Stories for May 2020

Stories for May 2020


Friday, May 29

Opinion: Commentary: Unemployment Crisis Throughout the Commonwealth

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic that is not health-related remains the ongoing unemployment crisis throughout the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, May 27

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Park Goers Take Advantage of Openings on Memorial Day Weekend

At parks along the Parkway, many enjoyed the sunshine as relief from the quarantine days.

Parks open in Mount Vernon

Tuesday, May 26

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Organizing Boxes of Old Photos

The daunting project can be broken down into smaller tasks.

Stacks of boxes containing thousands of photographs line the walls of the basement in Alice Denson’s Fairfax home. For the past five years, the 73-year old mother and grandmother has promised herself and her family that she would begin the monumental task of sorting and organizing the photos.

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Fairfax County’s Week in COVID-19

Northern Virginia will open into Phase 1 on Thursday, May 28.

OPENING NOW: Northern Virginia will open into Phase 1 on Thursday, May 28.

Opinion: Column: Time Will Have Been Told

In two days I will have completed four weeks on my low iodine diet (no chocolate, no salt, no dairy, no bread) with four days remaining until my one-night hospital admission and subsequent seven-day medical quarantine at home.

Reduced Budget For Fairfax County Public Schools

The Fairfax County School Board has approved the revised Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) budget. The budget, revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced the previously recommended transfer increase from Fairfax County from $85.5 million to $7.3 million and includes a reduction of $4.8 million from the state. Along with other budget cuts, the total amount of the FY 21 budget was reduced by $67.0 million.

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Local TraceX Team Develops Contact Tracing App

Since late February, our small team of UVA and Notre Dame students has been working on developing an early model of a bluetooth-based contact tracing app called TraceX.

Wakefield and Lorton Farmers Markets Scheduled to Open

Two more Fairfax County Farmers Markets will open next week. The Wakefield Market in Wakefield Park will open for the season on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, and the Lorton Market at the Lorton VRE parking lot will open on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

Monday, May 25

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Neighborhood Health Holds Its First COVID-19 Free Community Testing Event in Arlandria

Neighborhood Health, a local non-profit community health center serving primarily low-income and uninsured populations, has just completed its first community COVID-19 testing day in the Arlandria neighborhood of Alexandria, where 236 residents received free COVID-19 tests on Saturday, May 16.

Saturday, May 23

Opinion: Commentary: Where Should the NVTA Spend $500 Million of Your Money?

Now is the time to help direct transportation funds to our community.


Opinion: Commentary: Don’t GO (Yet), But Still “Visit”

Just as I reported to you about our nonprofits and local small businesses, our many historic, cultural and arts sites in the Mount Vernon District are currently closed to visitors. Our favorite sites are using their time to create virtual experiences to engage their visitors in new ways and leading fundraising efforts to offset lost revenue.

Opinion: Commentary: Early Economic Impact of COVID-19

Virginia is gradually and cautiously opening up after the coronavirus lockdown. However, we must navigate a rough fiscal road ahead due to a precipitous drop in tax revenues due to the economic impact of this crisis.

Thursday, May 21

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Appetite: Food Trucks Lift Spirits, Bring Community to Cameron Station

It’s a tale as old as time: Communities finding common ground with food, sharing meals together, looking forward to events that center on a family meal, a special occasion.

Wednesday, May 20

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Keeping Nursing Home Residents Safe

On behalf of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), I’d like to thank all those who work in nursing facilities -- doctors, nurses, food preparers, housekeepers, and others -- for their unwavering dedication to compassionately caring for the vulnerable residents who are relying on them during the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities have been on the front lines of the pandemic, and our hearts are with all of those who have been affected by this virus and their families.

Opinion: Column: Time Will Tell

Nearly three weeks into my low iodine diet, in preparation for my hospital overnight on May 28 when I will get my radioactive iodine therapy, to be followed immediately by a medical quarantine at home for a week, I wouldn't say I'm thriving. More like persevering. I can't really satiate eating "rabbit" food, and what culinary pleasures I can enjoy, I can only have them in small quantities and infrequently at that. I won't give you a list, but just consider what any 10-year-old likes to eat.

Fairfax County Parks Reopening Begins in Time for Memorial Day Weekend

The Park Authority has begun reopening of parking lots and parks in the park system to be open for the Memorial Day weekend. Park Authority staff will begin the process of clearing barricades and opening parking lots at all 427 parks for the community on Wednesday, May 20 through Friday, May 22. These parks will reopen for limited use in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines from the Virginia Governor’s office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Fairfax County School Board Celebrates Class of 2020

Superintendent Scott Brabrand releases Board decisions.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand dashed any remaining hopes of summer in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020. After receiving results from high school students and parents on his Survey on Graduation Preferences, Brabrand said the School Board agreed on his recommended approach. They committed to celebrating the seniors "in the safest and most personalized manner possible."

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Fairfax Week in Coronavirus

Fairfax County cases increase more than 1,600 in last week, and Virginia rises more than 6,000 cases as most of the state eases restrictions.


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Parental Burnout on Distance Learning During COVID-19

How to survive until the end of the school year.

Whether deciphering algebraic equations and trying to teach them to a disinterested child or helping with a science experiment during a Zoom conference call, for parents who are trying to homeschool their children during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the struggle is real. Last fall, some parents developed a plan to deal with the academic burnout that occurs as the school year neared an end. Little did they know that the plan they created would be themselves.

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Stay-at-Home Order Allows More Time for Road Construction in Virginia

When traffic is down, the crews extend time with lane closures, resulting in project progress.

The quarantine that seems to have no end is having some positive impacts. With most businesses closed and most people staying home most of the time, rush hours have been minimal, gas use is down, local streets are becoming the roads less traveled. For road crews, this is time to pick up the pace.

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Fairfax County School Board Considers Fall 2020 Options

Three back-to-school scenarios presented.

What might school look like to children in Fairfax County Public Schools this fall — remote learning or social distance learning with masks and temperature checks? Which students would schools bring back first — the older ones or most vulnerable? And what might students face when they get there — a climb back to grade level or multi-age classes?

Fairfax County Supervisors Approve Budget Plan, Fairfax RISE

Highlights of May 12 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Some of the first words Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said at the May 12 Board of Supervisors meeting were for county families; in particular, those who lost loved ones or had family members hospitalized with the coronavirus. "If we could keep them and their entire families in our thoughts and prayers," McKay said. "As a reminder, our County flag continues to fly at half-staff, throughout the County at our facilities, in honor of the residents who sadly died as a result of COVID-19 and in recognition of our many essential workers who are responding to the pandemic," he said.

Opinion: Commentary: The Story of 22305 Is Not Unique to Alexandria

As the coronavirus spreads and more testing is performed, anxious residents are demanding more information regarding the rate of infection in their communities.

Monday, May 18

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First Physical Gathering Since COVID for Mount Vernon Church

Washington Community Church holds two services on Mother’s Day.

The Washington Community Church in Mount Vernon held back to back Mother's Day drive in worship services on Sunday. Live music, gift bags for mothers, and a sermon from Pastors Steve and Zury Bradcovich atop a makeshift stage on a rented flatbed truck.

Saturday, May 16

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Wrong Approach for Stream Restoration

The biggest problem with the so-called natural channel design approach to stream "restoration" for us in the greater Washington, D.C. region is that it is planned and implemented in completely the wrong places: small order, interior forested, upper headwater streams and wetlands.

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Dismayed

I was dismayed to read the very one-sided and mostly inaccurate version of an event taking place in my neighborhood.

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Role of Local Newspapers?

Local newspapers play an important role in our community life because they identify local issues that are often overlooked by national news but which nonetheless impact our day-to-day lives. We look to local newspapers to provide a balanced presentation of these local issues.

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Plan Many Years in the Works and Supported by Majority of the Community

[My Gazette was delivered late this issue; but I write anyway, to object to the "reporting" cited below.] The value of a community newspaper lies in its ability to treat local issues in some depth and with fairness and accuracy.

Opinion: Commentary: Battling the Coronavirus – Efforts Must Be Expanded

It has been four months since the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first case of coronavirus disease, called COVID-19, in the United States. As of May 11, over 800 Virginians have died, 3,200 hospitalized and over 25,000 Virginians have tested positive for this virus. Only about 1.7% of Virginians or 147,000 have been tested. Our hospitalization rate has continued to climb with over 1,500 people currently in the hospital. The rate of infection has slowed, but this virus has hit our community very unevenly.

Opinion: Commentary: FY 2021 – The COVID-19 Budget

This is not the budget any of us were hoping to approve this year.

Tuesday, the Board adopted the County Executive's amended FY 2021 Budget proposal. While this is not the budget any of us were hoping to approve this year, it is necessary as we pivot to address the needs created by COVID-19.

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: ‘Dubious Agreement’

Today's article [5/7/20 Mount Vernon Gazette, page 4] by Mike Salmon about the Hollin Hills Project is very well written, explaining carefully the issue.

Opinion: Commentary: Have You Filled Out Your Census?

I am sure, and certainly hope, that you have heard a lot about the decennial census in the last few months, not only from my office but from many sources. I have some good news if you have not yet completed your census: the original July 31, 2020 deadline has been extended three months to give you even more time to fill it out and get counted!

Friday, May 15

Thursday, May 14

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This Week in Coronavirus in Fairfax County

Virginia surpasses 25,000 cases; Phase I being discussed while numbers of cases and deaths continue to rise.


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Now, For Something Completely Different

At the GW Community School, distancing doesn’t mean disconnecting.


Wednesday, May 13

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Front Line Medical Staff Get New Tennis Shoes

Local athletic shoe companies donate special shoes to medical staff Impacted by COVID-19.

New shoes for medical workers.

Tuesday, May 12

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Hunkered Down to Opening Up in Virginia

Northern Virginia leaders urge regional approach to reopening state.


Northern Virginia Reopening Should Occur When Metrics Met

Regional mayors and chairs send letter to Gov. Northam.


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Comfy Kitchen Amid COVID-19

A gloomy, dark space gets a light and bright update.


Saturday, May 9

Friday, May 8

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This Week in Coronavirus in Mount Vernon

Phase I would ease some limits on business and faith communities, and would transition the stay at home directive to a “safer at home” guideline, especially for those in vulnerable populations.


Thursday, May 7

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Mount Vernon Farmers Market To Open in May

It could pave the way for more as the county could gradually reopen.

Some Farmers Markets to open in May

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Creek Plan in Hollin Hills Generates Push Back

Some residents say County plan is unnecessary and expensive.

Hollin Hills creeks

Opinion: Commentary: Now Is Not the Time To Put Off Vaccinations

Pediatricians report a 30-76 percent decrease in administering routine childhood immunizations.


Wednesday, May 6

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Reston, Mount Vernon and Burke Farmers Markets to Open in May

It could pave the way for more as county gradually reopens.


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NoVA Legislators Lasso Outdoor Tethering Law

New tethering restrictions go into effect July 1.


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Virtual Fitness Classes Offer Options

Online choices for those who want to get or stay in shape.


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‘Don't Forget About Us’ in Fairfax County

County supervisors hold public budget hearings.


Make Every Day Mom’s Day

Mother’s Day can be every day during quarantine.


Monday, May 4

Opinion: Commentary: Hazard Pay in Honor of Frontline Workers in Fairfax County

We are putting our lives on the line; Hazard pay honors our sacrifices.


Friday, May 1

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Loan Sharks in the Water

Lawmakers crack down on predatory lending, although reform won’t happen for eight months.

The LoanMax on Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria is open for business during the pandemic, and colorful signs in the windows announce in English and Spanish that the car-title lender remains open during a stay-at-home order — offering loans at 200 percent annual interest during a time when unemployment claims in Alexandria are skyrocketing. Those kinds of interest rates will be illegal under the Fairness in Lending Act, which Gov. Ralph Northam signed last week after lawmakers signed off on some last-minute changes. But the ban on such high-interest lending won’t take effect until New Years Day 2021, which means high-interest lenders have eight months to engage in an unprecedented lending spree during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

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Opinion: Commentary: What Happened in Richmond During Reconvene

Legislating in a pandemic … it’s complicated.