Northern Virginia’s chief elected officials are urging Gov. Ralph Northam to put the brakes on reopening closed businesses in the state’s five largest localities, saying the metrics of the state’s reopening plan have not been met in Virginia’s most populous region.
The elected officials, who include Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler, sent a letter to Governor Ralph Northam, Saturday outlining their concerns.
The letter said the leaders support Northam’s “Forward Virginia” reopening plan in general but note Northern Virginia is not yet ready to move with the rest of the state.
“We eagerly wish to rebuild our economy and help our residents recover,” wrote Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, who signed the letter along with Wheeler and board of supervisors chairs of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
“It is only through our regional achievement of these milestones that we will be positioned to avoid a more damaging return to business closures later in the summer.”
In a joint press release, the localities’ leaders said that although the metrics appear likely to be met statewide by Friday, May 15, “this does not appear to be the case for Northern Virginia.”
Northern Virginia region comprises the 2.5 million residents of the city of Alexandria and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and represents nearly a third of the population of Virginia and half of the state’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the press release said.
The Forward Virginia plan requires the following metrics be met before the first phase of reopening can occur statewide: a downward trend of positive test results over a period of 14 days; a downward trend of hospitalizations over a period of 14 days; sufficient hospital beds and intensive care capacity; increasing and sustainable supply of personal protective equipment such as masks, respirators, gloves and gowns; and increased testing and tracing.
According to an analysis by the region’s public health directors, all five metrics for Northern Virginia are either unmet or cannot be determined based on currently available data.
“Regardless of the timeline for reopening, it is critical that everyone continue to vigilantly practice the actions proven to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” the press release adds.
These include staying home as much as possible and especially when sick; frequent hand washing; covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning and disinfecting surfaces regularly; staying at least 6 feet apart from other people when outside the home; and wearing a cloth face covering over the nose and mouth when it is essential to be in public and physical distancing practices are difficult to maintain.
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