Northern Va. leaders urge Northam to reconsider reopening plan

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, top elected officials across Northern Virginia are asking Gov. Ralph Northam to adjust the Phase 1 reopening plan for Virginia, which could begin as soon as May 15, as they believe the region isn’t ready.

The officials sent a letter to Northam on Sunday.

They represent the 2.5 million residents of the city of Alexandria and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William.

That’s nearly a third of Virginia’s population and contain half of the commonwealth’s coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“We eagerly wish to rebuild our economy and help our residents recover,” wrote Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson along with Chairs Libby Garvey (Arlington County), Jeff McKay (Fairfax County), Phyllis Randall (Loudoun County) and Ann Wheeler (Prince William County).

“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,” the letter said.

During his briefing Friday, Northam said that the closure of Virginia and the stay-at-home order was the “one blunt tool” that the commonwealth had for fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is working — our health data shows us that,” Northam said. “Our hospitals have not been overwhelmed, and it bought us time to build up our toolbox.”

Sunday’s letter to Northam follows a letter by health directors from the same Northern Virginia jurisdictions sent to Virginia Health Commissioner Norman Oliver, stating the region itself will not meet the criteria set for Phase 1 — even if it can begin statewide — based on current data.

Phase 1 of Northam’s “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
  • Increased testing and contact tracing

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.

Virginia case numbers

Below is a list of the cases of COVID-19 in Virginia as of May 10, 2020, along with the amount increase from the day before:

Number of total cases*: 24,081 (+885)

COVID-19-related and probable deaths: 839 (+12)
Currently hospitalized, per VHHA: 1,555 (+16)
Recoveries**: 3,201 (+77)
Total number of tests: 157,957 (+7,005)

*includes positive test results and probable cases

**Confirmed COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized and have since been discharged, according to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

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Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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