That’s according to the latest data from the Virginia Dept. of Health, which now lists 604 cases, 83 hospitalizations, 14 deaths and 7,337 people tested statewide. The cases in Arlington as of Friday represent a nearly four-fold increase since a week ago.
County leaders, meanwhile, continue to urge additional caution — and action — to fight the spread of the virus. But the effort is being hampered somewhat by people continuing to congregate in groups and a lack of available tests.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, in her email newsletter to constituents this morning, listed the following “ongoing challenges” in Arlington.
- Groups congregating in our parks continue to be an issue and our Police are enforcing safe distancing and activities. While our park equipment should not be used, people are encouraged to continue to take walks on our trails and enjoy the outside (maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance).
- COVID-19 testing also continues to be an issue in Arlington as it is nationally. Virginia Hospital Center has received more kits and gotten more efficient about doing the sampling at their drive-through facility on Quincy Street. The fact remains, however, that a limited number of kits continue to be an issue and it will be that way for some time.
Arlington County firefighters, meanwhile, were ordered Thursday night to start wearing surgical masks “for the entirety of their scheduled work day,” according to a memo obtained by ARLnow.
ACFD spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli said the mask-wearing order applies when firefighters are within six feet of anyone else. It follows Tuesday’s announcement that a firefighter had tested positive for COVID-19. The firefighter’s colleagues were allowed to stay on the job, following guidance from Arlington’s health department, despite concerns from the fire union.
No other firefighters have tested positive or exhibited symptoms since, Tirelli said.
Some people hoping to get out of the house and get some exercise are defying government efforts to maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools closed all athletic fields and courts, as well as playgrounds and other outdoor recreational facilities where people congregate.
On Tuesday, people could be seen climbing through a gap in the fence at the popular Washington-Liberty track, in pursuit of maintaining their exercise routines. The two missing bars on the fence appear to have been “kicked in,” a tipster said.
Hey @ArlingtonVA are you wondering how people are accessing the signed ❌CLOSED❌ fields at W&L? I think we need @ArlingtonVaPD on property as someone vandalized/broke the fence. @nbcwashington @ARLnowDOTcom @WTOP @fox5dc @wusa9 @ArlingtonPublic #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/W9IeVQ86ax
— James Dingell (@JamesDingell) March 24, 2020
Experts say that people deliberately ignoring government-imposed closures and social distancing measures is a “formula for disaster” that can accelerate the spread of the virus. Such people may think they’re doing something innocuous, or that they’re at low risk of health consequences should they contract COVID-19, but the collective defiance can collectively lead to bad outcomes.
Arlington police, meanwhile, say they’re working with county park rangers to educate the public about the closures.
“Arlington County Police Department is supporting Department Parks and Recreation Park Rangers and Rovers in educating the public regarding the closures of County and APS parks, playgrounds, fields, restrooms, tracks, dog parks and athletic courts,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The goal is to gain voluntary compliance with the closures through education and signs will be posted at all affected locations. Rovers/Officers responding to these areas are informing the public of the closures and requesting individuals to move along and practice social distancing.”
“If the public sees large groups gathering in these locations, they can contact the Department of Parks and Recreation Roving Monitor at 571-238-0265 from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays,” Savage continued. “Afterhours concerns can be reported to the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”
Savage said police are also working to ensure compliance with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent order for non-essential businesses to close.
“In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 53, officers are conducting proactive checks of all businesses to ensure compliance with those that are required to be closed and those permitted to be open while complying with social distancing requirements,” she said. “The County has disseminated information to the business community regarding the Order utilizing listservs, phone calls and officers personally handing out copies during proactive checks. The goal continues to be 100% voluntary compliance and no criminal enforcement action has been taken related to Executive Order 53.”
Dr. Gregg Robertson, the beloved principal of Washington-Liberty High School, is retiring at the end of the school year.
With students out until at least the end of spring break as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Robertson made the announcement yesterday via email. He said he is retiring to go back to teaching, this time at the college level.
Robertson said he’s hopeful the school year will resume and he’ll be able to close out his 17-year tenure as W-L’s principal with a proper farewell.
“I look very forward to when we are all back in school and the current situation is behind us,” he said. “I miss seeing you all in the hallways and can’t wait until we are together again.”
The full letter is below.
I am sending you this message via Naviance because we are currently not together face-to-face. I originally intended to share this information with you in person, but the current situation does not allow me to do so. I will be retiring at the end of this school year. It has been my pleasure to serve as your principal at W-L. I am completing my 17th year at W-L and have loved every single day! I have always claimed to be the luckiest person in the world to have been given the opportunity to get to know all of the current Generals at W-L and all the ones who have come before you. As you know, your high school continues to be one of the best high schools in the country. This is true due to all the wonderful and dedicated teachers, all the hard-working and caring students, and your supportive parents. I have met and gotten to know so many incredible students over the years — many with whom I still remain in contact.
I know each of you are going to do great things in life because you are receiving one of the best educations that can be had. I look forward to hearing about all the great things you accomplish over the years to come. I plan to continue my career in education by teaching at the college level. After all these years as a principal — I still miss being in the classroom. So who knows, maybe I will see some of you in class some day! In the meantime, stay safe and well. I look very forward to when we are all back in school and the current situation is behind us. I miss seeing you all in the hallways and can’t wait until we are together again.
With care and respect for all of you,
Big Costco Crowds Over the Weekend — The Pentagon City Costco drew big crowds and long queues of cars over the weekend, as people stocked up on supplies amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. There were some reports of the store running low on items like toilet paper. [Twitter, Twitter]
Vets Visit Iwo Jima Memorial — “This February marks 75 years since the American flag was raised atop Mt. Suribachi, depicted in the famous photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. That photo became the model for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. This milestone is the reason a group of more than 50 Battle of Iwo Jima veterans descended on the memorial this week.” [WJLA]
Strong Finishes for W-L Teams — Among other action this weekend, the Washington-Liberty boys placed second in the 6D North Region boys basketball tournament — and will now advance to states — while the W-L girls track team placed third at the state track tournament. [InsideNova, Twitter]
Arlington Deploys Mobile Library Truck — “Arlington Public Library announces the arrival of The Truck, a traveling library designed to hold hundreds of books, games, crafts and DVDs for all ages and interests. The Truck’s first outing will be to Plaza Library on Wednesday, March 4 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.” [Arlington Public Library]
Voice of America Profiles Local Cornhole League — “A number of bars in Arlington, Virginia, offer their customers more than a selection of craft beers and cocktails, they offer them a chance to try their hand at cornhole, a game in which players take turns throwing small bags of corn kernels at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. It’s a unique bit of Americana that’s bringing people together.” [VOA News]
Owners of Bar Bao and The Lot Squabble — “The owners of Social Restaurant Group are accusing one another of fraud, financial mismanagement, and breach of contract in half a dozen lawsuits spanning the past year. The litigation involves at least five restaurants.” [Washingtonian]
Amazon Leases Former PBS Building — “Amazon.com Inc. is gobbling up more office space in Crystal City, signing a lease for another full building owned by frequent partner and current landlord JBG Smith Properties. The tech giant is now set to occupy another 272,000 square feet at 2100 Crystal Drive… The building is currently home to the Public Broadcasting Services’ headquarters, though the nonprofit announced plans last year to move to a different building within Crystal City.” [Washington Business Journal]
W-L vs. Wakefield in the Semis Tonight — “Having been blown out by the Yorktown Patriots a few days earlier, the Washington-Liberty Generals turned the tables on their Arlington rival, winning 66-61 Feb. 25 in a quarterfinal game of the 6D North Region boys high-school basketball tournament… Washington-Liberty will now face another big Arlington rival – the Wakefield Warriors (17-9) – in the Feb. 27 region semifinals at Wakefield at 7 p.m.” [InsideNova]
JBG Selling Properties to Fund Development — “JBG Smith Properties sold a 50% stake in its 552,000-square-foot Central Place office tower in December for $220 million… The sale to PGIM Inc. of the Rosslyn asset netted JBG Smith $53.4 million and comes as the company seeks to both shed properties outside of its core business and fuel a development pipeline.” [Washington Business Journal]
Another Possible N. Va. Coronavirus Case — “Health officials in Virginia said Tuesday they are monitoring two residents for possible coronavirus, including one in Northern Virginia.” [Washington Post]
DMV Urging Residents to Get REAL ID Now — “More than 850,000 Virginians in 2019 took the steps necessary to get a ‘REAL ID’-compliant driver’s license or identity card, but perhaps twice that many are still in need of one, state officials say. ‘We estimate approximately 1.5 million more Virginians will want to get a REAL ID between now and October,’ said Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Richard Holcomb.” [InsideNova]
Dorsey Steps Down from Transportation Board — “The Arlington County Board forced member Christian Dorsey to step down from a second transit board Saturday over a campaign donation from Metro’s largest union, and he apologized for misleading statements he made last month suggesting that he had already returned the money. Dorsey (D), who was reelected to the board in November, said he has sent back the $10,000 donation to the Amalgamated Transit Union and agreed to resign from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.” [Washington Post]
Thousands Attend Buttigieg Rally — Nearly 10,000 people attended Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign rally at Washington-Liberty High School yesterday afternoon. [Twitter, Twitter, The Pete Channel]
Klobuchar Had High Profile Local Landlord — “Chuck Todd — who helped moderate Wednesday night’s Democratic debate — is likely more familiar with one candidate than any other. He was Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s landlord, sources exclusively told Page Six. Klobuchar and her husband, lawyer John Bessler, rented a 3-bedroom home owned by Todd in Arlington, Virginia, sources said.” [Page Six]
Firm Floats Less Parking for HQ2-Adjacent Park — “The green space adjacent to the first pair of Amazon.com Inc. HQ2 towers could be so much grander if it weren’t for some redundant on-street parking. That is what New York-based James Corner Field Operations, the urban design and landscape architecture firm Amazon has enlisted to mold Metropolitan Park’s open space, said Thursday night during the first step of the park master planning process… the site has roughly 50 on-street parking spaces, but there is a significant number, about 350, of underused below-ground spaces.” [Washington Business Journal]
Iwo Jima Restoration Is Complete — “This Sunday, Feb. 23, marks 75 years since brave Marines raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, which depicts the historic moment, has been completely rehabilitated… The rehabilitation of the sculpture and surrounding parkland, the specially designed onsite exhibits and the new videos were made possible through a generous $5.37 million donation.” [Press Release]
Board Approves Child Care Funding, Park Contract — “The Arlington County Board today approved a contract with Crown Construction Service, Inc. to upgrade heavily-used Edison Park with new playgrounds and other amenities… [and] accepted a $200,000 donation to fund high-quality child care for low-income Arlington families, the first such donation to the Arlington Community Foundation’s (ACF) Shared Prosperity initiative from a private corporation.” [Arlington County, Arlington County]
‘Ball Cap Bandit’ Sentenced — “An Arlington man was sentenced today to five years in prison for robbing two Falls Church pawn shops of nearly $800,000 in jewelry and watches. According to court documents, in July 2014, Budder Khan, 30, entered Route 50 Gold and Jewelry Exchange, forced the store’s employees to the ground using what appeared to be a real firearm, smashed the business’s glass display cases, and took jewelry and watches worth over $650,000.” [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by Phil
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieig is coming to Arlington this weekend, and might be bringing some traffic headaches along with him.
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana will be holding a large, town hall-style event at the Washington-Liberty High School football stadium on Sunday from around 2:45-5 p.m.
Arlington County Police are warning of “large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event.” Police will be on hand to monitor traffic and potentially implement some road closures, the department said.
Parking is limited in the area, but a rideshare drop-off and pick-up done has been established across the street from the high school, at Quincy Park. The school is also within walking distance of the Ballston and Virginia Square Metro stations.
More from ACPD:
A public Town Hall event is being held at Washington-Liberty High School stadium, located at 1301 N. Stafford Street, on the afternoon of Sunday, February 23 from approximately 2:45 PM until 5:00 PM.
The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event. The Arlington County Police Department will monitor traffic conditions and may implement road closures in the interest of public safety. Those traveling in the area should follow the direction of officers.
Getting to the Event
Parking in the area is extremely limited. Participants are encouraged to arrive using multi-modal and public transportation options to reduce vehicular congestion. The Ballston and Virginia Square metro stations, located on the orange and silver lines, are a short walk to the event location.
Motorists are advised that no event parking will be permitted at the North Quincy Street Development located at 1425 and 1435 N. Quincy Street.
Rideshare Pick-Up and Drop-Off Location
A designated rideshare pick-up and drop-off zone has been established at the Quincy Park parking lot located at 1021 N. Quincy Street. Rideshare vehicles will enter the lot in the 1000 block of N. Quincy Street and exit in the 3900 block of Washington Boulevard. Drivers are reminded that stopping or standing in travel lanes to discharge or pick-up passengers is strictly prohibited.
(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Pete Buttigieg, Democratic candidate for president and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is making another appearance in Arlington — and this time it won’t be in a resident’s backyard.
Buttigieg will be holding an upcoming Northern Virginia town hall meeting in Arlington, at the Washington-Liberty High School stadium, the campaign confirmed Thursday evening.
The event is being held this coming Sunday, Feb 23, from 3:45-5:15 p.m. It’s taking place ahead of the March 3 Super Tuesday primary in Virginia, and after last week’s Elizabeth Warren campaign event at Arlington’s Wakefield High School.
Buttigieg’s last known campaign appearance in Arlington was a private fundraiser at a Waverly Hills home this past June.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin, who endorsed the mayor’s presidential candidacy early in the race, sent the following email to supporters about the event:
On Sunday, February 23rd from 3:45 to 5:15 Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be holding a town hall in Arlington, at a location to be announced.
Throughout my political career I have had the opportunity to work with only a handful of candidates who simultaneously embody pragmatic progressive reform, and possess both the strong commitment to our nation formed by service, as well as the ability to bring Americans from all walks of life together with the common purpose of ensuring that future generations will be better off than their parents.
Mayor Buttigieg embodies these qualities, and has outlined a plan to address gun violence, advance and support communities of color, and build a [resilient] path forward for America.
If you’re preparing to go for a run at the popular Washington-Liberty High School track be advised: you should probably use the bathroom before you go.
There is one public bathroom at the track, a portable facility at the south end of the track, but inside the plastic cage is a scene out of a nightmare.
An ARLnow reporter was sentenced to explore the lavatory, following a reader tip, and found the toilet overflowing, the plastic floor smeared with a mix of human feces and unidentifiable materials, and the filth visibly spilling out onto the ground below.
The black seat of the toilet, meanwhile, was crusted over with grime, and the reek inside the room was indescribably foul.
Staff at Washington-Liberty High School have reported the problem to Arlington County, officials said in an email obtained by ARLnow, because the lavatory is the responsibility of the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. A chart on the wall marking service done to the facility is, as one might expect, completely blank.
A tipster said that he witnessed a contractor for a portable toilet company try to access the bathroom, only to be stymied by the a locked gate. It’s a problem that W-L administrators say they have tried to address.
“We have reported this 3-4 times,” a school official said in an email to a resident. “The potties are placed there for public use of the track by Arlington Parks and Rec, not the school system. They have a key to the gate and are supposed to maintain it.”
After inquiries from ARLnow, a spokeswoman with the parks department said the situation is being addressed urgently.
“We have a contract to have the portable toilet cleaned on Tuesday and Thursday,” said DPR’s Susan Kalish. “We’ve notified the contractor of the issue and they are sending someone out immediately.”
Cristol Reacts to Lawmaker’s Arlington Suggestion — After another Republican state Senator suggested, jokingly, that Arlington and Alexandria go back to being part of D.C., Arlington’s state lawmakers and County Board member Katie Cristol were not amused. Cristol tweeted: “Hmmm, is it possible their grievance is that my diverse, progressive constituents are EXACTLY what it means to be a ‘Real Virginian’ in 2020?” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]
More on Planned Pentagon City Study — “County staff have been overwhelmed by a flood of new development applications in the area since Amazon announced its intentions to set up its second headquarters. And the sizes of some of those projects have been so large that staff have begun urging developers to be patient and wait for a revision of the area’s planning documents before pursuing them.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Man Struck, Killed by Driver — “A 29-year-old man from Arlington, Virginia, died early Saturday morning after being hit by a dark-colored SUV on Industrial Road near Backlick Road in Springfield. David Velasquez was walking in the right lane of Industrial Road at about 1 a.m. when he was hit by the driver, who did not stop, Fairfax County police.” [WTOP]
‘We Will Buy Your Tech Business’ Signs — “There are mysterious signs all over Ballston saying ‘We will buy your tech business…’ [A person who returned our call] said they’re just interested in talking to people looking to sell their business and are not interested in being the subject of a news story.” [Twitter]
W-L, Yorktown Face Off on Hard Court — “There was a double feature of nail-biting thrillers the evening of Jan. 30 in a packed and loud Washington-Liberty High School gymnasium. That’s where the Yorktown Patriots and Washington-Liberty Generals met in all-Arlington girls and boys varsity basketball games with close finishes. The Yorktown girls won in overtime, 53-50. Then, in the nightcap, the W-L boys won, 65-63, on a last second-shot in the Liberty District high-school contests.” [InsideNova]
Minor Apartment Fire — Arlington County firefighters responded to a small cooking fire in an apartment near Courthouse on Saturday. No one was hurt and only minor damage was reported, although the apartment did fill with smoke. [Twitter]
Gymboree at Pentagon City Mall — “A popular children’s clothing retailer that closed all of its stores a year ago is taking steps to re-enter the marketplace. Officials with Gymboree this week announced plans to relaunch the brand at more than 200 Children’s Place locations nationwide,” including at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. [Patch]
The Washington-Lee High School Alumni Association filed suit against the Arlington School Board last week, alleging that changing the school’s name to “Washington-Liberty” was done unlawfully and is causing harm to the association.
The 48-page suit, filed in Alexandria federal court, can be found here in PDF form. Arlington’s current interim superintendent, former superintendent and former deputy superintendent were also named as defendants, in their official capacities.
In the suit, the Alumni Association alleges that school administrators “deceived” the public by conducting a “sham process” that was predetermined to remove Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s “prestigious” name from the school.
This is a case where politicians and their associates actively deceived their constituents, including the Alumni Association and its members, in order to deprive them of their opportunity to comment on changes that would greatly harm their educational reputations. Specifically, these politicians conspired to impose their own political values on the community by changing the prestigious, century-old name of Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty High School, without concern for the fact that the students and alumni would no longer have the prestige of the original name.
Defendants knew that the public would not support such changes, and sought to actively stymie public debate on this issue. To that end, Defendants repeatedly and falsely promised their constituents that there would be a lengthy comment period later in the year where members of the public could weigh in on whether the school’s name should be changed. Then, instead of providing the promised comment period, Defendants suddenly and without warning made the decision to change the school’s name.
Alumni were denied Constitutionally-protected due process by school officials, the suit says, detailing how dissenting voices were allegedly shut out of the name change discussion.
As a result of Defendants’ strong-arm tactics, three Committee members resigned in protest of the sham process. These resignations included two of the three non-Board-affiliated Washington-Lee alumni. As a result, the version of the Naming Committee that delivered the “recommendation” to the Board contained only one Washington-Lee alumnus other than the daughter of the former Board member who had campaigned for the name change.
Although Defendants had promised that this time period would be designed to facilitate public commentary, Defendants banned members of the public from making any comments at the Naming Committee’s meetings. Instead, public comment was limited to a suggestion box that only allowed very brief statements. Moreover, comments in that suggestion box were subject to screening by Defendants and their agents before the Naming Committee could see them. Ultimately, the Naming Committee rarely discussed any of the public suggestions, in contrast to Defendants’ earlier promises that this phase existed to obtain public feedback.
The suit claims that the Alumni Association is suffering financial and membership losses as a result of the name change.
These actions have greatly harmed the Alumni Association and its members by, among other things, causing confusion in the Alumni Association’s operations, causing the Alumni Association to suffer financial loss and a decline in membership, and causing the Alumni Association’s members to lose the prestige associated with the school’s original name.
The association might have to shut down if the name of the school is not changed back to Washington-Lee, the suit suggests.