Northern Virginia could enter Phase 1 of reopening this week

Northern Virginia could transition to Phase One of reopening later this week, joining the rest of the state in easing coronavirus restrictions.

In a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam, regional officials said their jurisdictions have met four of the critical benchmarks for moving to Phase One. These include a decrease in the percentage of positive tests over 14 days, a decrease in hospitalizations, increased testing, and adequate hospital beds and intensive care capacity.

The two criteria that have not been met are increased contact tracing capacity and increased, sustainable supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Per the letter, “jurisdictions have been making preparations to support a transition into Phase 1 at midnight on May 28th.”

The letter was signed by the leaders of Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties, as well as officials from the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Vienna and Middleburg.

“My colleagues and I have provided this information to the Governor and look forward to hearing his decision based on that data,” said Jeff McKay, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman,  in a statement Monday.

McKay said that officials are finalizing a contract this week to provide recruitment and staffing for hundreds of contact tracers. And there are sufficient supplies of PPE for hospitals, he said, but officials are working to increase that for other areas, and they hope Northam can help.

“We appreciate the increased testing capacity the Commonwealth has provided for our region and realize that your assistance with testing and tracing in the future will be important to assist us as we move into subsequent phases,” the letter said.

The latest assessment of the Forward Virginia metrics was conducted by health departments in each Northern Virginia jurisdiction on Sunday. Forward Virginia is a phased effort to reopen the state slowly and methodically so as not to cause a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Northern Virginia leaders said they would like to start Phase 2 of Forward Virginia at the same time as the rest of the commonwealth, when that date is set.

Much of the commonwealth entered Phase One on May 15, while Northern Virginia stayed in what is called Phase Zero and continued restrictions in place beforehand.

And they would like the governor to establish “distinct, accelerated availability” of services immediately for Virginians with mental health diagnoses, particularly veterans.

There was a spike in coronavirus cases reported Monday in Northern Virginia, but it’s been attributed to maintenance on the state Health Department’s website.

D.C. also saw a setback over the weekend with an increase in coronavirus cases, but Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that the District is back on track, which could lead to the area reopening by the end of the week.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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