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Health Related COVID-19 Questions
Please visit the Center for Disease Control for regular updates.
What is COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)?
- COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illnesses similar to the common cold. Others can cause more serious illnesses, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
- COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How can you protect yourself and your family?
- Avoid crowds where infection can spread more readily; maintain social distancing by being about 6 feet apart from others to avoid close contact.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people as much as possible.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
What is the status of coronavirus in Arlington?
- On March 19, 2020, public health officials noted evidence of community transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus in parts of Northern Virginia. Community transmission, or “community spread,” is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as a “spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown.”
- It is important to note that the Arlington County Public Health Department does not test for COVID-19.
- You must contact your doctor to be evaluated and receive a doctor’s order. If you have questions, you can call 703-228-7999 (Mon.-Fri,, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
- The Virginia Department of Health provides regular updates on cases in Virginia.
- To learn more about Coronavirus, visit our COVID-19 page.
What should I do if I feel ill or think I have symptoms?
If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your doctor or health care provider. Providers will advise patients with mild illness to isolate at home, according to CDC recommendations. Health care providers are using their medical judgement to order tests for COVID-19.
- Your doctor will review your symptoms, how long you’ve been sick, and your potential for exposure, among other factors to make a medical decision on whether to test you or recommend other actions, like isolating at home.
- It is important you call your doctor before going to the office and follow their instructions. They will need to put infection control precautions in place prior to your visit.
- Testing requires collection of nose and throat swab specimens, which will be shipped to a laboratory for testing.
Should I wear a cloth face covering when in public settings?
Arlington County is encouraging all Arlingtonians to wear cloth face coverings when in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. The cloth face covering is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. To be clear, this is not meant as a replacement to staying at home, handwashing or maintaining six feet of distance – those remain the cornerstones in the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Learn how to make your own mask with Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.
How do I get tested at the Virginia Hospital Location?
- The Virginia Hospital Center has mobilized a sample collection site, in partnership with Arlington County, to provide Arlington residents and employees a safe and convenient opportunity to have their samples collected for COVID-19 testing.
- ONLY patients who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and have a written order from their doctor will receive a scheduled appointment at the VHC sample collection site.
- This site is for drive-up only.
- Learn more about this.
Arlington County Public Health, along with other public health agencies in the region, is not testing for COVID-19. You must contact your doctor to be evaluated.
Are there other testing sites in Northern Virginia?
Inova Urgent Care – North Arlington, Dulles South and Tysons are now staffing respiratory clinics to evaluate patients with respiratory illnesses. These clinics are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
What happens if I receive a COVID-19 diagnosis after testing?
Anyone who is confirmed via lab testing with COVID-19 is investigated and monitored by the health department.
- The health department conducts a “contact investigation” to identify additional people who came in close contact with individuals in order to decrease the spread of the illness. Those close contacts will be self-quarantined and actively monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. If close contacts start experiencing symptoms, they will immediately be tested.
- The health department routinely conducts contact investigations for other communicable diseases like measles and tuberculosis–and now, COVID-19–to determine who is at high risk for exposure to stop the spread of the disease.
Can the virus that causes COVID-19 spread through food, including refrigerated or frozen food?
Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Visit the CDC website for more information.
Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?
To date, that CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals. Visit the CDC website for more information.
Arlington County Government Operations
What does the Governor’s new Stay at Home Order mean for Arlingtonians?
- Everyone is required to stay home, with exceptions for buying food, caring for family members, seeking medical attention, going to work, or volunteering for a nonprofit.
- The governor’s order does allow individual exercise, provided people comply with social distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart from people outside their household.
- All public and private gatherings or 10 or more people continue to be prohibited. Social distancing guidelines remain in place for small groups. This also applies to parks, fields, and other public areas.
- Every Arlingtonian must do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing and frequent handwashing are the best way to combat the coronavirus. So stay at home to help save lives.
Where can I find the operating status for County departments, services, and programs ?
The County is committed to the health and safety of our employees and our community. We have closed many programs and facilities (e.g., libraries, community centers, parks, playgrounds); however, we continue to operate essential government services for our residents and businesses. The current status of County departments, services and programs can be found on our status updates page.
How can I receive emergency alerts and other important information from Arlington County?
Sign up for Arlington Alert to receive FREE emergency alerts and other important information from Arlington County.
Resources for Neighbors in Need
I am in immediate need of food, housing support, or other vital social services. What should I do?
- If you need help with rent and expenses, are at risk of being evicted or homeless, need assistance with food or any other vital social service needs, contact the Housing and Food Assistance line at 703-228-1300.
Where can I go to find more information on food, medical, or financial assistance in Arlington County?
- See food, medical, and financial assistance resources for Arlington neighbors in need.
Where can I go to find more information on housing resources during COVID-19?
- For information on housing assistance, rent payments, eviction prevention, and help with other vital social service needs, visit our Housing FAQs or call the Housing and Food Assistance Hotline at 703-228-1300.
How can I offer support or volunteer?
- We have had a tremendous outpouring of concerned residents across Arlington. We appreciate all that Arlingtonians are doing to take care of one another. Volunteer Arlington is updating a webpage with the needs from the County’s nonprofits, which is primarily goods and money and the occasional opportunities for in-person volunteering.
Are child care providers allowed to continue operations?
Based on the Governor’s directive and guidance issued from Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), child care programs may remain open at this time. They should, however, prioritize services for children of essential personnel, while asking all families to keep their children home if they can. Programs that remain open must comply with VDSS guidance on limiting group sizes to10 (including children and staff) and practice social distancing. For more information, visit the Child Care website.
Local Businesses and Restaurants
What is Arlington doing to support businesses impacted by coronavirus?
- Arlington Economic Development and BizLaunch are working to support businesses during this time. There is a resource webpage available for small businesses.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration has Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Are there any restaurants or businesses still open during Coronavirus?
- Arlington is an innovative community, and many of our businesses have adjusted their operations during this pandemic to help each other and continue to provide services to the community. These efforts include curbside pick-up, free delivery, e-gift cards, and/or discounts on orders. Explore the many options here!
- NOTE: For specific questions about the requirements for business operations during Governor Northam’s Stay at Home Order, visit FAQ.
Are Arlington Farmer’s Markets Open?
- On March 25, 2020, the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) issued additional guidance to provide a means for farmers markets to continue to operate.
- Arlington’s Farmers Markets are open with ONLY preordered sales.
- To limit the exposure to Covid-19, vendors are not permitted to display food or on-site shopping. This guidance enables markets to remain open giving Arlingtonians access to fresh, locally-grown food while promoting social distancing.
- Included in the guidance to farmers markets are directives for patrons:
- Comply with social distancing guidelines. While COVID-19 is not spread by food, patrons and workers must adhere to social distancing to prevent person-to-person spread of the virus.
- Orders will be boxed. Patrons should avoid touching or inspect their orders on site.
- Shoppers should go to the specific market’s website to find out how you can schedule your order. See a list of all Arlington farmers markets. Markets will limit the number of patrons inside the market to 10 at a time.
Parks and Recreation
Why are parks, playgrounds, fields, and athletic courts closed?
- With the expectation of nicer spring weather through early next week, Arlington County officials are reminding residents that they must limit their outside activity to essential trips and individual exercise.
- The direction is in accordance with Governor Ralph Northam’s Stay At Home Order issued Monday, March 30. While the Governor’s order does allow individuals to exercise outside, it requires people to comply with social distancing guidelines and stay six feet away from people not in their household.
- The County’s nearly 49 miles of trails and community gardens remain open, but Arlington residents must do their part to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Social distancing saves lives.
- The Governor’s order prohibits all public and private gatherings of 10 or more people in any public or private settings.
- Arlington County/APS parks, fields, playgrounds, restrooms, tracks, dog parks and athletic courts remain closed. It is unlawful to break into closed and locked facilities. However, crossing through unlocked parks to get to a trail or non-park destination is allowed.
- Arlington County Police, park rangers, and park rovers will be monitoring parks, trails, playgrounds and fields to ensure compliance with the Governor’s Stay at Home Order.
What is the status of WMATA services?
- WMATA continues to provide rail, bus and paratransit service within the County recommending only essential travel. Please refer to the WMATA website for current and proposed schedule information.
Is ART still operating in Arlington?
- ART is operating reduced routes and services, and riders are encouraged to check the website for updated schedules and information.
- ART bus riders are now entering and exiting all ART buses using the rear doors only.
- Customers who require the use of a wheelchair ramp can still enter the bus through the front door.
- ART will also be suspending fare collection on all ART buses since the farebox is located at the front door.
- These measures are being put in place to protect bus operators and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. ART will continue to take precautions to keep passengers and bus operators safe, including deep cleaning and sanitizing all buses thoroughly at the end of each night.
- STAR service (Paratransit) will continue to provide normal service.
Trash and Recycling Services
Will my trash and recycling be picked up?
- During this unprecedented time, we encourage residents to be mindful of the quantity of waste we are throwing away so as not to overwhelm the collection system. Although all regular weekly curbside collection services are currently available, collection resources are beginning to show signs of strain.
- Available solid waste services for residents:
- Trash, recycling and yard waste curbside collection
- Household hazardous materials drop-off on Tuesdays and Thursdays (By appointment only. Call 703-228-5000 to schedule.)
- Mulch pick-up and delivery
- Recycling drop-off centers, including glass, cardboard and mixed recyclables. Please note that these sites are monitored. Illegal dumping of unaccepted materials is not allowed and may result in a fine.
- Please note that the County’s hauler has suspended bulk curbside collection for residential customers until further notice. This includes furniture, mattresses and any appliances larger than a standard microwave. Trash placed outside the refuse cart should be bagged, weighing less than 50 pounds each.
What do I do if I can’t pay my taxes?
Federal: The federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. Learn details more on the IRS website.
State: The state also has taken steps to provide relief for taxpayers in Virginia, including payment extensions and penalty waivers. See details on the state website.
Local: The Arlington County Treasurer also announced late payment penalty and interest will not be imposed on local taxes with a payment due date between March 13 and April 30, 2020, if such taxes are paid in full by May 31, 2020. This decision primarily but not exclusively affects Arlington County Meals, Food, and Beverage (MEA) Taxes and Transient Occupancy (TOT) Taxes, which would ordinarily be due March 20 and April 20. Read more details on the County website.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. This site’s content is reviewed daily and will be updated as appropriate. Last reviewed and updated on April 10, 2020.