City of Alexandria Provides COVID-19 Updates; Keep Children Vaccinated; National Nurses Week; Police Telework; Virtual Events & Activities
For Immediate Release: May 10, 2020
The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) strongly urge everyone to follow state orders to STAY HOME except for essential trips such as food purchases and medical care. If you must leave your home, keep 6 feet apart from others when in public, and wear a cloth face covering if you cannot maintain physical distance. Your neighbors and loved ones are counting on you to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Keep Children Vaccinated
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country could begin experiencing outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases because children are not getting the necessary immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. A newly released study found vaccinations of children and vaccine orders dropped in late March, about a week after a national emergency was declared. Vaccinations and well-child doctor visits are essential to avoid outbreaks and to keep children protected.
Celebrating National Nurses Week
Nurses are often unsung heroes of our healthcare system, yet they are fundamental to promoting health, alleviating suffering and preventing disease. Alexandria’s first responders recently visited Inova Alexandria Hospital with a siren salute for nurses and other healthcare providers and support staff who are going above and beyond to care for our community during this crisis. Add your thanks to Inova staff on behalf of all healthcare workers in Alexandria. Nurses work throughout Alexandria, including City departments, the Alexandria Health Department, the Alexandria City Public Schools, outpatients doctors’ offices and health centers, long-term care facilities, home health agencies and dialysis centers. Their devotion to healing and care for others places them among our heroes during this crisis.
Telework Helped Police Enhance Patrol and Lower Risk in April
This is the second in a series of stories this week about ways the City has used innovative telework solutions to help protect employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the closure of public schools on March 16 and the first state physical distancing order on March 23, many police officers in specialty units such as school resource, traffic safety and community relations were not able to engage in their normal assignments. The Police Department also experienced a 42% reduction in calls for service due to community compliance with physical distancing guidance and the March 30 statewide stay-at-home order. At some points in April, each patrol officer averaged only a single call for service during their entire shifts. As a result of COVID-19 impacts, there were substantially fewer officers on vacation, out sick, on military duty, on restricted duty due to injury, in training, or on special assignments. All these factors combined to provide the Police Department with a unique opportunity to implement telework.
During the month of April, officers from specialty units were merged with patrol divisions to increase the roster from which routine patrol shifts could be staffed. This allowed for some officers at a time to rotate through one-week telework periods, while the department still met required staffing levels on the street. This helped preserve PPE supplies, which were limited at the time; avoided risk to officers and their vehicles from potential exposure to the virus; and modeled the stay-at-home guidance everyone in the community was expected to follow.
During telework periods, officers received reports of past offenses by telephone; followed up on past offenses by telephone and email; and completed online training. Calls for service that did not require in-person response could be dispatched to home-based officers, which resulted in more availability of patrol officers to respond to higher-priority calls. Telework periods also provided a less stressful time for officers and their families and a rare respite for front-line first responders. The telework model helped provide physical distance between officers to avoid the spread of infection and preserve staffing levels in the event of a wider outbreak.
Once PPE inventories stabilized, physical distancing guidelines in offices (such as spacing out occupied workstations and desks) were implemented; physical distancing approaches during patrol contacts were refined; demands on patrol and assignment needs were reviewed; officers from specialty units were reassigned to Police Headquarters in May; and the patrol divisions returned to their usual roster size without telework. As warmer weather draws more members of the public to crowded areas, this also keeps more officers available for immediate dispatch if needed.
Virtual City Events and Activities this Week
Many City meetings, events and activities can now be attended virtually. This week’s activities include live concerts, fitness classes and workshops. The City Calendar has a complete list of virtual opportunities, as well as cancellations.
51 New COVID-19 Cases and No Fatalities Added in Alexandria
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 1,193, including 30 fatalities. Detailed data is available through the links at alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus. It is critical for all community members, even those who don't have a diagnosed illness, to stay home except for essential trips such as brief visits to the pharmacy, doctor, or grocery store.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/115344.