Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a phased-in plan for easing pandemic-related restrictions, beginning this week. But we won’t be taking part. Here in Northern Virginia, the number of cases is still rising. We have nearly 1,500 in Alexandria alone. One of the criteria for beginning the reopening process is that the numbers have to have been dropping for two weeks. So the local governments banded together and requested a waiver. Northam, being a doctor himself (also, not being insane, unlike a certain White House resident) granted it. So we are still in shutdown mode, at least until the end of the month. But probably longer, unless the numbers start dropping fast.
Sure, remaining on shutdown is depressing and inconvenient — and financially devastating, for many families. And it’s wreaking havoc on the economy. But I believe it’s necessary. In fact, I’m afraid that reopening the rest of the state might be premature, but I haven’t seen detailed numbers for the rest of the state. In any case, schools all over the state remain closed for the rest of the school year. The phased-in plan seems like a good one. There will be major limitations in Phase 1, with only some businesses opening, and a lot of social distancing in place.
Unfortunately, even here in Northern Virginia, some people are ignoring the restrictions. I saw a large group standing outside a church in Del Ray yesterday. Some were in a well-spaced line to get inside. But the rest were crowded around the yard and parking lot. Most were wearing masks, but some were not. And the news showed footage from Old Town Alexandria last night, with many people out and about. We need people to take this more seriously. And let’s see if the rest of the state follows the phased-in approach and doesn’t try for too much too soon.
Below is Friday’s update from the state health department. I live in the big dark clump at the top of the map. The bottom graph shows that cases are on the decrease, but that’s not true here in Northern Virginia.