FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — The Fairfax Health District led Virginia localities with 80 cases of the new coronavirus, the Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday. Last weekend, the local health department reported the death of a hospitalized Fairfax County man in his 60s, the first death related to coronavirus in Northern Virginia. The health district includes Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Falls Church City.
The 80 cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health include one in Fairfax City, but the numbers for Falls Church City were not reported. Two cases had been announced at The Kensington Falls Church, an assisted living and memory care facility.
Testing capacity has been a challenge due to shortages of personal protective equipment across the U.S. and limited supplies to collect specimens for testing. A doctor may opt not to test a person due to lack of materials for testing. The Fairfax County Health Department says new testing capability from commercial laboratories gives doctors "wider latitude to order testing."
Inova Health System opened three respiratory health clinics Wednesday to evaluate patients and collect specimens for testing. The clinics, open at Inova Urgent Care Dulles South, Inova Urgent Care North Arlington and Inova Urgent Care Tysons, operate daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Patients must contact their doctor for an evaluation before visiting a respiratory health clinic.
The COVID-19 outbreak has prompted various operating changes and closures around the county. Fairfax County government will close its remaining facilities to the public starting at 5 p.m. Friday, March 27 in an attempt to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. Courts remain open on limited dockets. Check for specific updates from Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court.
The county previously closed senior centers, adult day health care centers, community centers, libraries and parks. The park closures apply to parking lots, athletic fields, sport courts, restrooms, nature centers, visitor centers, golf courses, historic sites, picnic areas, playgrounds, amusements, boat launches, skate parks, off-leash dog areas, outdoor fitness equipment and open recreation areas. Trails are open for individual use.
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K-12 schools are closed through the remainder of the academic year under an executive order from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Fairfax County Public Schools, which serves approximately 189,000 students, is preparing a distance learning plan and is sharing daily updates with families. The school district expects Standards of Learning (SOL) tests to be cancelled as the Virginia Department of Education seeks a waiver from the U.S. Dept. of Education. The school district continues to offer grab-and-go meal distribution sites, pop-up distribution sites, curbside pickup at two schools, and meal delivery along some bus routes.
The governor's executive order also banned gatherings of more than 10 people and closed non-essential recreation and entertainment businesses at the end of Tuesday, March 24. That closure order applies to theaters, performing arts centers, museums, concert venues, fitness centers, recreation centers, arcades, trampoline parks and more. See the full list in the executive order.
The following businesses may operate with take-out and delivery only: restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, farmers markets, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries and tasting rooms. Dining and congregation areas are not allowed.
Businesses considered essential can continue operating with regular hours. This includes grocery stores; pharmacies; medical retailers; retailers selling communications technology; automotive parts retailers; automotive repair facilities; home improvement retailers; beer, wine and liquor stores; banks; pet stores; laundromats; dry cleaners and other essential businesses.
On Wednesday, Northam directed hospitals to halt elective surgeries or procedures to help maintain supplies of personal protective equipment for the COVID-19 response. The order doesn't apply to procedures in which a delay would harm a patient or to outpatient visits in hospital-based clinics, family planning services, or emergency needs.
More Fairfax County coronavirus updates:
Great Falls Park continues to operate with changes amid the new coronavirus situation. At times during the March 21-22 weekends, the park was busy enough that parking filled up.
The Lamb Center is no longer a place where you'll see the homeless sit down for a meal or hang around to use the center's various services. The new coronavirus outbreak has prompted changes at the Lamb Center, but its guests, volunteers and partnering churches have stepped up to adjust so the homeless can continue receiving services they rely on.
On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted for one-month extensions on the first installment of real estate taxes as well as vehicle and business personal property tax filings.
While the new coronavirus outbreak may be worrisome to all residents, elderly individuals and people with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for developing severe illness. Gov. Ralph Northam recommended these groups self-quarantine for their safety, but they may need help taking care of groceries and other necessities. If you're wondering if you can help, the answer is yes.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay called for federally-supported testing sites for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the DC region. McKay, the board chair of Virginia's most populous jurisdiction, wrote to the request to President Trump in a letter Monday. He joined state leaders in pushing for the DC region to become a priority location for federally-supported testing sites along with Boston, New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Santa Clara, California.
After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered K-12 schools to close for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, Fairfax County Public Schools is determining the next steps. The School Board called an emergency session Monday.
A drive-thru testing site for the new coronavirus has opened for patients of Alexandria Immediate Care, a primary care and urgent care center in Huntington. AllCare has three drive-thru testing sites in the DC region: Alexandria Immediate Care, AllCare Ellicott City, and AllCare DC. Testing is available for patients following a telemedicine video appointment.
Inova Health System suspended in-person hospital visitation in most situations as of 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. The decision was made for the safety of patients, staff and the community in light of the new coronavirus outbreak. The restrictions apply to Inova Fairfax, Inova Alexandria, Inova Fair Oaks, Inova Loudoun and Inova Mount Vernon, while the children's hospital and women's and childbirth services outlined similar policies. The hospitals encourage families to connect through video meetings.