Alexandria: This Week in Covid

Alexandria Cases: • June 29: 2,317 • June 22: 2,236

Virginia Cases: • June 29: 62,189 • June 22: 58,465

United States Cases: • June 29: 2,504,175 • June 22: 2,275,645

Alexandria Deaths: • June 29: 57 • June 22: 49

Virginia Deaths: • June 29: 1,740 • June 22: 1,620

United States Deaths: • June 29: 125,484 • June 22: 119,923

Monday, June 29

CONTACT TRACERS: The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) encourages all Virginians to respond and engage with legitimate contact tracing calls and emails while remaining vigilant against scams. Caller ID will read “VDH COVID Team.”

The Commonwealth employs contact tracers to notify individuals who have been exposed to known cases of COVID-19. Contact tracers will offer information, encourage individuals to monitor themselves for symptoms, and refer those who develop symptoms for medical evaluation and testing to help contain the spread in Virginia. Contact tracing saves lives by preventing the spread of COVID-19, if every Virginian will answer calls, text messages, or emails from the Commonwealth’s contact tracers.

SCAMS: Recognizing the signs of a scam is important. Contact tracers will not ask for money or information such as a Social Security Number, bank account details, or credit card numbers. The Commonwealth does not charge individuals for contact tracing services.

EVICTION OR FORECLOSURE RELIEF: The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program will provide $50 million in federal funding for households facing eviction or foreclosure due to COVID-19. Rent and Mortgage Relief Program will provide short-term financial assistance on behalf of households in the form of rent and mortgage payments.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will administer the $50 million program through a variety of partners, including nonprofit organizations and local governments. To conduct a self-assessment for eligibility, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or call 211 VIRGINIA by dialing 2-1-1 from your phone. Tenants and homeowners are encouraged to know their rights and responsibilities and pay their rent and mortgages on time if they are able. Visit StayHomeVirginia.com for additional information and resources.

Sunday, June 28

NINE MORE: The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 2,312, including 57 fatalities.

METRO STATIONS REOPEN: Eisenhower Avenue and Van Dorn Street Metrorail Stations opens June 28, along with 17 other stations throughout the Metro system. Buses from underutilized lines will be added to 14 of the busiest bus lines beginning June 29. Many stations and stops were closed in March, in an effort to conserve cleaning supplies during the early stages of the pandemic. Riders are reminded that face coverings are required inside all stations, trains and buses. Physical distancing should be maintained whenever possible.

Saturday, June 27

SIXTEEN MORE: The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 2,303, including 57 fatalities, after the health department reported one more fatality.

WATER TAXI RUNNING: Potomac Water Taxi resumed limited service between Alexandria, National Harbor and Washington, D.C., with dining cruises resuming on June 27. A number of procedures have been put in place, including requiring face coverings for all guests, ages 3 and up; physical distancing and touchless entry boarding and ticketing; and reduced capacity onboard. Employees are required to undergo a health screening prior to boarding and all surfaces are disinfected regularly.

FOOD DISTRIBUTED: ALIVE! will distribute food to those needing assistance during the pandemic on the last Saturday of each month. Drive-through and walk-up options will be available from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., or until supplies run out, in the parking lots of Cora Kelly and John Adams Elementary Schools. In order to observe no-contact distribution and physical distance requirements, drivers must remain in their cars and walk-ups must stand at least 6 feet apart and wear face coverings.

The Alexandria Health Department concentrated and fortified its decision-making processes into Public Health Justice Principles.

Prioritizing science-based recommendations –understanding that such recommendations will change with science’s understanding of a novel disease like COVID-19 – to reduce the risk of harm to individuals or populations and to maximize effectiveness of limited resources.

Focusing resources on saving lives of those in high-risk populations (such as older adults, persons living in long-term care facilities, and those with serious underlying medical conditions).

Engaging and empowering Alexandrians most in need, recognizing certain members of the community (usually as the elderly, communities of color, and low-income residents) are not only most susceptible to chronic and infectious disease, but also are often marginalized in civic conversations and decision making. AHD will continue to engage community leaders and residents to inform communications strategies that empower them to take appropriate COVID-19 mitigation actions, and through meaningful community engagement, develop strategies for access to care and other resources.

The health department also published the fourth of a series, Strategic Action Framework: Vulnerable Residential Buildings. Vulnerable residential buildings include apartment buildings, duplexes or townhomes that serve populations at high risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19, such as seniors; those living in crowded conditions, low-income residents, or are located in neighborhoods with high rates of confirmed COVID-19 infections. This framework summarizes objectives and tactics being used to support Alexandria’s senior housing and vulnerable residential buildings in infection control, outbreak prevention, and mitigation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Priority tactics include: sharing resources and information about best practices to stop the spread; determining use of infection control measures. working with building staff to utilize best practices; and supporting the alteration of building conditions to encourage healthy behaviors.

Out of School Time half-day programs and group game activities are being offered by the City of Alexandria. All programs are available to Alexandria residents ages 6-12 who have attended Kindergarten through 6th grade.

Friday, June 26

SIX FATALITIES: The Alexandria Health Department reported 16 additional COVID-19 Cases and 6 more fatalities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 2,287, including 56 fatalities. “This represents the Virginia Department of Health’s ongoing review of death certificate data, and does not represent a recent, sudden spike in COVID-19 related fatalities. Fatalities are added to Alexandria’s count on the date they are reported, not on the date of the death. The six most recent fatalities to be added to Alexandria’s count actually occurred in April and early May,” according to the health department.

MORE AT RISK: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated and expanded the list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19. Consistent evidence has shown that specific conditions increase a person’s risk of severe COVID-19 illness at any age, including chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obesity, weakened immune system from a solid organ transplant, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, and type II diabetes. The CDC also amended the list of other conditions that might increase a person’s risk of severe illness, including additions such as asthma; high blood pressure; neurologic conditions such as dementia; cerebrovascular disease such as stroke; and pregnancy. Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.

COVID ANIMATION: The City has released a series of animated videos in numerous languages to help communicate the role everyone plays in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The first video, Six Steps to Stop the Spread explains the vital steps to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Another video in the series addresses all the preventive measures to take when you are sick, and how to prevent spreading the virus to friends, coworkers and loved ones. The last video offers a variety of resources for those in need of help during the pandemic. Whether it’s food, health care, substance abuse, child care or other needs, there is support available.

OUTDOOR REC and BUSINESS: The City is expanding opportunities for restaurants, retail businesses and fitness centers to operate outdoors. Retail businesses may request the use of sidewalks, on-street parking spaces and privately-owned parking lots and spaces to display their products and conduct sales. Similarly, fitness and health businesses may request the use of privately owned parking lots and spaces to offer classes and provide access to fitness equipment. Interested businesses should contact the Department of Planning & Zoning to request the correct form for their business zone. Requests must be reviewed by the City prior to setting up the alternative areas for outdoor dining, retail display, and sales and fitness business use. There is no fee for these requests. The programs are in effect until August 27 and may be extended or shortened upon future notice.

Thursday, June 25

THIRTEEN MORE: The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 2,271, including 50 fatalities

PROMISE FOR SAFETY: The ALX Promise program, offered by AHD in partnership with Visit Alexandria, trains business owners and operators how to properly and effectively create a safe, sanitized environment for customers and patrons. Businesses that complete the training receive an ALX Promise shield to display. All Alexandria businesses are encouraged to participate. Visit Alexandria offers a list of businesses that have completed the program.

Wednesday, June 24

Alexandria reported 10 new cases and one more fatality. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 2,258, including 50 fatalities.

As Virginia prepares to move into Phase Three of the Forward Virginia blueprint on July 1, a catalog of more than 180 COVID-19 related signs, flyers, postcards and digital banners is available for download and print for residents, businesses, residential property managers, facilities, and houses of worship to communicate guidance and rules about face coverings, hand hygiene and physical distancing. Many documents are available in English, Amharic, Arabic and Spanish.

Tuesday, June 23

TWELVE MORE: Alexandria reported 12 new cases; the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 2,248, including 49 fatalities.

MORE HOMELESS: The 2020 Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count revealed The total number of persons identified during the 2020 Count increased by 5% from 2019.

207 persons experiencing homelessness (i.e., unsheltered and in temporary shelter made available by homeless services providers) in the City of Alexandria. This included: 32 Households with Adults and Children (36 Adults and 50 Children); 121 Singles (85 Men, 36 Women), including:11 Unsheltered Singles 15 Chronically Homeless Singles.

The Office of Community Services (OCS) presented the data on June 11 to the Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness (PPEH) in the City of Alexandria, a public-private collaborative that serves as the local Continuum of Care and conducted the count on January 22.

OCS staff also highlighted race and ethnicity breakdowns to exemplify racial disparities in the homeless population, such as a total of 65% of people experiencing homeless in Alexandria on January 22 were African American, despite being approximately 21% of Alexandria’s total population.

DON’T DELAY TREATMENT: A June 22 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that visits to U.S. emergency departments decreased for potentially life-threatening conditions during the first 10 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic: a 23% decrease for heart attacks, 20% decrease for strokes, and 10% decrease for uncontrolled high blood sugar. The report suggests that patients may have avoided or delayed seeking emergency care because of fear of COVID-19, or because of unintended consequences of stay-at-home orders. AHD reminds everyone that persons experiencing signs or symptoms of a heart attack (chest pain, shortness of breath); stroke (loss of motor function, altered mental status); uncontrolled high blood sugar (feeling very tired, feeling thirsty, blurred vision) or any other life-threatening issue, should call or text 911 immediately.

PHASE THREE PROMISED: Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Virginia will enter Phase Three of the “Forward Virginia” blueprint on July 1. Phase Three eases capacity restrictions for social gatherings, nonessential businesses, restaurants, fitness centers and pools; and child care and entertainment facilities can reopen. Because COVID-19 is still present, face coverings will still be required, and physical distancing, good hand hygiene and teleworking whenever possible are still vitally important.

HARMFUL SANITIZER: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning against the use of any hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem. The FDA sampled nine hand sanitizer products produced by Eskbiochem and found the presence of up to 81% methanol, which can be toxic if ingested or absorbed by the skin. Symptoms of substantial methanol exposure can include nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision and permanent blindness, and can lead to permanent damage to the nervous system and death if untreated. The best method for sanitizing hands is to wash them with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol.

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