COVID-19: Protect Yourself & Others

Page updated on Nov 22, 2021 at 12:26 PM

Protect Yourself and Those Around You

Every Alexandrian can take precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19: choose outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings, stay home and get tested when symptomatic, wear a mask over your nose and mouth in public indoor settings, wash your hands, and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.


Mitigation Updates

Effective July 30, the City of Alexandra requires wearing masks and maintaining physical distance in City facilities:

  • All visitors and employees in City facilities are required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
  • Everyone who has not been fully vaccinated is strongly encouraged to find an appointment at vaccines.gov, and should continue to wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others while inside City buildings.
  • This new guidance is indicated with signs at facility entrances.
  • Meeting rooms, hallways and elevators will remain set up with safety measures in place to provide the option to maintain physical distance. Virtual options may be available for meetings as indicated at  alexandriava.gov/Calendar. Plexiglass partitions will remain in place until it is determined they are no longer needed.
  • The federal government continues to require that masks are worn when using  public transportation, including on buses, trains, and airplanes.  

Wear It Well

Mask EncouragementThe City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department urge Alexandria residents, businesses and visitors to “Wear It Well” by wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, whether vaccinated or not. This follows updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that everyone should wear masks in indoor public settings in communities of substantial or high transmission.

Wearing a mask protects yourself, your family and your community from the current surge of the more contagious COVID-19 delta variant. In addition to wearing a mask in indoor public places, “Wear It Well” by ensuring the mask fits snugly over the nose and chin without gaps. Masks with multiple layers of fabric provide greater protection against transmission.

The “Wear It Well” message will be visible in the community in the form of multilingual banners and posters displayed in City facilities and businesses, as well as pop-up events taking place throughout Alexandria to ensure residents, visitors and businesses are aware of the CDC’s recommendation. ‘Masks Recommended’ signs and flyers are available to all organizations, businesses, residences to download and print. Printed versions can also be provided upon request.


      Wear A Mask Flyer       Masks Recommended Sign     Mask Guidance Thumbnail - EngSpa


    Guidance for Gatherings

    While Alexandria is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, you are at higher risk of being exposed or getting sick. If you are hosting an event or gathering, follow these tips to reduce the risk of transmission.

    • Outdoor events are preferable to indoors.
    • If all attendees are over 5, consider asking them to be vaccinated prior to the event, as this is the safest way to prevent people from unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
    • Remind attendees that they should not come if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
    • Provide hand sanitizer by all food serving stations, and strategically placed throughout the event site.
    • Avoid shared serving utensils and utilize individualized prepared portions when possible.
    • If your outdoor gathering will be crowded, or if you will be in close contact with people not fully vaccinated, consider asking all attendees to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
    • Everyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask if they are mingling indoors.
    • Hold your event in a space that allows plenty of room between guests. Distance is effective at decreasing transmission.
    • If there will be meals served at your social gathering, try to sit at least 6 feet apart from people that are not fully vaccinated. If there will be multiple families attending, consider asking attendees to sit at tables with their household members. Since people may be eating in close contact with a mask off, this will decreases exposure to others outside of your home.
    • If people from different households will be carpooling to the gathering, wear masks and roll the windows down while inside the vehicle.

    If there is a COVID-19 exposure at your gathering, don’t panic. Even if you’ve followed all the best practices and recommendations, people can still get sick. Anyone who was within six feet of someone ill for 15 minutes or more—regardless of masking or vaccination status—is a close contact. If exposed to COVID-19 as a close contact, you should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for the 14 days after last exposure, and follow the guidance below:
    • For fully vaccinated people: Get tested 5-7 days after being exposed to COVID-19, and continue wearing a mask in public indoor settings.
    • For individuals not fully vaccinated: Get tested as soon as possible, as well as 5-7 days after being exposed. Stay at home for the 14 days after you were last exposed to COVID-19.
    • For all individuals: Isolate at home and get tested for COVID-19 if you develop symptoms.

    For any questions or concerns about COVID-19 safety, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988. Find more tips and guidance on safe gatherings.


      Guidance for Travel

      It is important to practice travel safety, especially during the holidays, when visiting at-risk loved ones in other areas of the U.S. is common. Safe travel is easy, here is some guidance from the CDC, explained:

      • If you are not fully vaccinated, or you would be traveling with someone who is not fully vaccinated, delay travel until you are all fully vaccinated and protected. If you must travel while not fully vaccinated, follow the CDC's testing recommendations to protect yourself and others. That means getting a viral test (PCR or Rapid Antigen test, NOT an antibody test) 1-3 before traveling and another viral test 3-5 days after traveling. Testing is free and easy to access in Alexandria!

      • If you are sick, stay home; mild symptoms could still be COVID-19, and even 'just the flu' is dangerous for at-risk people like older loved ones. Protect those close to you and don't travel until you have recovered.

      • Do not travel when you have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to quarantine, when you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or when you have tested positive for COVID-19 (even if you don't have symptoms).

      • If you have recently recovered from COVID-19 and have met criteria to end isolation, you can travel safely without being infectious to others. People can continue to test positive for up to 90 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis but are not infectious during that time. For this reason, travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days do not need to get tested before or after travel and can visit those they care about without worrying about giving them COVID-19.

      • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is still recommended in places with substantial or high community spread like Alexandria, and is also still required by federal law in travel hubs and enclosed areas of transportation. That means you must wear a mask in places like train cars, planes, buses/trolleys, airports, and metro stations.

      • Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation before traveling. State, local, and territorial governments may have travel or other COVID-19 safety restrictions in place that are different from the rules in your area. Make sure you understand and can follow the rules where you are traveling, including mask wearing, proof of vaccination, testing, or quarantine requirements.

      • If you are flying you should check what testing, vaccination, or other documents the airline currently requires. If you are taking a train (Amtrak), be sure to complete your pre-trip health check within 24 hours of your departure.

      For more details, or if you want the most up-to-date info directly from the CDC, go to their comprehensive travel page.


      COVID-19 Handbook for Schools

      The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) has updated its Interim COVID-19 “Handbook for Alexandria K-12 School Administrators,” which was first developed in 2020. AHD’s guidance for the 2021-2022 school year is a compilation of the feedback and technical assistance that has been provided to schools throughout the spring and summer in anticipation of a return to in-person classes. The handbook draws heavily on existing resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). This resource is intended to serve as a quick reference guide for K-12 school administrators to use as they refine safety policies and practices. The document covers topics including how to report COVID-19 cases to AHD and notify families of an exposure at school, questions to consider when developing COVID-19 policies, what to do when a COVID-19 case is identified at your school, recommended prevention measures schools should implement, and guidance on making extracurricular activities and mealtimes as safe as possible.


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        Prepare for Possible Quarantine or Isolation

        If you or someone in your household has COVID-19, or has been a close contact, you may be  asked not to leave your home for an extended period. Learn more about when it’s safe to be around others. 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.  

        Caring for Loved Ones with COVID-19

        If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 either at your home or theirs, follow this guidance to avoid spreading the illness further.


        Avoid Scams and Misinformation

        • Remain vigilant for scams related to COVID-19. You may receive fake phone calls or emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites, to try to trick you into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.

        • The Alexandria Health Department will not call and ask for financial or sensitive information such as bank accounts or your social security number. Learn more about what happens during a case investigation or contact tracing call from the health department. 

        • Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.

        • Do not reveal personal or sensitive information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.

        • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails from unofficial sources, and be wary of email attachments.

        • Learn how to avoid social engineering and phishing attacks.

        • Use trusted sources, such as government websites ending in .GOV like coronavirus.gov (CDC), vdh.virginia.gov, and alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus.

        • Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.

        • Businesses and organizations should review information about risk management 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:

        • 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.
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