Governor Working With Northern Virginia to Delay Phase 1 Reopening

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he is coordinating with leaders in Northern Virginia to delay when the region implements Phase 1 plans to reopen the state.

County and city officials from the region submitted a joint letter to the governor Sunday about concerns that the area is not ready to reopen.

Northam said at a news conference Monday that he has been in contact with officials in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Prince William County about what they are seeing.

The criteria that need to be met in order to reopen was part of the Forward Virginia blueprint. It required a downward trend of positive tests and hospitalizations over a 14-day period, increased testing and contact tracing, enough hospital beds and intensive care capacity, and an increasing and sustainable supply of personal protective equipment.

Leaders in Northern Virginia say they have not met those thresholds.

"We are in our peak or reaching our peak right now. So, to open up on Friday, when we are in the middle of our peak, from a health perspective, does not seem to be the right thing to do," Loudon County Board Chair Phyllis Randall told News4.

The governor said that although the state overall is moving toward meeting the reopening criteria, Northern Virginia is not there yet. Based on the most recent data, the region reported 700 additional cases in the past day. The rest of the state collectively reported fewer than 300.

Business owners in Northern Virginia fear what the future will look like if they continue operating under current conditions. Phil Fust, the owner of Loudon Brewing Company, thinks the state needs to reopen sooner than later.

"I know others think we need to wait. I think we need to start smart and embrace it. It's going to be the new normal, but lets start working through it," Fust said.

Northam responded to the joint letter by saying he is willing to work on a slower Phase 1 plan given concerns about Northern Virginia. He said there would be more information Wednesday about a timeline and specific details for a delay to Phase 1 for Northern Virginia.

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