Tuesday, April 28
Alexandria Cases: 653
Virginia Cases: 14,339
Alexandria Deaths: 18
Virginia Deaths: 492
Monday, April 27
Alexandria Cases: 627
Alexandria Deaths: 18
MAINTAIN CHILDREN’S IMMUNIZATION Schedules: Pediatricians across Virginia have noted a decline in infants and children receiving their scheduled vaccinations, over concern about exposure to the coronavirus. During National Infant Immunization Week, parents are being reminded of the importance of keeping children up to date on vaccine schedules, to protect them from diseases that are preventable.
VIRGINIA GETS HELP: U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $14,857,347 in federal funding for the Commonwealth’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The funding, awarded through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases cooperative agreement, was made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The Virginia Department of Health can use the funds to establish or enhance the ability to aggressively identify cases, conduct contact tracing and follow up, as well as implement appropriate containment measures. It can also be used to improve morbidity and mortality surveillance, enhance testing capacity, control COVID-19 in high-risk settings and protect vulnerable or high-risk populations, as well as help healthcare systems manage and monitor system capacity.
Sunday, April 26
Alexandria Cases: 591
Virginia Cases: 12,970
Alexandria Deaths: 18
Virginia Deaths: 448
Saturday, April 25
Alexandria Cases: 575
Virginia Cases: 12,366
Alexandria Deaths: 18
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 575, including 18 fatalities.
Friday, April 24
Alexandria Cases: 547
Virginia Cases: 11,594
Alexandria Deaths: 15
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: “Over the last few weeks, several drugs, as well as home remedies, have been touted as ways to prevent or treat COVID-19. At this time, there is no specific treatment for coronavirus infections,” according to the Alexandria Health Department. “Treatment consists of supportive care, relief of symptoms, drinking plenty of fluids, staying at home to rest, and practicing home isolation and physical distancing within the household to avoid spreading infection to others. The Virginia Department of Health has developed Frequently Asked Questions about proposed treatments, remedies, and over-the-counter drugs.” See www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions/
BLEACH CLEANS HOUSES, NOT HUMANS: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns the public not to ingest disinfectant products; never apply the product to themselves or others; and never use these products with food. The agency also cautioned users to never mix products unless specified in the use directions, as certain combinations of chemicals and disinfectants will create toxic acids or gases. The agency also advises people to wash their hands after using a disinfectant. This minimizes the user’s exposure both to the chemicals in the disinfectant and to the virus the product is intended to kill. Information about disinfectants and safety can be found on the EPA’s Coronavirus page https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus
BUSINESS TASK FORCE: Gov. Ralph Northam formed the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Business Task Force, which will continue to provide advice and guidance to the Cabinet on a safe, responsible strategy for easing restrictions on businesses and individuals.
The task force consists of representatives from a variety of Virginia industries including restaurants, breweries, wineries, small and large retailers, fitness centers, hair salons, barber shops, spas and aestheticians, museums, hospitality groups, campgrounds and entertainment venues.
“These are Virginians who are thinking everyday about how to protect the health of their staff and the communities in which they operate,” said Northam. “They understand that our public health and business interests are aligned — we must take measures that both ensure the safety and confidence of consumers and prevent the spread of disease. Their input will continue to be critical as we plan a safe, consistent, successful path forward.”
Executive Order Fifty-Five, which directs Virginians to stay home unless they must leave for essential services like buying food or getting medical attention, remains in effect until June 10, 2020. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Virginia’s Stay at Home order can be found https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/faq/ Now extended through Friday, May 8, 2020, another executive order bans crowds of more than 10 people; closes recreation, entertainment, and personal care businesses; and limits restaurants to offering takeout and delivery services only.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO REOPEN? According to a presentation by the governor’s office, the Commonwealth is taking aggressive action, by closing schools, limiting gatherings, and a stay-home order. Virginia’s metrics for before moving to phase one include: percentage of positive tests over 14 days moving downward; rate of hospitalizations over 14 days going downward; adequate supply of hospital beds and intensive care beds; increasing and sustainable supply of PPE; increased testing and tracing. Then Virginia can move to phase one. Phase one would look like this: Some businesses reopen with strict safety restrictions; continued social distancing; continued teleworking; face coverings recommended in public.
Thursday, April 23
Alexandria Cases: 512
Virginia Cases: 10,998
Alexandria Deaths: 14
ALEXANDRIA FATALITIES INCREASE: The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 512, including 15 fatalities. A graph showing the history of cases and fatalities in Alexandria is available at alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus. The Virginia Department of Health is now counting cases that are considered “probable” in addition to positive test results in this total number. Probable cases include symptomatic patients diagnosed in a clinical setting, but not tested. City officials reiterate that it is essential for all community members, even those who don't have a diagnosed illness, to stay home except for essential trips such as brief visits to the pharmacy, doctor, or grocery store.
EXPIRED LICENSES VALID?: Virginia’s DMV offices and mobile units are closed until May 11, and Gov. Northam extended the validity of driver’s licenses and vehicle credentials that were due to expire. Those needing to renew a license or vehicle registration are encouraged to do so online. The Virginia State Police suspended enforcement of the time period in which new Virginia residents must get a driver’s license or register their vehicles, the expiration of temporary license plates, and the time period in which temporary residents may operate vehicles with out-of-state plates, and enforcement of motor vehicle inspections by Virginia State Police. Until further notice, the City of Alexandria will not issue citations for driver’s licenses, license plates, or safety inspection decals that expired after Feb. 29, 2020.
PETS WITH COVID: A small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19, according to the Alexandria Health Department. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes the disease. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets. Visit the CDC website to learn more about COVID-19 and pets.
ELECTIVE SURGERIES ON HOLD: The current ban on elective surgeries has been extended by one week, until May 1. “My top priority is protecting public health, and that includes ensuring that our frontline medical staff have the equipment they need to stay safe as they treat Virginians who are sick,” said Northam. The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient. The order also does not apply to outpatient visits in hospital-based clinics, family planning services or emergency needs.
Hospitals continue to treat emergency patients and perform essential surgeries, and Virginians should feel safe going to hospitals if they are experiencing a medical emergency, such as a heart attack.
FEDERAL TELEWORK HELPS ALL: Northam, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged the Trump administration to continue to keep telework policies in place for the federal workforce. More than one-fifth of the nation’s federal workforce lives in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“We know that a continued federal telework policy will help save lives by allowing more of our region’s 360,000 federal employees to work from home,” Hogan, Northam and Bowser wrote in a letter to Michael J. Rigas, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management.
“Failure to do so could lead to a rise in cases and delay our ability to re-open the region.”
CHILDREN NEED TO EAT: U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging swift approval of Virginia’s request to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program that would ensure that children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals will receive a supplemental food purchasing benefit to offset the cost of meals that would have been provided at school.
MEDICAID RECIPIENTS in Virginia now have easier access to medical care amid the current public health crisis. The Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) will have flexibility to make critical services more accessible to people who need them as a result of the pandemic.
The executive order eliminates copayments for individuals receiving coverage through the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) program. The order also ensures that Medicaid members can obtain replacements for prosthetics, orthotics, and other durable medical equipment and supplies that are lost or damaged without requiring in-person verifications or paperwork.
The executive order streamlines the process for admitting individuals to a nursing facility by suspending preadmission screening requirements. The order also allows personal care, respite, and companion providers to work for up to 60 days, rather than the current 30 days, while background checks are conducted. Supervision and training requirements still apply.
Wednesday, April 22
Alexandria Cases: 474
Virginia Cases: 10,266
Alexandria Deaths: 11
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 474, including 13 fatalities. A graph showing the history of cases and fatalities in Alexandria is available at alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus.
HELP FOR BUSINESSES: The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership has an updated collection of COVID-19 resources for businesses, including information on disaster assistance; tax and regulatory changes; support for affected workers; government response; how to support local small businesses, and more. Visit Alx at Home at www.visitalexandriava.com/alxathome/ to experience Alexandria’s restaurants, shops and attractions while staying at home. From virtual shopping at local boutiques to restaurant delivery to virtual ghost tours, see more than 100 ways to support the independent businesses that make Alexandria so special.
The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 Updates and Resources webpage provides links to webinars and updates on the operating status of local businesses, and links to other resources.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated frequently asked questions for businesses, including information about reducing the spread of COVID-19; workplace cleaning and disinfection; dealing with potential or confirmed cases in the workplace; healthy business operations; and critical infrastructure. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/general-business-faq.html
COPING STRATEGIES, NOT ALCOHOL: The risk for misusing alcohol and other substances increases during times of stress, like the COVID-19 crisis. The Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria reminds residents of the dangers of substance misuse and the importance of healthy coping practices. See https://www.alexandriava.gov/DCHSConnect
SURVIVED COVID? CONSIDER DONATING PLASMA: People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that could attack the virus. This “convalescent plasma” is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease. For more information, including eligibility criteria, visit the American Red Cross www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/plasma-donations-from-recovered-covid-19-patients.html
Tuesday, April 21
Alexandria Cases: 462
Virginia Cases: 9630
Alexandria Deaths: 9
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 462, including 11 fatalities. A new graph showing the history of cases and fatalities in Alexandria is now available at alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus.
AFRICAN-AMERICANS HOSPITALIZED MORE:
The Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) daily dashboard now includes case, hospitalization, and fatality information by age, sex, and limited information for race for Alexandria. COVID-19 affects every age group, gender, and race and ethnicity.
The distribution of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria by age and race are similar to the overall age and race distribution of Alexandria residents, however patients over 65 and African Americans seem to have higher rates of hospitalization if they contract the virus. This aligns with nationwide research on health outcomes. Underlying health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can create additional complications and more severe symptoms if someone contracts COVID-19.
For generations, historically discriminatory systems in education, housing, and the workforce have created conditions that contribute to higher rates of chronic conditions in communities of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these existing inequities in health outcomes.
These types of differences in health outcomes have been a longstanding concern in Alexandria and across the country. AHD and community partners like the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria have been working for years to eliminate these differences and ensure everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health and well-being. AHD and the City are working with diverse, at-risk communities throughout Alexandria to provide information about COVID-19: what it is, what people can do to prevent it, and, for those who do not have a doctor or health insurance, where they can seek testing and care.
NO MORE RACISM. Sen. Warner and 28 colleagues condemned increased harassment and violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a letter to President Donald Trump, the Senators stressed that America’s leaders have a responsibility to avoid using rhetoric that fuels racism towards Asian Americans, and to prevent confusion about COVID-19 from being exploited to target communities of color.
Waner has previously urged the coronavirus taskforce only to distribute accurate information about the virus and dispel misinformation or discriminatory rhetoric to help prevent suspicion, panic and race-based assaults.
48 HOURS EQUALS 365 DAYS?: Families on Social Security, who do not normally file tax returns, needed to enter additional information on the IRS website within 48 hours in order to receive their $500 payment per dependent child, as outlined in the CARES Act, according to the Treasury Department. If families missed the deadline, they would not receive the additional payment until they file in 2021. The Treasury’s announcement also indicated that it would soon set a similar deadline for recipients of Supplemental Security Income and certain Department of Veterans Affairs benefits whose beneficiaries also do not usually file taxes.
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and 34 of their Senate colleagues calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to ensure that families who are not normally required to file taxes – and who will automatically receive their COVID-19 stimulus payment – do not need to wait until next year to receive the additional $500 payment per dependent child that they were promised if they miss the deadline to fill out information in the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) non-filer portal.
“We request that the Treasury find another way forward that – without delaying any automatic $1,200 payments – ensures that these Social Security beneficiaries and their children quickly receive the full amount of cash assistance for which they are eligible,” the Senators said.
HYDROXYCHOLOROQUINE DOES HELP...THE RIGHT PEOPLE: Millions of Americans with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and malaria depend on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treatment. In particular, hydroxychloroquine helps lupus patients reduce and manage their symptoms and increase their survival chances. Following reports that millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have been donated to the Strategic National Stockpile and bought in excess by hospitals and pharmacies for use in treating patients with COVID-19, Sens. Warner and Kaine have heard from Virginians and health care providers who are worried they won’t have access to these lifesaving drugs they depend upon.
“We are concerned that the recent attention given to these drugs as potential treatments for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has severely diminished the supply and may prevent patients with chronic conditions from accessing life-saving care. We urge you to work to ensure patients have access to these drugs, on which they have long depended,” the Senators wrote to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.
“Patients cannot – and should not – simply stop taking their medication. Our understanding is that if lupus patients stop taking the medication, they may develop withdrawal symptoms that may require hospitalization. If unable to take the drugs they rely on, there may be a spike in hospitalized lupus patients at a time when hospital beds are already at capacity with COVID-19 patients, further overwhelming our health care system.”