Northern Virginia entered Phase 2 of Covid-19 re-opening last week. That was good news for most people, as the lockdowns of the past three months have kept many residents home and, perhaps, apprehensive. Should I go out? Is it safe to go out? Which stores are open? Can/should I go back to work? Do I still need to wear a facemask? What about travelling overnight? Perhaps the only certain answer is yes, you must wear a facemask whenever you go outside your front door. A facemask protects you and whomever you may meet, even in a brief outing.
Sadly, outside of Covid-19, it may be difficult to ascertain which phase we are in. Weeks of peaceful and not-so-peaceful protests heighten the awareness of many citizens, but the shock of caught-on-camera footage of police actions against black men here in Fairfax County, in Atlanta, and elsewhere, has added fuel to the fire. Hundreds of identical emails to elected officials, demanding defunding of police, are an easy way to communicate. Tapping a button on your phone to send a canned instant message to dozens of pre-selected officials, though, just skims the surface. Getting involved in potential change needs more than loud chants. It requires open minds, examination of current rules and regulations and how they came about, and a willingness to listen to all points of view. If Phase Zero is mostly peaceful protest marches, then perhaps entering Phase 1 for dialogues about public safety is possible. Perhaps….
On a brighter side, a couple of recent events, involving vehicles, in Mason District demonstrates how creativity can make lemonade from some pretty bitter lemons. The Covid-19 pandemic meant that local high school seniors didn’t get to experience the various rites of graduation – Senior Skip Day, prom, walking across the stage to receive a diploma, the all-night graduation party afterward, or even Beach Week. In Lincolnia, neighbors got together to create a unique experience for seniors and their families and, fortunately, the weather cooperated. On a perfect sunny Saturday morning, graduating seniors, mostly from Annandale High School with a few other schools represented, filled the sidewalk adjacent to the Lincolnia Park Recreation Club. Wearing school colors and seated in decorated lawn chairs, with balloons flying, the graduates presided over a parade of over 40 or so decorated vehicles that passed by. Flanked at the beginning and end by fire apparatus from Station 26, lights flashing and occasional siren blasts, the parade was a delightful and distinctive salute to the hard work of the Class of 2020.
Last year, the Medical Care for Children Partnership (MCCP) Foundation (www.mccpfoundation.org) inaugurated a new pediatric dental care van that provides free dental care to children who qualify for the program. The van is equipped with two dental suites, and all the accoutrements of a small dental office. Sadly, Covid-19 caused a suspension of the dental program, but MCCP leadership repurposed the van – providing twice-a-week meals to needy families in the Culmore area at the Woodrow Wilson Library.
Working with partners, including the Legal Aid Justice Center and famed chef Jose Andres, MCCP already has provided more than 2500 meals to the community. Hunger is a huge issue during the pandemic, as evidenced by increasing demands at locally run food pantries. Fortunately, MCCP identified a community need, sought a resolution, and brought resources to help. Thank you, MCCP!
Stay safe, and healthy.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]