City of Alexandria Provides COVID-19 Updates: Support for Businesses; Guidance for Childcare; Avoiding Scams
For Immediate Release: March 19, 2020
As of March 19, 2020, public health officials have noted evidence of community transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus in parts of Northern Virginia. There have been no new positive cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria since the four cases previously announced. The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) strongly urges all community members to change their daily behavior now to reduce risk from COVID-19, particularly to protect our most vulnerable populations.
Support for Local Businesses and Food Access
Effective March 19 until further notice, the City has suspended enforcement of certain regulations and special use permit conditions that limit hours of operation, deliveries, off-premises alcohol sales, and outdoor sales and dining. The suspended enforcement is intended to support local businesses and access to food. The order from the Governor and the State Health Commissioner issued on March 17, which prohibits restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters from operating with more than 10 customers present, remains in effect. Violation of the order is a criminal offense. Visit Alexandria has a list of local restaurants and shops with options available, including carryout, delivery, gift cards, and virtual tours.
Financial Relief for Small Businesses
The Small Business Administration (SBA) will work directly with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses for help with overcoming the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Alexandria businesses can begin applying for loans now.
Shopping Hours to Reduce COVID-19 Complication Risks
Some Alexandria grocery stores have started hosting separate shopping hours for customers at higher risk for COVID-19 infection complications. AHD applauds local businesses for implementing these types of measures. All residents should continue practicing social distancing while in public and avoid unnecessary trips. AHD's Environmental Health staff will be conducting outreach to grocery stores with these types of policies to support proper sanitization efforts. Grocery stores or restaurants who are interested in beginning similar measures can reach out for technical assistance and guidance at 703.746.4910.
AHD Service Changes Under Continuity of Operations
As COVID-19 response efforts have been in effect, AHD services have changed to refocus staff on contact investigation and surveillance. Reduced services include: tuberculosis screening, immunization, sexual and reproductive health, and the babycare home visitation program. AHD has maintained service levels at the Teen Wellness Center in T.C. Williams High School, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and vital records. These levels of service are subject to change based on COVID-19 response.
Guidance for Childcare
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.
King Street Trolley Encouraging Social Distancing
The King Street Trolley has started running mostly non-trolley DASH buses. Due to their single door for boarding, smaller passenger compartments, and high number of passengers per trip, trolleys require passengers to sit closer together than they would on a typical transit bus. Larger buses will provide more opportunity for social distancing.
Help Requested for Housing and Human Services
Mayor Wilson joined the mayors and chairs of Northern Virginia localities in a letter to Governor Northam urging him to use his emergency powers to suspend foreclosures and evictions, waive late fees and penalties for rent, and reduce restrictions on human services programs.
Avoiding Scams and Misinformation
Phone and email scams are on the rise. You may receive fake phone calls or emails that will try to trick you into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes, or malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites. Exercise caution with any email that includes a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19. Obtain information directly from official sources such as alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus, vdh.virginia.gov, and cdc.gov.
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 alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus. 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 email@example.com or 703.746.3965.
# # #
This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/114280.