Will FCPS maintain three feet of distancing in the fall? - Burke house fire caused by improper disposal of hot charcoal
Vaccination Q&A with Fairfax County health officials - Lake Accotink dredging alternatives to be presented in July
Welcome to Braddock Buzz, where we hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day. A quick programming note: There will be no newsletter next week, as we’ll be on a family getaway in Charlottesville. We’ll be back in your inboxes on Monday, May 24. In the meantime, keep the news and tips coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Health departments launch PR campaign as vaccination pace slows
Q&A with Fairfax County health officials
Northern Virginia health departments are launching a coordinated media campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated for Covid-19 as the pace of first doses has slowed. Just over half of Fairfax County’s 1.1 million people have received a first dose and 35% are now fully vaccinated—which is well short of the 80% minimum threshold for herd immunity, according to experts cited in The New York Times.
The media campaign is aimed at those in the “movable middle,” the county explained in a news release—“people who might be somewhat hesitant, but are more open to the idea now since so many others have been successfully vaccinated.”
We reached out to the Fairfax County Health Department with several questions about the shifting nature of the vaccine effort. The first two answers are from Colin Brody, the department’s assistant public health emergency management coordinator, and the third answer is from Health Department spokesperson Tina Dale.
Q: Is the Health Department concerned there are a significant number of Fairfax County residents who are hesitant and/or unwilling to be vaccinated?
From the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, we anticipated the work shifting from mass vaccination events to addressing root causes of hesitancy in our community and how to reach these residents effectively. Now, we need to pivot and implement these new strategies to finish the important work of this vaccine campaign.
Q: What’s being done to reach the people who are hesitant?
The Health Department is now offering same day appointments and some walk-in opportunities to increase flexibility and options for those with limited scheduling availability. Also, mobile vaccination teams are expanding to offer more events in non-traditional vaccine administration locations to increase uptake in known areas of need and bring vaccine directly to the people. We are also working with community leaders to make sure that we have many voices encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated.
Q: Is there concern that vaccine doses will go to waste if appointments are unfilled? What’s being done to track and prevent this?
We do everything possible to avoid vaccine wastage and have a strategic plan for how to use every dose. If stored in proper cold chain, vials that have not been opened are good for 30 days when refrigerated. Once a vial is opened, it must be used within 6 hours. At the Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination sites, we know how many doses will be dispensed each day since vaccine is distributed by appointment. Currently, we experience very few no-shows at our sites.
In addition, vaccinators pull doses from a shared pool of vials throughout the day to ensure that as the end of day nears, they are pulling doses from vials already opened. Our agency’s senior pharmacist provides vaccine management protocols to minimize waste. These are the same vaccination protocols in place for other vaccines that the Health Department distributes widely to the general public every day.
Lake Accotink dredging alternatives to be presented in July: An engineering firm is assessing alternatives to a proposed pipeline from Lake Accotink to Wakefield Park that has drawn opposition from a key environmental group, the Friends of Accotink Creek. The pipeline is part of the Lake Accotink dredging project, which is set to begin in 2023 and will remove 350,000 cubic yards of sediment. Without the project, it is believed the lake would turn into a wetland area unusable for recreational activities like boating and fishing.
Fairfax County’s engineering contractor, Arcadis, is conducting an analysis into potential alternatives to the current plan, which is to pump the sediment via pipeline to a processing site in Wakefield Park, where the dredged material will be dried and hauled away by truck. Friends of Accotink Creek has come out against this plan because the construction of the pipeline and processing site would require trees to be cut down. The group’s opposition has most recently taken the form of “No Pipeline” signs along the Accotink Trail, as you can see in this photo:
“The problem with the initially proposed dewatering solution is twofold—the pipeline itself, plus the sacrifice of natural habitat for the actual dewatering site,” said Friends of Accotink Creek member Philip Latasa. “There is recent hope that more innovative solutions can be found.”
One such solution could be finding a processing site where the land has already been cleared, according to the county’s project manager, Charles Smith.
“In looking at pipeline and dewatering alternatives, we are working hard to utilize existing cleared or impacted sites if possible,” Smith explained, adding that the county wants to “avoid and minimize impacts to trees and other natural resources as well as important cultural and social resources to include trails, archeological sites, and areas of heavy park use.”
The assessment of alternatives will be released publicly in early July, ahead of a public meeting scheduled for July 15.
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FCPS to offer “limited” virtual courses this fall: FCPS is pushing for all students to return to five days of in-person learning this fall, but will offer a “limited” virtual program for those who apply and have a documented health need related to Covid-19. In a statement, the school system said FCPS teachers will oversee the virtual courses, as opposed to using the state-run “Virtual Virginia” program, which had been derided as expensive and lacking important services such as classes for advanced and special education students.
The county’s virtual program is not expected to be offered beyond the 2021-2022 school year.
Will the school system maintain three feet of distance? FCPS hasn’t announced whether it plans to maintain three feet of distance between students in the fall, as the CDC currently recommends—but spokesperson Helen Lloyd said the school system is “hopeful” that federal guidelines will be relaxed. “Our schools will be socially distancing to the greatest extent possible and we will continue to follow health and safety guidance to the greatest extent practicable,” Lloyd told The Washington Post.
As the Post reports, Arlington Public Schools and Alexandria City Public Schools have both announced they will not be able to follow the three-feet guideline this fall but will take other precautions, such as requiring masks.
Burke house fire caused by improper disposal of hot charcoal: Investigators have determined that a house fire on May 2 in Burke was accidental—caused by the improper disposal of hot charcoal briquets into a combustible container, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. No one was injured in the blaze, which occured at the 6300 block of Fair Oaks Lane. Damages are estimated at $350,000.
News in Brief
Fairfax County’s new police chief, Kevin Davis, took part in a community forum last week amid controversy over his hiring because of his involvement in two lawsuits in the 1990s, one where he was found to have used excessive force, as WUSA9 reports. “I’ve become one of the most progressive reform leaders in our country and I'm proud of that journey,” Davis said at the forum. “Was it always a perfect journey? No.”
The School Board has voted to align FCPS with Fairfax County’s policy of not sharing information with federal immigration officials unless there’s a court order, WTOP reports.
Also from WTOP: Gov. Ralph Northam plans to lift all capacity limits for businesses on June 15 if Virginia can maintain the current trend of declining Covid-19 cases.
On Saturday, cars backed up on Little River Turnpike and “wound through nearly a mile of side streets” on the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College as Republicans cast ballots to choose their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, ABC News reports.
Jennifer Mack column: What should sellers do to prepare their homes for listing?
When the market for homes is this hot, what should sellers do to prepare their home to be listed?
My answer to that question is always the same: It depends on the seller’s goals.
For me, a listing appointment is the opportunity to find out what a seller is looking to achieve and then advise them based on their answer. While many sellers simply want the most money possible for their home, others are looking for the quickest sale or the least amount of hassle.
Still, there are some actions that can be advantageous for any seller, regardless of their goals.
The homes currently selling for record-setting prices are the ones in top condition, priced correctly, and made available for showings so that the market is truly tested.
I have seen homes sell for less than expected only to find out that the seller was overly restrictive with their allowable showing windows or the tenants in the home refused to cooperate with showing requests.
At the very least, a seller should pack up as many items as possible to allow buyers to truly get a feel for the space in the home. The sellers will have to move out anyway, so they might as well do it on the front end in case a buyer wants a quick closing. I have seen sellers refuse great offers because they had too much left to pack to meet the closing date.
Every home should also be as clean as possible, with odors neutralized. Buyers need to feel comfortable enough at their showing to stay for a while and think seriously about whether the home could work for their needs. I have shown homes in the summer with no air conditioning and the temperature upwards of 90 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster, as many buyers will not stay long enough for serious consideration. A clean, comfortable, empty home will sell, even if updates and repairs are needed.
When sellers have a budget for repairs and upgrades, I advise them on what I believe is the best use of those funds and where they will see the highest return. Even a modest budget can go a long way with the right choice of upgrades. Getting a home ready for market is one of my favorite parts of my job—and definitely one of the most rewarding, as we get to see tangible results for our efforts.
Jennifer Mack has more than 16 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 703-672-0038.
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