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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.
- 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.
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.
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.
For all questions related to transmission of COVID-19, visit the CDC website.
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
Where can I go to find more information on food and financial or medical assistance in Arlington County?
See food, financial, and medical assistance resources for neighbors in need.
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).
What is Arlington County doing to support bars and restaurants during this period of time?
While Arlington County does not have the legal authority to order the same, we asked Arlington bars and restaurants to take responsible action and switch from dine-in service to only offering carryout and delivery.
- To encourage the safe option of curbside pick-up from these restaurants, Arlington County has designating free short-term curbside parking spaces outside businesses that are offering pick-up food orders.
- While many Arlington restaurants have closed their dining rooms, some have shifted to carryout only.
- A full list of restaurants is being compiled.
- To update their status, restaurants should email email@example.com.
- Businesses can request sign installation by calling 703-228-5000 or emailing DESContactCenter@arlingtonva.us.
Parks and Recreation
Why are parks, playgrounds, and fields closed?
In effort to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and encourage social distancing, effectively immediately, all Arlington County/Arlington Public Schools (APS) parks, playgrounds, fields, restrooms, tracks, dog parks and athletic courts are CLOSED until further notice.
Signs will be posted at all affected locations. Park visitors are asked to adhere to all closure notices and current social distancing recommendations.
The County’s nearly 49 miles of paved multi-use trails and additional hiking trails, remain open, with strict social distancing. If you choose to go for a walk, or exercise outside, please maintain a distance of six feet from people who are not a part of your household. Crossing through parks to get to a trail or non-park destination is allowed. The County’s community gardens remain open, with strict social distancing.
All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are banned. If you see large groups gathering in parks, please contact the Department of Parks and Recreation Roving Monitor at 571-238-0265 from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays.
As previously announced, all Parks and Recreation programs, centers, services and activities remain closed or canceled.
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.
- Starting Tuesday, March 24, Arlington Transit – ART bus riders will enter and exit 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.
- ART continues safe measures to ensure passengers and operators are safe. Continuous, deep cleaning and sanitizing of buses are performed daily and service is monitored to ensure sufficient service is provided with social distancing in effect. Current service information can be found on the Arlington Transit (ART) website.
- STAR service providers are deep cleaning vehicles each day and providing their drivers with disinfectant spray and wipes that they use to wipe down the seats, door handles, etc. throughout the day. STAR continues to provide normal service, however the volume of service has decreased dramatically as passengers have been encouraged to only use STAR for essential trips.
Child Care Providers
Are child care providers allowed to continue operations?
Licensed childcare providers follow state guidance, which currently allows them to remain open provided they can meet certain criteria and prioritize slots for essential personnel.
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 1, 2020.