I hope this finds you as comfortable and secure as possible during these difficult times. It is heartening for me how much people are stepping up and trying to help those in need. If you have not done so yet, I urge you to sign up for the Arlington County COVID-19 Updates on our website. It is revised every evening. The situation is changing rapidly and it is important for all of us to stay informed. I also urge everyone to sign up for Arlington Alert. This is one of our best systems in Arlington for getting critical and time-sensitive information out to the community.
- The County Board is working with the Arlington Public Schools (APS) and Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) to get food to the ever-increasing number of people who need it.
- We have figured out a way to keep Farmers Markets operating under the Governor’s order!
- We have figured out how to have our Emergency Call Center (ECC) operators work remotely, which is huge. And we are doubling the ECC’s capacity.
- Groups congregating in our parks continue to be an issue and our Police are enforcing safe distancing and activities. While our park equipment should not be used, people are encouraged to continue to take walks on our trails and enjoy the outside (maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance).
- COVID-19 testing also continues to be an issue in Arlington as it is nationally. Virginia Hospital Center has received more kits and gotten more efficient about doing the sampling at their drive-through facility on Quincy Street. The fact remains, however, that a limited number of kits continue to be an issue and it will be that way for some time.
Continuing our Board Work
As we work our way through this pandemic, we need to make sure that usual government continues as much as possible to keep us resilient for a strong recovery. We are enabling many to participate in our meetings remotely and those of us physically present maintain distance between us. On Saturday, the Board approved a plan to redevelop three sites in Crystal City. They are not contiguous and this was an unusual approach. By grouping the sites into one plan, we were able to take a more holistic approach to development in Crystal City and provide benefits to our community more quickly and efficiently. Those improvements include park space, a new library facility (which has long been needed there), better street connections and affordable housing. There was largely unanimity among staff, residents, commissions and the Board that this was a good step.
On Tuesday, we approved redevelopment of the Key Bridge Marriott hotel site. This, too, had support from all stakeholders. The immediate neighbors brought concerns about the state of National Park Service (NPS) land adjacent, including some old telephone poles that block the sidewalk. Addressing those issues will require cooperation from many organizations, including the NPS, Verizon and Dominion Power. While not actually on the site or part of our vote, the issue has surfaced and we will follow up with all the stakeholders. It will not be a quick or easy process, but it has started.
As we look ahead to some difficult weeks, one of the best ways to cope both personally and as a community with this disaster is to find ways to help and support each other. I encourage everyone to sign up for any local neighborhood efforts or to support our long-standing, and now more crucial than ever, non-profits. As you know, my campaign team has been repurposed. Evan Burfield is leading an excellent effort, Arlington Community Corps (ACC), which is leveraging the connections of many individuals to better coordinate efforts and help fill in the gaps between what volunteers are doing and what Arlington County government is doing. Our future depends on everyone in Arlington doing what they can, whether that is keeping in touch with a neighbor or just staying quarantined at home. We need to stay emotionally close while we physically distance. (If you want to join ACC, please click on the above ACC link, find your neighborhood, click on that and then click on “Contact Organizer.”)
Finally, to repeat our health professionals’ crucial advice regarding COVID-19: please wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds each time, especially when entering a building or returning home and after handling mail or other materials coming into your home; wipe down surfaces with disinfectant, especially door handles; sleep well and eat well to maintain a healthy autoimmune system. Enjoy walks outside.
Please support our local businesses and restaurants to the extent you can with social distancing in mind. Here’s a list of Arlington restaurants that are open for take-out and/or delivery.
As always, I hope this has been helpful and welcome thoughts, comments, or questions.