City of Alexandria Urges Focus on Social Distancing and Support for Vulnerable Community Members During COVID-19 Pandemic

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City of Alexandria Urges Focus on Social Distancing and Support for Vulnerable Community Members During COVID-19 Pandemic

­­For Immediate Release: March 16, 2020

The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) recommends that all community members change their daily behavior to reduce risk from COVID-19, particularly to protect our most vulnerable populations. The City of Alexandria has already taken proactive measures to further reduce risk and encourages all organizations and individuals to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Enhanced Recommendations for Social Distancing
On March 16, President Trump issued a recommendation calling on Americans to follow the direction of state and local authorities. The White House recommendation also includes staying home when sick; working from home whenever possible; avoiding social gatherings of more than 10 people; avoiding discretionary travel and shopping trips; and avoiding eating or drinking in restaurants, bars and public food courts. The recommendation encourages the use of drive-through, pickup or delivery options when patronizing local businesses.

Individuals should modify regular activities in public by maintaining six feet of personal space whenever possible, washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, and using alternative greetings to handshakes, such as elbow bumps or bows. 

AHD recommends canceling or postponing in-person gatherings of 50 or more people, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) interim guidance on March 15. This guidance includes large events and gatherings such as conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. This recommendation does not apply to the day-to-day operation of businesses. AHD has issued  guidance for determining whether to cancel gatherings of fewer than 50 people and how to modify them.

The CDC has issued detailed guidance for travelersbusinesses and employersschools 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. Social distancing doesn't mean being anti-social. Learn how to avoid stigma and discrimination related to COVID-19.  

Protecting Vulnerable Residents
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 infection. AHD has been working with local long-term care facilities on COVID-19 detection and response in this vulnerable population since mid-January 2020. All such facilities have received multiple communications from AHD on how to best protect their residents, including calls, emails, and visits from Medical Reserve Corps volunteers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued guidelines restricting all visitors and non-essential health care personnel and requiring all facilities to screen employees for symptoms of respiratory illness. AHD urges the public to consider alternatives for staying in contact with their loved ones. As of March 16, AHD recommends that those with higher risk of COVID-19 infection complications stay home away from others when possible. To reduce the negative effects of social isolation, AHD asks all Alexandrians to stay connected with one another through safe alternatives (e.g. phone calls, online communication, writing letters).

Landlords Asked to Help Tenants
On March 16, Mayor Wilson sent a letter to all Alexandria landlords of multifamily rental properties, asking them to consider what they can do now to ease the burden for tenants who will have difficulty paying rent because of illness or financial hardship related to ongoing COVID-19 related business disruptions and closures.

Resources for Low-Income Residents
The City and its partners are working together to provide information and resources to offer support, security and stability for families in need due to the impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus response. The Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) has a list of available resources. Those in need should contact the DCHS Customer Relations Team at 703.746.5700 for assistance connecting residents to the appropriate resources.

Additional Grocery Store Restocking
Many grocery stores in the region are having trouble keeping up with demand for products. The City is relaxing regulations to allow grocery stores to receive extra deliveries of stock.  

City Government Operations
City facilities are open normal hours, but many City events and activities have been canceled or postponed. A list of cancellations is available on and will be updated frequently. The Alexandria Library, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Circuit Court, General District Court, Office of Historic Alexandria, Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities, and Sheriff's Office have detailed information about service and program changes.

City employees are working remotely to the extent feasible while maintaining core services. The City encourages all employers to maximize telework opportunities for employees whenever possible, both to increase social distancing and to help reduce the impact of school closures.

If You Have Symptoms of COVID-19
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are coughing, fever of over 100.4 F, and shortness of breath. If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, call your primary care physician to ask whether you should come for an exam or test before visiting in person. Most people who get COVID-19 recover on their own at home and do not need testing or treatment. Anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness should isolate themselves; avoid contact with other people; wash their hands frequently; and disinfect surfaces regularly.

Protect Yourself and Others, Especially Vulnerable Community Members

  • Wash Your Hands. Rub hands together with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Use Hand Sanitizer. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol as you would wash your hands, rubbing them together for 20 seconds. 

  • Don’t Touch Your Face. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Stay Home. If you are feeling sick, stay home. If you are well, avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Use Your Elbow. 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.

  • Disinfect Surfaces. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

  • Manage Stress. The CDC recommends taking breaks from exposure to the news; take deep breaths or meditate; try to eat healthy; get sleep or rest; make time to do activities you enjoy; and connect with others to share your feelings. 

For more information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and how you can help protect yourself and those around you, visit For questions about COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Information Line at 703.746.4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Virginia residents can also call the Virginia Department of Health public information line, 877-ASK-VDH3, for questions about the novel coronavirus situation. If you have chest pain or shortness of breath, call or text 911.

For inquiries from the news media only, contact Craig Fifer, Director of Communications and Public Information, at or 703.746.3965.

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This news release is available at