ALEXANDRIA, Va. — City leaders urged residents on Tuesday to once again wear masks in public indoor settings as COVID-19 metrics showed "substantial transmission" of the virus in the area.
According to Virginia Department of Health data, the total number of cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days totaled 56.64, signaling "substantial transmission" in the area for the first time since early May.
Records also showed the seven-day average of cases nearly doubling from 6.9 to 13.3 in only a week.
Due to the rising metrics, the Alexandria Health Department urged neighbors to choose outdoor gatherings over indoor ones, getting tested when showing symptoms of COVID-19 and wearing masks in public indoor settings.
For businesses like the Hooray For Books! store on King Street, the new guidance won't lead to any changes.
After shutting down due to the pandemic last year, staff still require customers to wear masks and use sanitizer when inside the store.
Manager Victoria Clibon told WUSA 9 that the store hoped to offer a safe and clean environment, especially for the children who often stop by.
"We cater so much to children and we want to make sure the kids who cannot be vaccinated are fully protected," she said. "We feel we’re part of a community here and we really want to care for the people who come into our store.”
On Tuesday, customers could pick up a free mask when entering the book shop.
Next to the front door, a special hand sanitizer station also stood ready to be used by anyone who entered.
After a year of navigating through changing guidelines and reopening rules, Clibon said the newest stage of the pandemic would keep requiring businesses and schools to be flexible due to the rising COVID numbers.
"It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen so you just listen to the experts and do what’s best for your community," she said. "We hope that this is just a blip and people continue to get vaccinated and protest themselves and protect their community.”
As of Tuesday night, 58.1% of the Alexandria population 12 years old and over had been fully vaccinated.
Anyone interested in receiving a vaccination in the city can find more information about pop-up clinics here.