City of Alexandria Provides COVID-19 Updates; Phase One Reopening Delayed for NoVA; Updated Guidance for Funerals; Answering 911 and 311 Calls at Home
For Immediate Release: May 12, 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.
Phase One Reopening Delayed for Northern Virginia
Today, Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order Sixty-Two, delaying Northern Virginia’s transition to Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” reopening plan. This means the existing stay-at-home order and restrictions on certain business operations for Phase Zero will remain in effect in Northern Virginia until at least May 29, while the rest of the state is expected to move to Phase One on May 15. This allows Northern Virginia localities more time to achieve the health milestones required to move to Phase One. The order applies to the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William; and the towns in those counties.
CDC Updates Funeral Guidance for Individuals and Families
Grieving the loss of a loved one, along with the fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic, can be overwhelming. It may be difficult for people to make decisions about how to safely grieve and honor their loved one. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided updated guidance for individuals and families working with funeral directors, community and religious leaders, and others to plan and hold funeral services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance also includes recommendations for adapting funeral-related traditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Answering 911 and 311 Calls at Home
This is the fourth 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.
As the “first of the first responders,” public safety telecommunicators in the City’s Department of Emergency and Customer Communications (DECC) dispatch service calls for police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and staff from many other departments. Department staff also handle requests for customer services through Alex311. Early in the pandemic crisis, DECC leadership recognized the critical importance of providing for continuity of operations in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. Staff were divided into separate groups to maintain physical distance and prevent the possibility for infection to spread across all staff. Each group worked at the City’s primary Emergency Communications Center, a backup center, or in temporary isolation at a hotel or office.
Beginning March 6, another group of employees tested the ability to answer non-emergency calls remotely. After a successful one-month pilot, Alexandria became the first city in the United States to enable some staff to answer 911 calls from home. Rather than relying on employees’ home phone or internet connections, this remote setup uses wireless hotspots connected to a dedicated national public safety network called FirstNet. Regardless of the location, staff comply with the same strict confidentiality and quality assurance standards, and have access to the same computer-aided dispatch system that helps route public safety resources.
16 New COVID-19 Cases and No New Fatalities Added in Alexandria
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 1,240, 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/115407.