transgender women and nonbinary persons who have sex with men, and people who work in places where sex occurs like saunas and bathhouses.

The CDC and VDH define “higher risk” as those who are in these groups and might have been exposed over the last 14 days.

Health agencies have struggled with messaging, in that the virus is impacting the male gay community more at this moment but agencies do not want to further stigmatize an already marginalized group.

Monkeypox causes rashing and potentially other symptoms over a course of several weeks. The West African type that’s making its way around the globe is “rarely fatal,” says the CDC website, though “symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.”

If one is already infected with monkeypox, health officials note, the vaccine is not an effective treatment.

“If someone suspects they have a monkeypox infection, they should contact a healthcare provider,” writes Hudson.

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A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Arlington County has already vaccinated several hundred children ages 6 months to 5 years, in the first week the jab was offered for that age group.

That’s according to a county spokesman, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.

“Arlington County Public Health began COVID-19 vaccinations for children as young as 6 months last Wednesday, June 22,” said Ryan Hudson. “CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) became fully functional later in the week, enabling us to administer a total of 427 first doses so far.”

More on the recently-authorized vaccine offering, from our article last week:

The vaccine shots for young children are currently only being offered by appointment at the county health department’s Sequoia Plaza facility at 2100 Washington Blvd. Vaccine appointments can be booked online, but require registration, the county noted this morning on social media in response to a resident’s question.

The jabs for children 6 months to 5 years old are being offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The county is offering both the Pfizer three-dose series and the Moderna two-dose series, County Manager Mark Schwartz said at last night’s County Board meeting.

Schwartz also noted that those who are not online or who need assistance can call 703-228-7999.

“We’re excited to see this milestone,” Board Chair Katie Cristol, herself a mother of a toddler… “Some of us very excited to see this milestone.”

Covid cases in Arlington, meanwhile, have been fluctuating around the same general level over the past 10 days, as the Independence Day holiday approaches.

As of Wednesday morning, the county was seeing a seven-day rolling average of 126 daily cases, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Covid cases in Arlington as of 6/29/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

The test positivity rate has climbed sharply over the past week, amid significantly lower testing volumes, and currently stands at 17.8%. That’s up from 13.7% about a week ago.

On the plus side, Covid-related hospital admissions in Arlington have fallen slightly during that time period, sliding from 7.2 per 100,000 in population to 6.8 per 100,000 this week, according to CDC data.

Covid test positivity rate in Arlington as of 6/29/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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The COVID-19 vaccine (via Arlington County/YouTube)

Arlington County is starting to vaccinate children ages 6 months to 5 years today, following federal authorization last week.

The new vaccination effort comes as cases have fallen 40% since peaking in late May.

The vaccine shots for young children are currently only being offered by appointment at the county health department’s Sequoia Plaza facility at 2100 Washington Blvd. Vaccine appointments can be booked online, but require registration, the county noted this morning on social media in response to a resident’s question.

The jabs for children 6 months to 5 years old are being offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The county is offering both the Pfizer three-dose series and the Moderna two-dose series, County Manager Mark Schwartz said at last night’s County Board meeting.

Schwartz also noted that those who are not online or who need assistance can call 703-228-7999.

“We’re excited to see this milestone,” Board Chair Katie Cristol, herself a mother of a toddler, said of the new vaccine offerings. “Some of us very excited to see this milestone.”

Vaccines are still being offered for older children and adults at the Arlington Mill and Walter Reed community centers, by appointment or walk in. Schwartz said that 89% of all Arlington residents 5 years of age or older have received at least one dose and about 80% are fully vaccinated.

The county, meanwhile, is still seeing falling Covid case rates.

Covid cases in Arlington as of 6/22/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

As of this morning the seven-day moving average in Arlington was 120 daily cases, down 40% from a seasonal peak of 200 on May 25, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

The county’s test positivity rate has also fallen, but more modestly, and currently stands at a relatively elevated 14.6%. That’s down from 16% at the beginning of June.

Arlington is also seeing improvement in hospitalization rates, officials say.

“We’re seeing a drop in hospitalizations,” Schwartz told the Board last night. The most recent CDC data puts the local hospitalization rate at 7.2 weekly admissions per 100,000 residents.

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County Board member Libby Garvey (left) with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission delegation in Germany (via NVRC/Twitter)

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey is quarantining in Germany after testing positive for COVID-19 while on a trip.

Garvey told ARLnow she’s doing relatively well, and feels mostly like she has a bad cold. She said she plans to keep up with Board work this week as much as she can.

“Hopefully I will have a negative test soon so I can fly home,” she said. “I’m checking on the regulations. I hope to get better quickly and be able to come home by this Thursday or Friday.”

At the County Board meeting Saturday, Chair Katie Cristol said Garvey was absent after being unable to return from her trip with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission “due to a medical condition.”

She was later able to join the meeting via video conference, about two hours in.

Garvey said she visited a family member in Germany and then joined the regional delegation, which was there to learn about the transition away from fossil fuels.

The delegation was in the Stuttgart region for five days and finished in Hamburg, where Garvey said she started experiencing symptoms that felt like allergies. She self-administered a Covid test, which was positive.

Garvey then went with the group to get a test at a German facility, and tested negative, she said. But she continued to have a runny nose, scratchy throat and was tired — although that could be attributed to the long days of walking and seminars.

In order to board the plane home, she was tested again Friday and was positive. The rest of the delegation tested negative and was able to fly home Saturday, she said.

Garvey said she’s lucky enough to have family in the country to quarantine with.

“I feel mostly like I have a bad cold, but it gets better and then worse again several times a day,” she said. “When it’s worse, I feel pretty yuck. When it’s better, I feel not too bad. I also feel a little dizzy at times, but not badly so.”

Garvey said she doesn’t know where she may have picked up the virus. She’s mostly been wearing a mask in Germany, except for meals or when all were seated and spaced apart, she said. She’s been fully vaccinated and had two booster shots.

Her takeaway: it’s really easy to get Covid given fewer people wearing masks and variants getting more contagious.

Garvey recommended residents get vaccinated and boosted so they won’t become seriously ill, “as I am very hopeful that I will not.”

“And, so far, so good,” she added.

Arlington recorded a new seasonal high today in its average daily case rate, with just over 175 new cases reported per day, on average, over the past week. That’s up from about 150 cases per day a week ago.

The test positivity rate in Arlington is currently 12.8%, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Covid hospitalizations in Arlington remain relatively low but continue to rise. The county is seeing 4.9 Covid-related admissions per 100,000 in population, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Virginia Hospital Center is seeing small week-to-week changes in Covid hospitalizations, but is “generally hanging in a comfortable zone,” ER chief Mike Silverman said in his weekly update Friday.

“For the most part, people are not requiring hospitalization for COVID, which is the benefit of vaccines,” he said.

But the ER has remained busy. Silverman said the prior week was the second busiest for total ER volume in the last several years, only surpassed by the last week of 2021 when Omicron was surging.

Photo via Northern Virginia Regional Commission

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The COVID-19 vaccine (via Arlington County/YouTube)

Arlington County is now offering second COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to eligible residents, following updated CDC guidance.

Late last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the administering of second booster shots for those who are 50 years  of age and older, immunocompromised, or who received a single shot and booster of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Two days later, on March 30, county vaccine clinics began allowing those residents to schedule appointments as well as accommodating walk-ins to get their second booster shots. This change was first announced in the county’s COVID-19 update newsletter sent that day, though some might have missed the news.

“I was unaware of this until I dropped by Walter Reed for pickleball this morning and saw the line of folks waiting for their booster,” one Arlington resident told ARLnow yesterday.

The county currently has two clinics open for vaccines. Arlington Mill Community Center and Walter Reed Community Center are both providing booster shots Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins and appointments for residents 5 to 11 years old are only offered 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

The clinics are closed Sunday and Monday.

As of yesterday (Tuesday) evening, appointments were generally available for this week. Additionally, local pharmacies are offering boosters and availability can be found on vaccine.gov. Last month, locals started getting calls and texts from the Virginia Dept. of Health to remind them to get their first booster shots.

Evidence continues to mount that the effects of the vaccine wane over time and booster shots provide additional protection from Covid infection and serious illness, including hospitalization and death.

However, some scientists remain skeptical about the need for a second booster shot at this time — a fourth shot overall, for some — due to a lack of data. The main data point is an Israeli study that found those who received a second booster were 78% less likely to die from Covid than those who only got three shots. But the study was considered by some to be somewhat flawed.

A total of 177,000 Arlingtonians, or 78% of the county’s population, five years or older are considered “fully vaccinated,” according to the latest county data. However, the number of those who have gotten their first booster shot is lower.

Nearly 97,000 residents, or about 41.5% of the total population, have gotten at least their first booster shot, according to Virginia Dept. of Health statistics. That does exceed nationwide stats, however, with only about 30% of the American population having gotten their booster, according to the New York Times.

Kids under the age of five are still not eligible to get a Covid vaccine, much to the worry of some parents. But that could be changing soon with Moderna likely asking the FDA “in the coming weeks” to authorize its vaccine for kids six years and younger.

Covid cases in Arlington, meanwhile, are slowly rising but still well below this winter’s record levels. The county’s seven-day moving average of daily cases is now 70, up from a seasonal low of 24 one month ago, according to VDH data.

Arlington’s Covid “Community Level” is still considered low, with only 1.2 weekly hospital admissions per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC.

Covid cases in Arlington on 4/6/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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Morning Notes

Cherry blossoms in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Changes Coming to ‘Crossing Clarendon’ — “Our central greenspace, The Loop, will be expanding to offer more spaces to walk, shop, relax and explore The Crossing Clarendon. This renovation includes natural planting and landscaping, a modern play structure for the kids, upgrades to the water feature, increased pedestrian zones, and updated seating for our visitors. Construction is slated until late 2022.” [Instagram]

HQ2 Is Attracting Companies, Investors — “The National Landing area, which encompasses Crystal City, Pentagon City and part of Potomac Yard in Arlington, has an $8B development pipeline, $2.5B of which is from Amazon, National Landing BID President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said… Neighborhood leaders, developers and brokers said that HQ2 is drawing new global investors and commercial tenants to seek opportunities in the area.” [Bisnow]

PSA: Close Your Garage Door — “2600 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 6:17 p.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the late report of a breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., the two unknown suspects entered into the victim’s open garage and stole numerous power tools.” [ACPD]

Expect ‘Manageable’ Local Growth — “Northern Virginia localities should expect moderate levels of jobs growth in the coming two decades, with the metropolitan area as a whole adding perhaps 880,000 new ones by 2045. ‘We are a 1-percent-a-year, on average, growing region. This is not too fast, this is not amazingly high. This is actually a very manageable pace,’ said Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis, parsing new data at the board’s March 22 meeting.” [Sun Gazette]

‘Women of Vision’ Winners — “On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will honor four women for their commitment and leadership in the Arlington community with 2022 Arlington County Women of Vision awards… BUSINESS: Karen Bate and Evelyn Powers… NONPROFIT: Natalie Foote… GOVERNMENT: Tara Magee.” [Arlington County]

County Scaling Down Vax Site — “With the demand for COVID vaccines at least momentarily on the decline across Arlington, local leaders have announced plans to reopen one community center for other uses, and are working on opening up more spaces in another. County Manager Mark Schwartz on March 22 announced that, as of April 5, the Walter Reed Community Center will open for pickleball, volleyball, basketball and table games like bridge and mah jongg.” [Sun Gazette]

Governor Signs Car Tax Bill — “Governor Glenn Youngkin signed into law HB1239 sponsored by Delegate Phillip A. Scott, empowering localities to cut car tax rates and prevent huge tax hikes driven by driven by dramatic increases in used vehicle values… If local government leadership does not address the increased value of used vehicles, then taxpayers are facing significant tax increases, as the Commonwealth of Virginia constitutionally mandates 100% fair market value in property tax assessments.” [Governor of Virginia]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 46 and low of 24. Sunrise at 6:58 am and sunset at 7:30 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Covid cases in Arlington on 3/17/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

If you haven’t received a Covid vaccine booster shot yet, expect a call or text message from the state health department.

Arlington residents started getting the reminders from the Virginia Dept. of Health this week, at a time when the local decline in Covid cases is showing signs of bottoming out.

The seven-day moving average of cases has risen modestly over the past week or two, from a low of 24 cases per day on March 8 to about 35 cases per day today.

The county’s test positivity rate has continued to fall, however, reaching 3.2% today, the lowest point since late November. And Arlington is still well within the CDC’s new definition of a “low” level of disease, under which the federal agency recommends making masks optional.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, has reported 54 positive tests among students over the past week, equal to the number of cases over the previous seven-day period. Most of the newer APS cases are in the 22207 zip code of North Arlington, with Nottingham Elementary School, Williamsburg Middle School, Yorktown High School and Jamestown Elementary School reporting the highest number of cases weekly cases.

Covid cases in Arlington Public Schools, by zip code (via APS)

No Covid-related deaths have been reported in Arlington over the past week. There is renewed concern, however, about the long-term implications of even mild cases of Covid, with articles published over the past week or so citing new research about loss of brain matter and cognitive decline among those who contracted the disease.

Elsewhere, officials are closely monitoring a pair of new trends: rising cases and hospitalizations in Europe and particularly the UK, attributed to the BA.2 subvariant, and rising Covid levels observed at some U.S. wastewater treatment sites. Cases and hospitalizations are also quickly rising in Hong Kong, South Korea, and China.

The Arlington County press release about the new booster shot push is below.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is sending text and voice messages to Arlington residents who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot.

The message will read: “Virginia Department of Health records indicate you are eligible for a Booster COVID-19 vaccine. For walk-in clinic times and appointments, visit https://www.arlingtonva.us/COVID-19 or call our COVID-19 hotline at 703-228-7999. Please disregard this message if you have already received your Booster.”

The message will also be sent in Spanish.

COVID-19 vaccine boosters are recommended for everyone age 12 years or older who completed their primary series of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at least five months ago. If you received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago, you are eligible to receive a booster. If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received three doses of Pfizer or Moderna at least three months ago, you, too, are eligible for a booster shot.

Arlington residents who are eligible for COVID-19 booster shots will receive the texts and calls. These voice or text messages are legitimate messages, not a hoax or scam. VDH will use contact information provided during your initial appointment sign up.

Not everyone will be contacted at first, and individuals do not need to wait for this notification to get a vaccine booster. To find a vaccine location near you, visit vaccines.govwalk-in to one of the County’s clinics, or call our COVID-19 hotline at 703-228-7999.

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Joey Collins is a Broadway actor by training and an Arlington vaccine helper by heart.

After assisting the Arlington Public Health Division with distributing Covid vaccines for most of 2021, accomplished stage actor Collins is hitting the road this year as part of the Broadway touring company of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

He’s playing the villain Bob Ewell in the iconic story. It’s a life-altering role, one that he’s ready for after spending close to a year helping Arlingtonians get vaccinated.

One of the things that I’m grateful that happened for me was working in the [vaccine] clinics,” Collins tells ARLnow. “I believe it’s the Dalai Lama that said that genuine compassion is unbiased.”

The longtime New Yorker moved to Arlington with his family, which includes a partner and two kids, in 2019 with his partner getting a job at a nonprofit here. He immediately began to look for his community, through local theaters, and acting groups. Then, the world shut down.

Collins was in a new place with few friends, not much of a network, and — like many — had little work. So, he turned to volunteering.

He first began by helping with voter protection but with vaccines becoming available in December 2020, Collins reached out to Arlington Public Health to see if the department needed help.

Public Health accepted and, with his gregarious nature, Collins was first asked to greet people as they came to the Arlington County Department of Human Services at Sequoia Plaza on Washington Blvd. Those lines were often long with many residents over the age of 75.

“You’re the first voice… and first eyes that people saw when they came,” Collins says. “I really enjoyed that.”

His acting training kicked in too, helping him to figure out how to best greet those coming for their vaccines.

“You’re always reading the other person. Sometimes that person is nervous, sometimes they are excited or grumpy,” Collins says. “I just tried to be a positive person in their life for those few minutes that I had contact with them.”

Particularly those early days, when it was older residents who were getting vaccinated, the experience was incredibly rewarding for Collins. He even gets a bit emotional talking about it, remembering that for some, he may have been the first person that they had talked to face-to-face in months.

“Sometimes they just wanted to talk and it was great,” he says. “We were hopefully giving them the opportunity to not be so isolated. My heart is full and my eyes are teary… just thinking about it.”

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The COVID-19 vaccine (via Arlington County/YouTube)

Yesterday was the deadline for all Arlington County government employees to get vaccinated, obtain an exemption, or get fired. So far, no one has been fired.

“We’re happy to report that as of today, all Arlington County Government employees are in compliance with the vaccine policy,” county spokesman Ryan Hudson told ARLnow on Monday. “Approximately 99% of permanent County employees are vaccinated, with 125 individuals having received accommodations.”

As of Feb. 15, just six out of the county workforce of roughly 3,500-4,000 full-time employees had not yet been vaccinated nor obtained a valid exemption under federal guidelines. As of this morning, everyone was in compliance, Hudson said.

“No one was terminated,” he confirmed. “All County employees are in compliance with the policy.”

The news comes as Covid cases continue to decline in Arlington and as Arlington Public Schools held its first day of mask-optional, in-person school since the start of the pandemic.

As of this morning the seven-day moving average of new Covid cases in Arlington fell to 29 per day, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health, down from the peak of 646 daily cases on Jan. 12.

Daily hospitalizations, meanwhile, are averaging 0.3 per 100,000 residents, well below the CDC’s new 10 hospitalization per day per 100,000 residents threshold for Covid levels in a community being considered low.

Six Covid-related deaths have been reported by VDH over the past week.

The CDC’s new ‘community level’ indicators (via CDC)
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Morning Notes

Raindrops on a tree branch in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Beyer’s Statement on Ukraine — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) last night: “Praying for the Ukrainian people tonight. America stands with Ukraine.” [Twitter]

HQ2 Phase 1 to Feature 14 Retailers — “JBG Smith also revealed Tuesday that it has identified and executed leases with 14 retailers set to open by the end of 2023 at Metropolitan Park, though it didn’t identify those brands. That’s a jump from what the real estate company had announced in November during a tour of the HQ2 site, at that time noting plans for between seven to 12 retailers on the ground floor. Two of those retailers have been announced: District Dogs and Rāko Coffee Roasters.” [Washington Business Journal]

More Details on HS at HQ2 Phase 2 — “During a recent community meeting about the project, county staff said Amazon will provide 26,500 square feet of space for the school in one of its HQ2 office buildings at the PenPlace site. The plan calls for Amazon to construct the school’s space and to provide a rent-free lease to the county for a minimum of 30 years… ‘We’re being told it will be the fall of 2026,’ Thompson said when asked when Arlington Community High School would officially make the move to HQ2.” [WJLA]

Local James Beard Nominees — Two chefs with Arlington restaurants have been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award. Peter Chang, of the eponymous restaurant in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, has been nominated for a national award for Outstanding Chef. Ruthie’s All-Day proprietor Matt Hill, meanwhile, has been nominated in the category of Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. [Eater, Washington Business Journal]

December Death Investigation Update — “The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the manner of both deaths as accidental with cause being narcotics-related. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help is available.” [Twitter, ACPD]

County Employee Vax Deadline Approaching — “County Manager Mark Schwartz said the number of employees who neither have gotten vaccinated, nor won an exemption, is down to a miniscule number (six, he said on Feb. 15). Ninety-six percent of permanent government employees have met the vaccination mandate, with 135 more receiving accommodations required under federal law.” [Sun Gazette]

Mask Guidance from APS Superintendent — “As communicated last week, families will be able to opt their students out of wearing a mask in school beginning next Tuesday, March 1, in accordance with the recently passed Virginia law, Senate Bill 739. As this new law takes effect, I ask everyone to practice patience and understanding for others with respect to mask choice. We are one community, unified by our shared commitment to student success, health and well-being.” [Arlington Public Schools]

It’s Thursday — Cloudy with a chance of sleet today. A chance of rain and snow in the morning, then rain likely in the afternoon. Little or no accumulation of frozen precipitation. A slight chance of sleet in the evening, plus rain and patchy fog. High of 44 and low of 32. Sunrise at 6:49 am and sunset at 5:57 pm. [Weather.gov]

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