This Week in Coronavirus in Fairfax County

Virginia surpasses 25,000 cases; Phase I being discussed while numbers of cases and deaths continue to rise.

Tuesday, May 12

Northern Virginia Is Different

Fairfax County Chairman Jeff McKay, Arlington County Board Libby Garvey and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson made a difference: Northern Virginia numbers are different during this pandemic.

Gov. Ralph Northam issued Executive Order Sixty-Two on Tuesday, May 12, allowing specific localities in Northern Virginia to delay entering Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan to ease restrictions.

“While the data show Virginia as a whole is ready to slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, it is too soon for Northern Virginia. I support the request from localities in this region to delay implementation of Phase One to protect public health,” said Northam.

Virginia as a whole may enter Phase One on Friday, May 15, based on achieving certain health metrics, he said.

“I appreciate the Governor’s decision to rely on professional data and metrics provided by our Health Directors and delay Phase I of his Forward Virginia plan in Northern Virginia,” said McKay. “Northern Virginia is a united front, we will continue to track the statistics because we all want to reopen our economy as soon as possible based on public safety and data.”

“I thank the Governor for his ... recognition that Northern Virginia is still not ready to reopen,” said U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly. “The federal government must act with similar caution when reopening federal workplaces and maximum telework must continue.”

Monday, May 11, 2020

Fairfax County Cases: 6,200

Virginia Cases: 25,070

United States Cases: 1,300,696

Fairfax County Deaths: 243

Virginia Deaths: 850

United States Deaths: 78,771

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) posts data regarding COVID-19 impacts to personnel every week. This week, 16 FCFRD personnel have tested positive for COVID-19, 10 have tested positive and recovered, and six are currently COVID-19 positive. All personnel are closely monitored by a nurse at Fairfax County’s Occupational Health Center. Currently, 18 members are currently in quarantine, in addition to the personnel who tested positive for COVID-19.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Fairfax County Cases: 5,892

Virginia Cases: 24,081

Fairfax County Deaths: 239

Virginia Deaths: 839

The top elected officials of the five largest localities in Northern Virginia sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam, supporting his “Forward Virginia” reopening plan in general but urging him to implement it for Northern Virginia only once regional threshold metrics have been met. Although the metrics appear likely to be met for Virginia overall by May 15, this does not appear to be the case for Northern Virginia. The 2.5 million residents of the City of Alexandria and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William represent nearly a third of the population of Virginia and half of the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“We eagerly wish to rebuild our economy and help our residents recover,” wrote Chairman Jeff McKay of Fairfax County, along with others. “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 Forward Virginia plan requires 1) a downward trend of positive test results over a period of 14 days; 2) a downward trend of hospitalizations over a period of 14 days; 3) sufficient hospital beds and intensive care capacity; 4) increasing and sustainable supply of personal protective equipment such as masks, respirators, gloves and gowns; and 5) increased testing and tracing. According to analysis by the region’s public health directors, none of the five metrics for Northern Virginia have been achieved, or cannot be determined based on currently available data.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Fairfax County Cases: 5,610

Virginia Cases: 23,196

Fairfax County Deaths: 230

Virginia Deaths: 827

Friday, May 8, 2020

Fairfax County Cases: 5,338

Virginia Cases: 22,342

Fairfax County Deaths: 227

Virginia Deaths: 812

EARLY GRADUATION, ON TO PANDEMIC: Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department accelerated the graduation of 53 new firefighters and paramedics to augment the department’s pandemic response. Recruit Class 146 will begin working at their first fire stations on May 9, 2020, one day after their swearing in ceremony.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Fairfax County Cases: 5.045

Virginia Cases: 21,570

Virginia Deaths: 769

PANDEMIC WILL CONTINUE: Fairfax County’s Health Department gave warning after Gov. Northam announced more details on his Forward Virginia Blueprint to reopen the Commonwealth. Northam announced on May 4 that he expects that the first phase for reopening businesses and workplaces will begin on Friday, May 15.

The overall, statewide reopening plans are anticipated to be rolled out in three phases, the governor said. Each phase is expected to last about two to three weeks consistent with CDC guidelines.

“We are still in the exponential growth phase of our epidemic curve – that means that COVID-19 cases in our health district continue to increase,” according to the Fairfax County health department. “For now we can still expect to see growth in cases, hospitalizations and unfortunately, deaths.” Significant community-wide transmission still is happening in the Fairfax health region, especially in congregate settings like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where clusters of cases can occur quickly.

The Virginia Black Caucus wrote to Gov. Northam calling for overtime, hazard pay and paid sick leave for essential workers; access to PPE and free testing for essential workers; to bolster safety of food supply during the crisis.

SCALE UP PRODUCTION: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and seven other senators to tell President Trump it is imperative that the federal government fully use its authority to support and expand production of personal protective equipment and testing supplies.

“An analysis by Harvard University researchers found that the United States must, at minimum and under the best-case scenario, double the number of tests being conducted each week,” wrote the Senators.

“From the outset of the pandemic, the United States has been dogged by testing shortages and supply chain issues—and Virginia is among the states where that testing shortage has been most severe,” according to Warner. Sen. Warner has been outspoken about the need for a cohesive, national coronavirus testing strategy and has fought to secure additional funding for coronavirus testing—including $8 million for Virginia.

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and 30 other senators urged Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to reject politically motivated conditions on financial relief for the U.S. Postal Service. The senators also expressed their strong opposition to the use of coronavirus as a pretext to pursue privatization of the United States Postal Service, which is unpopular with the American people. The senators called the postal service a critical lifeline for many Americans, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CASH THROUGHOUT: Virginia Rep. Don Beyer and Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA-04) sent a letter to House Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy with recommendations on how to provide Americans with direct cash support throughout the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis.

“So many Americans need help right now, and Congress must not fail them. This is not a time to hold back – leaving people at the mercy of this crisis would be immoral and would hurt, not help, the broader economy,” said Rep. Beyer. “We should make [payments] rapidly and get assistance to those who need it, especially the millions worried about making their rent payments or buying food." They emphasize the importance of ensuring all adults and all dependents receive payments, including getting payments out to those who were left out of the last disbursement. “These payments are a necessary vehicle to help American families weather this economic crisis.”

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM: U.S. Reps. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) and Don Beyer (VA-08) unveiled a proposal to improve the newly created Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP, created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides forgivable loans to cover up to eight weeks of payroll and related expenses. However, structural and regulatory issues have hobbled the program, making it difficult for many small businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, to use the loans effectively. The Paycheck Protection Program Improvement Proposal provides dedicated funding for the smallest businesses and prevents publicly traded companies from receiving PPP funding; provides more clarity and flexibility for loan forgiveness and payroll requirements; allows small businesses to spread out payroll payments over a longer period; provides $660 billion for the PPP program overall, with amounts reserved for businesses with fewer employees, including; provides banks increased processing fee incentives for the smallest loans and lowers fees banks receive for processing the largest loans.

During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine pressed Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), on the Trump Administration’s response to the coronavirus and the differences in the death toll in the United States and in South Korea. He asked Dr. Collins why South Korea’s death toll increased from 28 on March 3 to 256 today while the United States’ death toll increased from 9 to 74,665 in that same time period.

“The numbers are large, but we can’t forget that each one is a tragedy,” said Kaine.

Wednesday, May 6

Fairfax County Cases: 5,016

Following Governor Northam’s easing of stay-at-home restrictions in the state, County Supervisor Chair Jeff McKay, Loudoun County Chair Randall, Prince William County Chair Wheeler expressed the need to coordinate any future re-openings with Northern Virginia localities. “This is important, because we know a one-size-fits-all approach in the Commonwealth simply doesn’t work. We also communicated our desire to coordinate with D.C. and Maryland to avoid confusion for our residents and businesses,” said McKay.

“Just because there are parts of the economy re-opening, does not mean you should or have to go out. It will still be safer to stay home. As I noted last week, Fairfax County saw a spike in cases. We are in the exponential growth period of our epidemic curve and will see more cases and deaths in the coming weeks. I encourage you to not change what you are doing. We can't see our friends and go to concerts yet, that's the reality.”

NAVIGATING THE CRISIS: The Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance offers a series of webinars designed to help small businesses navigate the COVID-19 crisis. The next webinar is scheduled for Thursday, May 14th, at 2 p.m., and will offer guidance on how to keep your current customers, and find new ones, in the current economic climate. See https://www.novaeda.org/events/

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