Coronavirus update for April 9: 149 cases in Alexandria

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(Graphic/Lyvi Sieg)
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By Missy Schrott | [email protected]

The Alexandria Health Department reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria on April 8, bringing total cases to 149. The number of cases in the city have more than tripled in the past week.

AHD reported the first Alexandria resident to die from respiratory complications caused by COVID-19 on April 6. The resident had been hospitalized.

As of April 9, there are 11,766 reported cases of coronavirus in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., according to the Washington Post. Virginia has reported 4,042 cases, including 109 deaths.

As the pandemic has escalated, the region has entered an increasing state of shutdown. On March 30, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay at home order for the state. Residents should not leave their homes unless it’s for essential reasons.

On April 3, both the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the City of Alexandria issued recommendations that all residents wear cloth masks every time they leave their homes to prevent community spread of COVID-19.

This page will continue to be updated with new developments pertaining to coronavirus in Alexandria.

Alexandria cases

The Alexandria Health Department has reported 149 COVID-19 cases in Alexandria. AHD reported the first death of an Alexandria resident caused by COVID-19 on April 6. AHD has not released the name or age of the resident who died.

“My colleagues and I are saddened by the first confirmed death of an Alexandria resident due to COVID-19, and our thoughts are with their loved ones,” AHD Director Dr. Stephen Haering said in a statement. “The best way to honor our neighbor is to recommit ourselves to the most effective ways to stop this virus: Stay at home as much as possible, wash hands frequently and maintain six feet of personal space whenever you can. Everyone has a role in reducing the impacts of this pandemic. We must all be vigilant to protect ourselves and especially our most vulnerable community members.”

AHD reported the first case of coronavirus in Alexandria on March 11. Below is a list of reported cases in Alexandria by date.

  • March 11: 1
  • March 15: 2
  • March 17: 4
  • March 20: 6
  • March 23: 9
  • March 24: 13
  • March 25: 14
  • March 26: 20
  • March 27: 24
  • March 28: 28
  • March 29: 32
  • March 30: 36
  • March 31: 44
  • April 1: 55
  • April 2: 67
  • April 3: 77
  • April 4: 93
  • April 5: 104
  • April 6: 130
  • April 7: 141
  • April 8: 149

AHD has provided little information about the cases. However, AHD is identifying and contacting individuals who came in close contact with the confirmed cases, according to a news release.

State orders

In accordance with guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control, on April 3 Gov. Northam urged residents to wear cloth masks when they leave their homes.

Gov. Northam issued an executive order on March 30 ordering all Virginians to stay at home. Per the mandatory order, people cannot go out except for food, supplies, work, exercise or to seek medical care. The order is in place until June 10, unless rescinded or extended by another executive order. 

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also issued stay at home orders on March 30.

On April 3, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) announced three auxiliary hospital sites will be built in Virginia – one in Northern Virginia, one in Richmond and one in the Tidewater area. Northern Virginia’s auxiliary hospital will be at the Dulles Expo Center and will have the capacity to house more than 500 regular beds or more than 300 ICU beds. Northam said the sites would be completed “sometime in May.” While Virginia’s projected case peak, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, is May 20, it is not clear whether Northern Virginia’s caseload may peak earlier, closer to the projected peaks for D.C. (April 15) or Maryland (April 29).

On March 23, Northam issued an order with restrictions for schools, gatherings and businesses. Per the order, all gatherings of more than 10 people are banned statewide. Exceptions to this rule include medical services, food banks, operations of the media, law enforcement agencies and operations of government.

Other restrictions include:

  • All schools must remain closed through the end of the academic year. 
  • Nonessential recreation and entertainment businesses must close to the public.
  • Dining areas at restaurants must close to the public. Restaurants can still offer carryout and delivery.
  • Nonessential retail businesses must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment.
  • Nonessential professional businesses must use telework as much as possible. 

City response

City council declared a local state of emergency at its public hearing on March 14. Council has held several emergency meetings since. 

On April 6, the city sent out a news release asking residents to reduce the waste they discard in order to help protect collection crews. An increase in residential waste since mid-March has been straining regional waste management systems, according to the release.

Therefore, the city requests that residents dispose of used wipes, tissues and paper towels in trash bags that are tied shut, refrain from generating large amounts of waste and flatten cardboard boxes. For residents with city-issued trash bins, anything placed outside the bins will not be collected starting April 13. Yard waste pickup in Alexandria remains suspended until further notice.

As of March 22, all City of Alexandria facilities are now either closed to the public or open by appointment only until further notice, according to a news release. Closed facilities include recreation, nature and art centers, museums, indoor historic sites and library branches. The city closed its public playgrounds, fenced play areas and fenced dog parks on March 21. 

All other facilities, including city hall, are available by appointment only. For more information or to request an appointment, call 311 or 703-746-4311. 

The city government’s core services remain open; however city employees are working remotely when possible, according to the city website.

ACT for Alexandria and the City of Alexandria have partnered to reinstate the ACT Now Fund during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the March 14 public hearing, council approved allocating $100,000 to the ACT Now Fund and $20,000 to ALIVE! for bulk food purchases. The money is coming from the city’s FY2020 City Snow Removal Account. 

All money collected through the ACT Now Fund will go toward providing critical resources to nonprofit organizations on the frontline of serving the community, according to an ACT for Alexandria news release.

As of April 7, the fund had raised $324,409. Donate at www.givegab.com/campaigns/actnowcovid19fund.

As far as parking, the city has suspended enforcement of restrictions for the general public in residential parking permit zones, weekend time restrictions and meter fees on blocks with pay stations, time restrictions for street sweeping, the prohibition against parking on the street for more than 72 hours and the requirement to display a valid state inspection sticker. 

The city has has also suspended enforcement of certain regulations in order to help struggling restaurants. The city will not enforce delivery regulations, hours-of-operation restrictions, sidewalks or parking lot vending restrictions or local restrictions on alcohol sales, including off-premises alcohol sales and delivery, according to a news release.

Schools

Due to coronavirus, Alexandria City Public Schools closed all schools on March 16. While the division had planned to reopen on April 13, Gov. Northam announced on March 23 that all K-12 schools in Virginia will need to close until the end of the school year.

During closures, ACPS has promised to continue providing meals for children in need, and as well as any families who request it. On March 16, ACPS began to fulfill 5,000 meal requests for families. Bagels, breakfast bars, fresh fruit and milk are among the items being distributed, according to a news release.

On March 23, ACPS expanded its food distribution to more locations. Now, ACPS will be providing breakfast and lunch meals for any ACPS student on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. at four locations across the city: William Ramsay Elementary School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology and Jefferson-Houston PreK- 8 IB School, according to a news release.

The virus

Common symptoms of coronavirus to appear two to 14 days after exposure include coughing, fever over 100.4 degrees and shortness of breath. The CDC recommends that anyone who suspects they have symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and call their healthcare provider for medical advice. 

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, according to the CDC. The CDC is recommending that people frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

The Alexandria Health Department recommends that all community members change their daily behavior and follow the governor’s stay at home order to reduce risk from COVID-19. 

Testing

Testing in Alexandria is limited to patients with symptoms of COVID-19 and a doctor’s order, city spokesman Craig Fifer said.

Tests are processed by private providers, not the city. Therefore, patients with symptoms should contact their doctors for more information about testing.

There are currently not enough test kits in the region to do drive-through testing in Alexandria, Fifer said.

(Read more: Local businesses feel the impact of coronavirus)

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