COVID-19: Protect Yourself & Others

Page updated on Jun 2, 2020 at 5:44 PM

Protect Yourself and Those Around You

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. However, everyday preventive actions help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19 as well as influenza and the common cold, including:

  • Wash your hands often by rubbing them together with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Maintain six feet of personal space whenever possible.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Cloth Face Coverings and Masks

  • Effective May 29 and until further notice, Executive Order 63 requires face coverings in indoor public settings. The order lists a variety of conditions and exceptions, and frequently asked questions are available. Violation of the order is a Class 1 misdemeanor. For questions or concerns about the order, call 877-ASK-VDH3.
  • On April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance encouraging everyone to wear cloth face coverings when it is difficult to maintain physical distance in public. Wearing a cloth face covering is only effective when used in conjunction with frequent hand washing and physical distancing, which includes staying at least six feet away from other people. It's also important to follow state orders to stay at home unless it's essential to go out.
  • The CDC notes that purchased or homemade face coverings will not prevent individuals from catching the COVID-19 virus, but will help prevent people who have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
  • It is important to recognize that a face covering is not a surgical mask or N95 respirator. AHD urges the general public not to use surgical masks or N95 respirators, since these are crucial limited supplies needed for healthcare workers and first responders.
  • View tips on how to use face coverings correctly and watch these videos from the Alexandria Health Department to learn how to make and use cloth face coverings correctly, and how to use surgical masks correctly.

Presymptomatic Transmission

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released  new evidence on April 1, based on a study in Singapore, that COVID-19 can be transmitted up to 48 hours before a positive case shows symptoms. This research underscores that the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is through vigilant physical distancing, including staying at home except for essential trips.
  • In response to this new evidence, AHD will be shifting its protocol for identifying close contacts of positive cases, to include the 48 hours before the case became symptomatic. Since the U.S. healthcare infrastructure does not currently have the capacity for mass-scale testing, AHD and the City strongly urge all residents to take necessary preventive measures: staying six feet away from people outside of your household members, washing hands frequently, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

Stay Home and Practice Physical Distancing

  • Governor Northam's Forward Virginia blueprint includes gradually relaxing restrictions over the course of several phases of reopening. View a summary of differences between Phase Zero and Phase One.

  • Effective May 29 and until further notice, Executive Order 63 requires face coverings in indoor public settings. The order lists a variety of conditions and exceptions, and frequently asked questions are available. Violation of the order is a Class 1 misdemeanor. For questions or concerns about the order, call 877-ASK-VDH3.
  • Virginia is in Phase One of the Forward Virginia blueprint. Executive Order 61 provides for certain restrictions from May 29 through June 10:
    • Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited. This does not include gatherings of members of a family who live together; or that involve the provision of health care or medical services; access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government. Individuals may attend religious services with more than 10 people if they are limited to no more than 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the room; individuals are at least 6 feet apart when seated, and other conditions in the order are met.
    • Food service establishments may continue carryout and delivery service and add outdoor dining service with occupancy not to exceed 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy. No more than 10 patrons may be seated as a party; tables must be at least 6 feet apart; no self-serve food items may be served; bar seats, indoor dining, and congregating areas must remain closed; employees in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings; and frequently contacted surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected every 60 minutes or between patrons.
    • Farmers' markets may permit on-site shopping in compliance with City regulations. They must also use physical distancing guidelines; hand sanitizing or washing stations; and regular cleaning and disinfection. Employees and vendors in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings.
    • Non-essential businesses may operate with with occupancy not to exceed 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy and face coverings for all employees in customer-facing areas.
    • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, sports facilities, and exercise facilities may reopen for outdoor activities only. Customers must remain at least 10 feet apart during all activities. Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features must be closed. Outdoor swimming pools may be open for lap swimming only and must be limited to one person per lane. Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings. Group outdoor activities may not have more than 10 participants at a time.
    • Beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage centers, tanning salons, and tattoo shops may operate with up to 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of
      occupancy, at least 6 feet of physical distancing between work stations, and only one appointment per service provider at a time. Employees and customers must wear face coverings, including during service. Frequently-contacted surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected every 60 minutes or between customers.
    • Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, bowling alleys, arts and craft facilities, escape rooms, social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement must remain closed.
  • The Alexandria Health Department encourages businesses and customers to use online or phone payments (rather than in-person credit card or cash payments) to avoid shared surfaces. Customers who pay in person should insert their own cards into readers when possible, and avoid sharing pens. Businesses should sanitize touch screens after each customer.
  • On March 17, Governor Northam recommended that individuals with chronic health conditions or age 65 or older should self-quarantine, because they are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. He encouraged neighbors and friends to stay in touch and regularly check in with high-risk individuals.
  • Individuals should modify regular activities in public by practicing physical distancing by maintaining six feet of personal space whenever possible, and frequently wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. Individuals should also utilize alternative greetings to handshakes, such as elbow bumps or bows.
  • City employees are working remotely to the extent feasible. The City encourages all employers to maximize telework opportunities for employees whenever possible, both to increase physical distancing and to help reduce the impact of school closures.
  • On March 18, the Virginia Department of Social Services issued   guidance that classroom childcare centers should limit capacity to 10 individuals per room to include staff. Parents looking for child care that remains open should call 866-KIDS-TLC.  
  • The CDC has issued detailed guidance for  travelers;   businesses and employers;   schools and childcare; and  community and faith-based organizations
  • Learn how you can protect your  home and  business. View  one-page overviews of steps to take for homes, schools, businesses and commercial establishments.
  • Physical distancing doesn't mean being anti-social. Learn how to avoid  stigma and discrimination related to COVID-19.

Grocery Stores and Farmers Markets

While there is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through food or food from certain countries, any food can be a surface for the transmission of viruses if safe food handling practices are not followed.

To permit access to food while employing physical distancing and hygiene best practices, merchants and customers at grocery stores and farmers markets should follow these guidelines in addition to the ones directly above:

  • Merchants should use gloves properly and in addition to washing or sanitizing. Change gloves frequently.
  • Everyone should maintain personal space of six feet whenever possible.
  • Merchants should discontinue sampling of cut or open foods.
  • Everyone should use non-cash forms of payment when possible. Wash or sanitize hands immediately after handling cash or payment devices.
  • Before preparing or eating, customers should wash all fruits and vegetables in accordance with  FDA guidance for cleaning produce.

As of May 29, the following grocery stores have notified the City of special hours for vulnerable customers. These hours are subject to change; please call the phone numbers listed to confirm. Vulnerable customers should avoid shopping in person at all and make use of delivery services or volunteers when possible. If in-person shopping is necessary, customers and staff should stay six feet apart from each other, wash hands frequently, and disinfect shared surfaces like shopping cart handles.

  • Aldi (425 E. Monroe Ave., 855.955.2534): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. reserved for seniors, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns.
  • Aldi (4580 Duke St., 855.955.2534): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. reserved for seniors, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns. 
  • Aldi (4602 Kenmore Ave., 855.955.2534): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. reserved for seniors, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns. 
  • Balducci's (600 Franklin St., 703.549.6611): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 9 a.m. reserved for vulnerable customers.
  • The Fresh Market (3680 King St., 703.824.5205): Daily from 8 to 9 a.m. reserved for seniors.
  • Giant Food (3131 Duke St., 703.461.6198): Daily from 6 to 7 a.m. reserved for seniors.
  • Giant Food (621 E. Glebe Rd., 703.518.4797): Daily from 6 to 7 a.m. reserved for seniors.  
  • Harris Teeter (735 N. St. Asaph St., 703.419.3837): Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 a.m. reserved for seniors.
  • Harris Teeter (4513 Duke St., 703.461.7082): Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 a.m. reserved for seniors.
  • LA Mart (5730 Edsall Rd., 703.717.9722): Daily from 8 to 9 a.m. reserved for vulnerable customers.
  • Safeway (3526 King St., 571.312.0029): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 a.m. reserved for seniors, expectant mothers, and immunocompromised customers.
  • Safeway (500 S. Royal St., 703.836.0380): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 a.m. reserved for seniors, expectant mothers, and immunocompromised customers.
  • Safeway (299 S. Van Dorn St., 703.751.4827): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 a.m. reserved for seniors, expectant mothers, and immunocompromised customers.
  • Target (3101 Richmond Hwy., 703.706.3840): Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8 to 9 a.m. reserved for vulnerable customers.
  • Trader Joe’s (612 N. St. Asaph St., 703.548.0611): Daily from 8 to 9 a.m. reserved for seniors and customers with disabilities.
  • Whole Foods Market (1700 Duke St., 703.706.0891): Daily from 7 to 8 a.m. reserved for seniors.

Prepare for Possible Quarantine or Isolation

Be Ready, Alexandria! for a Pandemic Respiratory Illness  |    Español  |   አማርኛ  |    عربى

During a local COVID-19 outbreak, stores may run out of some supplies, and residents may be asked not to leave their homes for an extended period. Residents should plan and prepare by doing the following: 

  • Have on hand enough food, household and pet supplies to last for two weeks. 
  • Gather enough medical supplies to last for one month, especially prescriptions and other medicines you may need.
  • Identify a list of people who can help you or will need to be notified in the event of an emergency,  including family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department and other community resources. 
  • Identify people who may need help, like neighbors, friends, family and co-workers who are older adults, have limited resources, have special needs, don’t understand English well or are new to the area.  
  • Talk to your employer about changes at work, how family and sick leave will be handled and if there are plans to work from home or elsewhere.  
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