Issue 54
Friday, February 26, 2021
Prince William County
Dear Neighbors,

With all due respect to Charles Dickens, since our last issue, it has felt like "a tale of two weeks". First, on a superficial level, we whiplashed from low temperatures near 15 degrees to, days later, a high of almost 67. Then, on a deep and lasting level, we had the tragic, historic milestone of 500,000 souls lost to COVID-19, followed by the hopeful news that we are on the cusp of approval for a third, one-dose, vaccine.

Please, don't let my meteorological analogy be misleading. Nothing eclipses the magnitude of loss the United States has suffered from COVID-19. This is a watershed moment that will be marked in our country's timeline. Fittingly, flags were lowered to half-staff. The National Cathedral's church bells rang 500 times. And, as we are all too aware, the loss of life is only one measure of this pandemic's devastating impact.

Yet, just like the breath of Spring weather felt practically balmy after weeks of snow and sleet, the continued positive trends and vaccine news made the hope for better days a bit brighter after a year of despair. We all only need to continue practicing spread mitigation awhile longer and become vaccinated when it is our turn, so we can fully embrace the sunnier days that will come our way.

In Service,
Chair Ann Wheeler
Change in Statewide Mitigation Measures
Virginia continues to see COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations fall. At the same time, the number of vaccinations administered is steadily rising. In light of these positive trends, Governor Ralph Northam announced this week that, effective Monday, March 1, he is easing some of the mitigation measures in place to slow the spread of the virus. Visit Forward Virginia if you would like more detailed information.

The new guidelines will be effective for at least one month and mitigation measures may be eased further if key health metrics continue to improve. Current guidelines for retail businesses, fitness and exercise, large amusement venues, and personal grooming services will remain in place. Individuals are strongly encouraged to continue teleworking if possible.
What is Changing

Social gatherings
  • Changing: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings.
  • Not Changing: Indoor settings remain at 10 persons.

Entertainment venues
  • Changing: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower.
  • Not Changing: Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people.

Dining establishments
  • Changing: Permission to participate in the on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol will be extended from 10:00 pm to midnight.
  • Not Changing: All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5:00 am. 

Overnight summer camps
Changing: As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place. Registration can begin now.
Vaccine News
Federal Pharmacy Partnership Expanded
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced this week that additional pharmacy networks are beginning to administer 26,000 COVID-19 vaccines to those age 65 and older as part of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership. This is on top of the 26,000 doses CVS Pharmacy Inc. received through the program, for a total of 52,000 additional vaccines.
The newly added pharmacies, who will share the additional 26,000 doses, include Walgreens, Walmart Inc., The Kroger Co., Albertsons Companies Inc. (Safeway), Retail Business Services LLC (Food Lion, Giant Food), Topco Associates LLC (Food City), and CPESN LLC, a network of multiple independent community pharmacies. Similar doses are expected in the following weeks.

These 52,000 doses from the federal partnership are in addition to the approximately 160,000 Virginia received this week to be distributed through local health departments and other providers.
The newly added eligible pharmacies are using Virginia’s centralized pre-registration system to contact individuals and schedule appointments.
Anyone 65 or older can also check the CVS vaccine appointment registry regularly to schedule an appointment as they become available.
An Opportunity to be Informed
On Thursday, March 4, from 6 pm to 7 pm, the Prince William Health District (PWHD) will host a virtual COVID-19 Vaccination Town Hall. Dr. Alison Ansher, Director of the PWHD, and Dr. Fabian Sandoval, CEO and Research Director of the Emerson Clinical Research Institute, will share important information about the vaccines.

To attend the virtual town hall, use this WebEx link. Submit your questions in advance to by Tuesday, March 2.
Vaccination and COVID-19 Resources
Chair's Calendar
Over the last few weeks, Chair Wheeler has participated in:

TuesdayMarch 2
at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm

For Public Comment Time options, visit 
SpeakUp! Prince William.
Remote speakers must sign-up by
5:00 pm on Monday, March 1.
In-person speakers can sign up at the meeting.
County News
Co-Responder Program
The PWC Co-Responder Program (see Hometown Hero article below) began in November 2020. Made possible by BOCS's funding in the FY2021 budget, it is a collaborative effort between the Police Department and Community Services. the program consists of three police officers and one police lieutenant from the Police Department, as well as three clinicians and one clinical supervisor from Community Services. PWC is using the "embedded model," which pairs an Emergency Services Clinician with a Crisis Intervention Trained certified police officer in a marked police cruiser.

The primary responsibility of the program is to respond to calls, as a team, to de-escalate situations involving residents in mental health crisis and connect them with appropriate services in the community. Throughout the country, this type of collaboration has been shown to reduce inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations by connecting members of the community with the crisis resources and treatment they need.
Agritourism and Arts Zoning Change
make many properties across the county eligible!
At their February 16 meeting, the BOCS approved a Zoning Text Amendment to establish the Agritourism and Arts Overlay District (AAOD). This will create an area where agritourism and art-related businesses can integrate, while still maintaining the character of the County's rural areas.

New agritourism uses include:
  • Retail area for selling goods and related products
  • Weddings and events
  • Instructional teaching related to on site agricultural uses
  • Trail, Playgrounds, or equipment, such as slides, swings, climbing and bouncing apparatus
  • Wagon, sleigh, and hayrides
  • All Arts related uses

Many of the uses that previously required a special permit are now being allowed without that. This can apply properties in the Rural Area zoned A-1 with 2 or more acres and all properties in the Development Area zoned A-1 with 20 Acres or more.

The innovative approach allows artists and business owners to occupy joint living and commercial space.

  • Arts-related spaces may include a wide variety such as studios, galleries, art and culinary classes, salons, shops, bakeries, and cafés.
  • Agricultural activities may comprise weddings, playgrounds, petting farms, hayrides, nature trails, and picnic areas with some restrictions.

Click on the hyperlinks below to learn more:
Opportunity to Participate on Equality
The new PWC Racial and Social Justice Commission (issue 37) invites you to participate in public comment time at their next meeting on March 18, at 6:30 pm in the Board Chambers at the James J. McCoart Administration Building. The BOCS created the Commission to examine the state of racial and social justice for people of color in policing, the provision of government services, and public education.

To contact the Commission:
Emailing or call 703-792-4680
A Seat at the Table
This week George Mason University announced the President’s Innovation Advisory Council, a powerhouse coalition of business executives and public sector leaders to help guide its tech-centric Arlington campus. Executive Director of Prince William County Department of Economic Development, Christina Winn, has been named to the council. You can read more about this exciting council and it's broad-ranging members from across the region here.
“At the core of the council’s work is ensuring that business owners have access: to new ideas, new people, and new technology. I am grateful to not only bring my expertise to this space, but also the goals of the Prince William County business owners, especially those in our bioscience cluster, which is anchored by GMU’s Science and Technology Park in Innovation Park, Manassas.”  
Christina Winn
Executive Director
Prince William County Department of Economic Development
Route 28 Meeting Follow-up
If you missed the Thursday, February 18, virtual meeting on the Route 28 Bypass project (issue 51), it is now available on the dedicated Route 28 Bypass website. The presentation portion begins just after the 17-minute mark, and the question-and-answer portion begins at the 29-minute mark.
Hometown Hero
Congratulations to Andrea Hess for being named the 2020 Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Behavioral Health Provider of the Year by the Virginia CIT Coalition. A standout member of PWC Community Services throughout her career as a behavioral health provider, Andrea has consistently gone above and beyond in meeting the needs of our community and community partners. In addition to this primary role, Andrea has demonstrated a commitment to the Virginia CIT, Greater Prince William Crisis Intervention Team (GPWCIT), local police departments, and the community in so many ways.
Andrea is a vital part of the newly established Co-Responder Unit, a collaborative effort between Community Services and the Police Department. Andrea’s hard work and commitment supported the success of the pilot program which has now been approved as a permanent program by the BOCS. She also assists the Manassas City Police Department with their Peer Support Program and Crisis Negotiation Team.
Since the inception of the Greater Prince William Crisis Intervention Team in November 2013, she has served in an integral role as its mental health coordinator. The one-hour First Responder Crisis Support Class she created for the Virginia CIT is an example of her out-of-the-box thinking.

Andrea helps with training and supports events for the PWC Police Peer Support Team. She works with the Crisis Negotiation Team, conducting evaluations when residents need assistance and following up to ensure situations are handled promptly.

Thank you, Andrea, for your dedication and service to the people of PWC, Manassas, and Manassas Park. The impact of your work is invaluable.
PWC Community Services Mission Statement
Community Services is committed to improving the wellbeing of residents of Prince William County, the City of Manassas, and the City of Manassas Park, who are affected by, or are at-risk of, developmental delays and disabilities, mental illness, and/or substance use disorders through the provision and coordination of community-based resources that respect and promote the dignity, rights, and full participation of individuals and their families.

Learn more in the Community Services annual report for the fiscal year 2020, including the community partnerships vital to their efforts.
School News
On February 17, the School Board reaffirmed its return to school dates for students in grades 4th through 12th who choose to attend in person. A snapshot of high-level details is below; you can learn more here. This builds upon the pre-K through third grade, 50 percent hybrid approach of attending two alternating days per week (T/Th or W/F as assigned by household), which began in November 2020 (issue 36).
Information Snapshot
  • Fourth, fifth, sixth, and ninth grades will return for House A on February 25 and House B on February 26.
  • Seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades will return for House A on March 2 and House B on March 3.
A Fitting and Timely Tribute
On Saturday, February 20, the 15th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station successfully launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad located on Wallops Island. The Cygnus spacecraft was named the S.S. Katherine Johnson in honor of longtime Virginia resident and pioneering Black NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and in celebration of Black History Month. If that name sounds familiar, it's because she was portrayed in the lead role in the 2016 film ‘Hidden Figures,’ based on the nonfiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly with the same title. If you missed the movie (see it!), or even if you did but would like to learn more about Katherine's life and her amazing contributions, visit her NASA biography page. You can learn more about the mission of her namesake here.
Ann B. Wheeler was elected Chair At-Large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during the 2019 General Election and assumed office on January 1, 2020. Prince William County is located 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., and is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s second-most populous county with approximately 470,000 residents.