City of Alexandria Provides COVID-19 Updates; New CDC Guidance on Face Coverings; Assistance from a Distance; Metro Service Reductions
For Immediate Release: April 3, 2020
The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) strongly urge everyone to STAY HOME except for essential trips such as food purchases and medical care, and keep six feet apart from others when in public. Your neighbors and loved ones are counting on you to stop the spread of COVID-19.
CDC Recommends that Everyone Wear Cloth Face Coverings -- Not Masks -- in Public
On April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance encouraging everyone to wear cloth face coverings while 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. 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.
To remove a face covering after use, remove it from behind (do not touch the front), wash the covering, and then wash your hands. Cloth face coverings should be washed daily and whenever they become soiled. AHD will issue further guidance soon on how to properly make, wear and sanitize the cloth face coverings.
Assistance from a Distance Flyer Now Available in Four Languages
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is offering “Assistance from a Distance” as a way for Alexandrians to access DCHS services by phone, online, video and urgent appointments, as indicated. Learn how to access those services in English, Spanish, Arabic and Amharic. Share this resource with others, particularly those in communities where English is not the primary language spoken, vulnerable individuals, and those who may not have access to traditional media.
Metro Further Reduces Service Hours
Starting Monday, April 6, Metrorail will open on weekdays at 5 a.m. and at 8 a.m. on weekends, and will close every day at 9 p.m. Metrobus service also will end earlier, with the last trips departing at or before 11 p.m. Buses that enter service at or before 11 p.m. will continue to the end of the route before going out of service. Riders are still being asked to limit use of Metro service to essential trips only for the safety of employees and the public. If you are feeling sick, do not use Metro or any other form of public transportation. Instead, call your doctor before leaving your home to discuss appropriate transportation.
10 New COVID-19 Cases in Alexandria, Bringing the Total to 77
On April 3, the Alexandria Health Department confirmed 10 additional cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, bringing the total to 77. AHD is identifying and contacting individuals who came in close contact with the confirmed cases. The close contacts will be asked to self-quarantine and actively monitor for fever and respiratory symptoms. If they start experiencing symptoms, they will immediately undergo testing. As a result of the AHD’s case investigations and expanded testing through private providers, the number of positive cases is expected to continue to increase.
Questions about COVID-19? Call the Hotline
In addition to the recently posted Frequently Asked Questions, residents can call Alexandria's COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988, which is staffed on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and includes access to language interpretation. This hotline is not a substitute for seeking medical care when ill; callers cannot be diagnosed over the phone.
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. Use the CDC's Coronavirus Self-Checker to review your symptoms. If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, call your healthcare provider 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.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and believe you've been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Alexandria Health Department does not provide COVID-19 diagnosis or testing. If you need a letter about your health status, contact your healthcare provider. If AHD has contacted you directly for active monitoring or quarantine, AHD can provide a letter for your employer clearing you to return to work once that is complete.
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.
To receive text message alerts from the City related to COVID-19, text ALEXCOVID19 to 888777. 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 Hotline 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.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/114551.