COVID-19: More Everyday Heroes…

Beech Tree Elementary to the rescue!

When Beech Tree mother Van Nguyen heard about the shortage of medical face masks, she put her sewing skills into action and produced 20 masks. Local medical professional pleaded for more. Then Beech Tree 5th grader Caroline joined the effort. Learning how to sew from her mother and YouTube tutorials, she has completed three face masks and has 30 more in production, reports the Fairfax County Public School community relations staff.

Scanning for fevers, donating masks. Based on its experiences dealing with the COVID-19 situation in China and Singapore, Micron Technology, which operates a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Manassas, is using noninvasive thermal scanners to determine if entering employees have a fever.  Sick employees can be told to return home. The company responded early to the epidemic, increasing site-cleaning rotations, making changes to cafeteria serving, and restricting large gatherings. The company is sharing its experience with other major employers across Virginia — and joining other firms, such as Huntington Ingalls, the Newport News shipbuilder, in donating personal protective gear to healthcare workers, reports Stephen Moret, CEO of the Virginia Economic Development in a recent communication to economic development partners.

Another $1 million for tests. The Charlottesville-based Quantitative Foundation has donated $1 million to UVA Health to accelerate the number of tests performed by the health system from 200 daily to more than 500. The grant provides for putting aside a portion for inpatients at other Virginia hospitals and for clinical providers and first responders with symptoms. Prior to the deployment of UVA Health’s in-house testing, patients were waiting five to nine days for results. Thanks to the UVA Health’s ability to produce its own tests, local turnaround time has been cut to 24 hours.

A limited number of trained personnel has constrained the ability of UVA Health to administer tests. The hospital system’s lab is using the grant to add a new lab tech position. That, in addition to the current cross-training of existing laboratory personnel, reports UVAToday, will allow testing in a second shift. The funds will also be used to order a second robotic instrument which, when installed, will further increase capacity.


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21 responses to “COVID-19: More Everyday Heroes…”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Our BOS has also pretty much done away with “in person” public comment.

    They encourage email.

    And they are exploring other methods of which they do exist partially – for instance, right now, some courts have been already arraigning people via video teleconferencing and some court trials. And now, there needs to be a way for trials to go forward with all participants including the jury to be “distanced” from each other. No more witness sitting next to the judge or the prosecutor standing near the witness.

    I also suspect that people will be able to comment in BOS and other hearings via Zoom or Webex or”go to meeting” but it will need to be modified to include a moderator function to que up speakers, give them their 3 minutes then go to the next speaker…. and all of them not in the room but remote maybe from their own homes.

    Of course, I’ve also wondered what specifically in the law mandates a public speaking opportunity in general but especially so for SOME but not all actions – like rezonings and setting the tax rate but not other things that are handled administratively.

    DJ here often rails about Richmond, the Plantation Elite and Dillions Rule – but it is Richmond that mandates/requires these public speaks and if this was delegated to the localities, I’d not be surprised at all that some do away with them – corono-virus or after!

    Kudos to all the heros – who are contributing to making things more tolerable.

    1. Sara E. Carter Avatar
      Sara E. Carter


      State Code does not mandate a general public comment time. It is a local decision- though the vast majority of localities do afford citizens the opportunity to comment on matters that are not public hearing items.

      State Codes DOES mandate public comment with public hearings on items such as zoning matters, code amendments, tax rates, and the budget. Those must be advertised in accordance with Code and citizens must be allowed time to speak.

      All of the localities are struggling right now with the question of how to both abide by the new directives on no public gatherings over ten people and FOIA provisions for open meetings.

      We are currently exploring Zoom for our next meeting. As a small locality that has not ever broadcasted meetings before, this is a new world for us. We, like most other localities, are still planning to have our public comment time, though we may need to have sign ups before the meeting to make sure we manage it well. From what I am hearing from other managers, this is going to be the new normal- online meetings, sign up for comment time ahead of time, and do as much as possible to put information out on the internet.


      1. “State Code does not mandate a general public comment time”, YET, but likely will on July 1 as a result of SB977 (passed unanimously in both chambers) that mandates under § 15.2-1416. Regular meetings; D. The governing body shall provide members of the general public with the opportunity for public comment during a regular meeting at least quarterly.

        1. Sara E. Carter Avatar
          Sara E. Carter


          Thank you. Yes, you are right. I saw that earlier in the session and promptly forgot about it, as we were already in compliance. This law, will however, will affect those localities that haven’t been doing this. I wonder who they are, and who generated the desire for the legislation?


          1. As I recall the genesis was some controversial circumstance in the City of Salem (in his district) which does not provide for public comment. There have been similar issues in Green County, Charlottesville, etc. and now Prince William County. The immediate issue Prince Willy was brought about the thin-skinned and incompetent new County Board Chair whose ham handed efforts with respect to 2A issues, personal property taxes, controversial land use applications, etc. have resulted in hundreds of citizens publicly providing rather unflattering comments in a face to face forum she can’t escape.

        2. LarrytheG Avatar

          This affects a LOT of public bodies – like Planning Districts, MPOs, VRE, School Boards, Planning Commissions, review boards, etc… and they’re all scrambling on how to conduct a meeting and
          two issues for sure:

          1. – how to vote if not physically present in a meeting

          2. – how to allow the public to view and participate

          All of this is going to have to be addressed.

          Rural counties that have no broadcasts and little internet infrastructure are going to have a harder time.

          Let me throw one or two mores idea. You Tube or Facetime …

          As far as I know there is no COTS – commercial off the shelf solution – they’re going to have to cobble together stuff… and I’m sure there
          are going to be fails and re-attempts….etc.. but at some point, one or two will getting it calibrated and others will learn from them.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        Thanks Sara –

        I sort of knew that some things required hearings and others did not and the local board could allow others.

        I just never understood the basic reason why “hearings” are required. I think they are valuable – and sometimes annoying depending on the speakers but do these hearings have some fundamental underpinning in the US Constitution or are they totally up to the States and the States may or may not require them ?

        thanks again for weighing in… and enlightening!

        1. The reasoning is simple and long-standing, Local jurisdictions are mandated to hold public hearings on issues such as the budget, rezonings, etc. as those matters are often impact property rights and/or due process and can be very contentious particularly where the interests of businesses (see developer) conflict with the rights and interests of private citizens or groups of citizens. As it stands those issues can result in litigation, the likelihood of which is diminished when local jurisdictions hold public hearings and address (whether they actually do or not) those issues. In theory, public hearings provide the opportunity for the opposition to voice its opinion and allow the elected officials to make an informed choice (again whether they do so or not is another matter) theoretically precluding bad decisions that might not survive a court challenge.

          Does it actually work, meh, sometimes yes, sometimes no but its all we have.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            yes I can see the “reasoning” but exactly what is the rationale in law?

            No all bodies that make decisions have to “hear you” – right?

            so there much be some critieria that parts the waves and requires it on some issues and not others.. right?

            also – is it required that there be public speak rather than written comments?

            I notice at some VDOT “hearings” there is no public speak. They take written comments and they have an audio transcriber ….but no microphone or public speak time.

          2. Do all bodies that make decisions have to “hear you” ? It depends on the issue and the body but in the case of most elected and many appointed bodies in the Commonwealth, the answer is yes.

            The criteria for the issues and the bodies impacted is delineated in the Code of Virginia with great specificity.

            The opportunity for public speaking is mandated but written comments are also acceptable.

            I have been to many VDOT/SCC “hearings” including those with provisions for written comments/transcribed testimony, etc, but have never been denied a mike.

    2. djrippert Avatar

      Lol. So in home rule states like Iowa there is no public comment time at the local level? Because they don’t have the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond to protect them from local officials? Really?

      Here’s what your sainted state government is doing right now – covering up Coronavirus testing inadequacies in Virginia. Ralph “the Mime” Northam manages to hold press conferences without ever saying the words test or testing. Other governors rightly make testing a centerpiece of their presentations to their citizens. When asked questions about testing in Virginia the Mime and his cohort dodge the question babbling about how increased testing across the US is uncovering an increasing number of cases while never addressing testing in Virginia.

      However, word is leaking out from the front lines. From Jim Bacon’s article, “NoVa Healthcare adapts to the Epidemic” comes the following quote:

      “In Northern Virginia, he says, tests are being used not for epidemiological purposes (to track the spread of the disease) but as a screening device to determine if patients are appropriate candidates for ICUs and respirators.”

      From the Fairfax County Health website:

      “We recognize the capacity for testing is not currently meeting demand, and the challenges to COVID-19 testing in Fairfax County are similar to those being experienced across the country.”

      Meanwhile, at last count, Virginia was testing at 58% of the nationwide per-capita rate.

      But Ralph “the Mime” Northam doesn’t want to discuss testing in Virginia during his press conferences. And … he has gone from a press conference every weekday to three press conferences per week. I guess the crisis is abating in Virginia and no longer requires regular updates from The Mime.

      You’re being deceived by your state government Larry. Lying through omission. What use are the Coronavirus case counts if, as the NoVa doctor says, “tests are being used not for epidemiological purposes (to track the spread of the disease)”?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        DJ – almost all states are having trouble with enough test kits. It’s not the fault of the governors per se.

        We DO need more test kits but in case you haven’t noticed – it’s a problem nation-wide and as far as I know, not a single state has enough to be able to use them epidemiologically.

        All this is really about is the already-existing vociferous critics of Northam have more opportunity to hammer him…. not a whole lot more.

        And I’ll repeat once more – he is in no way, shape or form the equal of Cuoma or some other governors… but he is also no worse than many others.

        First ya’ll hammer him for not closing the schools, then when he did ya’ll hammer him again. Got hammered when he did not close all restaurants and now hammered for closing them.

        Its a no-win . The critics just take turns …

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    That just arrived in an e-mail from the RTD. A list of how various Carytown businesses are coping. Fascinating. Damn smart marketing, too. The resilience and spirit are amazing. (But unemployment is still going to be higher than the 2009 peak.)

    As to the public speaking opportunity, less important in this age of communications options. It’s just like at the legislature – if you are making your case at the committee podium, you are behind the curve and doomed.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      What’s interesting, perhaps illuminating is that we’re talking unemployment of 3.6 million in a country where about 160 million are employed.

      Often heard is that small business is 1/3 to 1/2 of total jobs.

      What am I missing?

  3. We have had someone running for City Council here passing out their cards to folks in stores. Caused a ruckus. Then a federal candidate running for office going door to door for signatures. Caused a ruckus. SMH …

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” I have been to many VDOT/SCC “hearings” including those with provisions for written comments/transcribed testimony, etc, but have never been denied a mike.”

    I’ve been to some where there is just written and audio transcribed. There are no chairs, podium or mike just informational displays. They also have a table for property owners.

    1. I can see that at a presentation by VDOT but never at a mandated public hearing.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    okay, so how is VDOT going to do hearings now? just wait?

    1. My guess would be they defer those hearing which can be deferred. The question our illustrious AG has yet to opine on is whether the Governor’s State of Emergency declaration stops the clock from tolling on those matter which require a public hearing and have a statutory timeline, like many land use applications.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    yep and that could be an adverse impact to entrepreneurs with money in play.

    Despite the Govt intention to hold harmless, there is going to be a crapload of carnage.

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