Updates from Letty – January 15, 2021

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

Dear Friends,

After a dark start to 2021, this week’s post will be more uplifting. I’ll share the latest good news on vaccines, an event that is a bright spot for me every year, and regular City Council business.

First, vaccines: I’ve been fielding a lot of questions. I know we’re all anxious to get loved ones and ourselves vaccinated, and there is a lot of new information. The information is changing frequently as Virginia ramps up vaccinations. A week ago, Governor Northam announced that 11 health districts in Virginia would move to Phase 1b, enabling adults 75+ and the first two essential worker groups to begin vaccinations. And just yesterday, the Governor announced that vaccination eligibility will expand to 65+ and adults with high risk conditions. Read on for more info, FAQs, and a new tool to determine your eligibility and be notified when your time comes. Remember, the city is served by the Fairfax Health District so the best source of information is from them. Please help get the word out to those not online or social media.

As we look at the week ahead:

1) Please heed the increased security precautions ahead of the Inauguration next Wednesday. Among other closures, City public buildings will be closed next Monday through Wednesday (Monday in observance of MLK Jr Day and Tuesday-Wednesday in an abundance of caution). Our police are in coordination with the region to ensure a peaceful and safe transition of power. Stay home if possible and avoid downtown Washington DC.

2) We traditionally honor MLK Jr Day with a city day of service – and of course this year it will look different. Consider making power packs remotely with the Elementary PTA or┬átake part in other ideas with the National Day of Service. You can also tune into Tinner Hill’s livestreamed event on Monday.

Take care,

What’s Happened This Week:

(1) COVID Vaccine Info

Useful links:

Vaccine info (links to Fairfax Health Department, which serves the City of Falls Church)
Vaccine Tracker by Locality
Eligibility Tool

Who should be registering for appointments?

Vaccinations are underway for Phase 1a and parts of Phase 1b. This week, as part of Phase 1b, adults 75+ can schedule an appointment with the health department by calling 703 324 7404 (Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm; Sat-Sun, 9:30am-5pm) or using the online pre-screen form (online is recommended due to high call volume).

Beginning next Monday, January 18 – vaccination registration begins for 65+ and people with high-risk medical conditions. Again – use the online form or call the hotline above. Currently, frontline essential workers should NOT contact the health department; their closed clinics will be scheduled through their places of work. For example, FCCPS teachers will have a closed vaccination clinic next Monday.

If I’m not in one of the current prioritized groups, what should I do?

The Virginia Department of Health rolled out a new online tool to help you determine your eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. When your turn comes, you will get an alert with instructions for how to register.

While new groups being added to the vaccine rollout is welcome, good news, I know we all would like to see it move faster. We’re told that the ability to schedule appointments and administer vaccines will depend on the supply of vaccine available. We will stay on top of this, offer resources, and creative ideas to ensure everyone who wants to be vaccinated can get one as soon as possible.

(2) West Falls Church Project

As I wrote about last week, the amendments to the West Falls Church project (aka, the 10 acre project on the site of the old high school) were up for a vote this week; we passed the changes by a 6-1 vote. As a result of the economic fallout from the pandemic, no one wanted to be in the position to have to negotiate revised economic terms that results in smaller land payments to the city. That said, the project still covers the debt service for the new high school – a core commitment in the financing plan presented to voters in the 2017 referendum – and preserves the mix of uses which will be critical to the vibrancy of the end project and the projected tax yields. 

(3) Police Critical Incident Response Team

For those following police reform – this week, regional police departments announced the creation of a Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to review incidents involving the use of force by police. This is meant to be a multi-jurisdiction, independent review, with results presented to the Commonwealth Attorney. We will be hearing from the Use of Force Review Committee in February with their update.

(4) 7th Grade Civics “Election Day”

Participating as a judge in 7th grade Civics “Election Day” is an annual highlight for me. Every year, I am impressed by the students’ creative and insightful ideas about how to improve our community (if only 7th graders could vote!) and this year was no different, even if it was a virtual Election Day.

Among the ideas I heard today: more sidewalks, bike lanes, trees, park renovations; city-wide composting; annual city clean up; public murals; COVID mask stations; welcome more diverse populations outside of Falls Church to attend our schools.

I hope you enjoy seeing their ideas as much as I did and they, too, will offer you some hope for the future.

What’s Coming Up:

Current draft schedule of meetings and agenda items: https://fallschurch-va.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=1739&meta_id=99146

City Council Meetings start at 730 pm, unless otherwise specified. You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of past meetings including virtual Board & Commission meetings: http://www.fallschurchva.gov/471/Watch-City-Council-Meetings