Aug. 12, 2020
Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast. I’m your host Jim Person. Coming up, learn about the police department’s Cold Case Squad and how you can help solve cold cases, Chinese seed packets, a COVID-19 partner portal and a new Coronavisu app for your smartphone. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
The Fairfax County Police Department Major Crimes Bureau recently announced the implementation of a webpage dedicated to help Cold Case Squad detectives bring justice to victims of unresolved homicides in Fairfax County. Detectives continue to review files in order to provide details of cold cases spanning six decades in the hopes that someone will come forward with information leading to an arrest or furtherance of a case. The Cold Case Squad detectives would like to hear from you if you have any information, no matter how small, that could help to identify the person(s) responsible and to seek closure for the victims involved in these important cases. Anyone with information regarding any of our cold cases is asked to contact the Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 8. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at 866-411-8477, by text: Type “FCCS” plus tip to 8 4 7 4 1 1, and online. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 if their information leads to an arrest. Learn more at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police.
There have been numerous media and anecdotal reports about seed packets turning up in residents’ mailboxes. If you receive an unsolicited package containing seeds that may have Chinese writing on it, please do not plant the seeds in your yard or anywhere else. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) the types of seeds are unknown and may be an invasive plant species. The Agriculture Department would like to hear from residents who have received these unsolicited seeds and caution residents that “invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops.” Preventing their introduction to Virginia is the most effective method of reducing the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations. If you receive a package of seeds as described, call the county’s Urban Forest Management Division at 703-324-1770, or email email@example.com.
A new partner portal has been launched for local community leaders and organizations with shareable information about COVID-19 safety curated according to health messages. Users can grab-and-go with text and video content, visuals, flyers and other materials to insert into their next What’s App message, team email, social media platform or virtual service. The Health Department estimates that more than 200 local organizations have been supporting Fairfax residents with basic needs and connection to public health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Department encourages everyone to use the portal as a resource to share COVID-19 information within your community: virtual meetings or gatherings, community Facebook or What’s App groups, HOA newsletters, or any of the methods where you and your neighbors share information. For questions about the content, email the Health Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find the portal online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus/tools.
Virginia launched a new app on Wednesday that offers alerts if you have been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. Called COVIDWISE, the free app uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology developed by Apple and Google, and it does not use or store personal information or location data. This new app is an innovative tool to help to limit the spread of COVID-19, and Virginia is the first state in the nation to design an app using this technology. It is currently available in English and Spanish. Critically, this also allows people to know they need to isolate themselves if they test positive to prevent others from being infected. Anyone who downloads the app has the option to choose to receive exposure notifications, and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to share their result anonymously through COVIDWISE. The app works by using random Bluetooth keys that change every 10 to 20 minutes. iOS and Android devices that have the app installed will anonymously share these random keys if they are within close proximity for at least 15 minutes. Each day, the device downloads a list of all random keys associated with positive COVID-19 results submitted by other app users and checks them against the list of random keys it has encountered in the last 14 days. If there is a match, the app may notify the individual, taking into account the date and duration of exposure, and the Bluetooth signal strength which is used to estimate proximity. Learn more about how to download the app, how it works and its features at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covidwise.
Finally, stay informed during emergencies and severe weather events on the emergency information blog at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/blog. And be sure to sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
That’s it for this edition of the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast, produced by the Fairfax County, Va., Government. Thanks for listening. Additional information about health and safety topics and emergency preparedness may be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov. And remember, if you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.