Post written by Grafton deButts, VP of Membership & Government Affairs
In response to regional leaders seeking a delay of the Phase I roll-out in Northern Virginia, Governor Northam publicly reviewed the metrics of COVID-19 in Northern Virginia as compared with state-wide metrics. These metrics showed a higher number of positive tests, percent of positive tests, and hospitalizations in Northern Virginia when compared to the rest of the state.
Governor Northam said he would announce on Wednesday how a slower roll-out of Phase I will work in Northern Virginia.
On Sunday, government leaders from Loudoun, Prince William, Fairfax, Arlington, and the City of Alexandria sent a letter urging Governor Northam to consider delaying the start of Phase I in our region. Per a report sent to the Governor’s office, health officials in Northern Virginia are seeing cases peaking across the our region, rather than declining, while other key metrics for reopening remain unmeasured due to the lack of state provided data. Our regional leadership seeks permission to move into Phase I only after Northern Virginia, as a region, has reached the average declining metrics that are required.
Chair Phyllis Randall shared the reasoning for this request to the Governor on her public Facebook page today.
“After the meeting of the State Heath Directors, the five County/City Administrators met,” said Chair Randall in her post. “They too assessed the criteria from the Federal Government and the Governor, and they also determined we have not met any of the criteria. Hearing both from our State Health Directors and our County Administrators, the five Chief Elected Officials from Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington and Alexandria met and made the very hard decision to ask Governor Northam to allow our region to delay Phase I opening.”
In the same post, when responding to those who asked how the Board decided to make this statement, Chair Randall replied that this was done through “straw poll vote” among the supervisors resulting in a 6-3 vote “that did not fall along party lines.”
Dulles District Supervisor Matt Letourneau took a deeper look into what went into the decision to make this request in a constituent newsletter on Sunday:
“Ultimately, it will be Governor Northam’s decision to either maintain his current Executive Orders in the NOVA region, or exempt NOVA from the new ones he will be issuing that implement Phase 1. It is the opinion of the governmental bodies of the 5 jurisdictions that the Governor should exclude NOVA from Phase 1. This opinion follows the recommendation of both the Health Directors and the Chief Administrative Officers.
…the goal of government leaders and the public cannot and should not be the Governor’s Phase 1, which is still fairly limited. It should be to get back to as close to normal as we can with as few restrictions as possible (which is essentially Phase 3 in the Governor’s plan). That includes opening back up restaurants, entertainment venues, and schools. I had extensive discussions with the Loudoun County Administrator over the past several days about this issue. It is his opinion, which I share, that waiting until we meet the established criteria for Phase 1 will lead to us reaching this ultimate goal faster than a Phase 1 opening at this point in time, with cases at their peak.
I understand that a continued delay is very painful for our local businesses. But ultimately, I believe that the sooner we can get them back to regular operations, the better it will be for them and for their customers.”
Click Here to read Supervisor Letourneau’s full Phase I update.