COVID Relief For Residents, Businesses Tops Fairfax County Agenda

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — Fairfax County continued to provide relief to residents and small businesses across the county during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic through the dedication of county workers and volunteers as well as partnerships with nonprofits groups in the region, according to County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

From the volunteers in the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps to partnerships with Neighborhood Health and Cornerstones, the county built up a COVID-19 vaccination program that has led to a vaccination rate of more than 70 percent in every zip code in the county, McKay said in his 2022 State of the County address, released Wednesday.

Neighborhood Health, a nonprofit group in Northern Virginia, has provided primary care to all people, regardless of their ability to pay, to Fairfax County residents during the pandemic.

Another nonprofit group, Reston-based Cornerstones, was serving about 16,000 lower-income people per year before the pandemic. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Cornerstones, which has served the county for more than 50 years, worked on the frontlines by providing primary medical care, dental care, pharmacy assistance and COVID-19 testing to these residents.

The pandemic has caused “substantial” pain to residents of Fairfax County, with more than 1,000 county residents dying from COVID-19 since March 2020, McKay said.

In June 2020, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed six weeks of paid family leave for county employees, a benefit that helped employees take care of themselves or family members during the pandemic. The six weeks of paid leave can be used by workers to stay home for the birth or adoption of a child, when they are unable to work because of a chronic condition or ongoing medical treatment, or when a family member has an ongoing medical condition.

From Oct. 1, 2020, to Nov. 5, 2021, county employees used 368,000 hours of this new paid family leave benefit.

“It is my hope that our work on the county level will serve as motivation for businesses and organizations across the commonwealth to implement similar paid leave policies,” McKay said.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also created the Fairfax Relief Initiative to Support Employers, or Fairfax RISE, program to assist small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. The program is funded using federal CARES Act funds provided to the county.

Through the program, more than $87 million has been awarded to small businesses in Fairfax County to help them to stay in business during the pandemic. The program helps small businesses, like Le Bledo Eatery, a Vietnamese restaurant in Springfield, that may not have access or be eligible to other COVID-19 business funding programs, McKay said.

The chairman also said the county remains committed to police reform. In September, the Fairfax County Police Department launched a co-responder program that addresses mental health crises in the field and diverts people from arrest, he noted. The program consists of members from the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s Mobile Crisis Unit and Fairfax County police officers, who respond to 911 calls that warrant crisis intervention.

Over the past six months, Fairfax County Police officers have shot and injured at least two county residents suffering from a mental health crisis.

On Tuesday, a Fairfax County Police officer shot and injured a 51-year-old man who was pointing a bow and arrow at officers outside a Chantilly home. The man’s elderly parents contacted police on Tuesday after he began behaving in an unstable manner and threatened them, the police said.

In July, a Fairfax County Police officer shot and injured a 30-year-old woman at a group home in Springfield. A caretaker at the group home who called 911 said a woman was threatening to harm others inside the home. The woman, Jiyoung Lee, a resident of the Springfield group home, was taken to a local hospital where she was treated for the gunshot wound in her upper body.

The police department had been called to the same group home “on more than one occasion,” the police department said. The Springfield residence serves as a group home for people with intellectual disabilities.

This article originally appeared on the Chantilly Patch

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