Officials in Northern Virginia are urging Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to use regional benchmarks for reopening, rather than only statewide statistics.
In a letter on Sunday, officials from Alexandria as well as Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties asked Northam to delay the implementation of the first phase of his “Forward Virginia” plan in northern Virginia until the regional thresholds are met.
Statewide, these benchmarks are expected to be reached on May 15. But officials said Northern Virginia, with its 2.5 million residents, will not be at the same level. The area, just outside of Washington, D.C., represents almost one-third of Virginia’s population, but half of the state’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, they added.
“We eagerly wish to rebuild our economy and help our residents recover. 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 local elected officials wrote.
The letter included a memo from local public health directors to the state health commissioner, advising that Northern Virginia has not met the conditions to reopen outlined in the governor’s statewide plan.
The local health directors’ analysis determined that the region has not met the governor’s conditions for a 14-day downward trend in hospitalizations, increased tracing and increasing and sustainable personal protective equipment.
The officials also said they could not assess based on current data whether the region has met the thresholds for a 14-day downward trend in positive cases, increased testing and having enough hospital beds and intensive care capacity.
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