- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said that leaders in Northern Virginia were “following the data” in determining not to move into Phase 1 of the reopening plan with the rest of the state.

The city of Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, which make up most of Northern Virginia and all border either the District of Columbia or Maryland, have the state’s worst coronavirus case numbers. Local leaders told Mr. Northam in a letter that they weren’t ready to enter Phase 1 of reopening until at least May 29.

“We haven’t set any particular timeline,” the Democratic governor said. “We will continue to follow that daily. We will be in communication with those (local) leaders, and when they are comfortable, and when the data supports a movement into Phase 1, we will do so.”

Virginia reported 32,908 total cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, with 3,979 hospitalizations and 1,074 deaths, out of an estimated population of 8.5 million. Fairfax County alone made up roughly one-quarter of those victims with 8,163 cases, along with 302 deaths.

Most of the state entered the first phase of an economic reopening on May 15, though a statewide state of emergency remains in effect through June 10.

Phase 1 in Virginia allows places of worship and nonessential retail establishments — including restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, barbershops and salons — to open at 50 percent capacity.

Mr. Northam also said he did not have a timeline in mind for when to move Virginia into Phase 2 of the reopening plan.

“The earliest would be two weeks from when we went into Phase 1,” he said. “But again, we’re following the different metrics that we’ve outlined previously. But I haven’t set a specific time to make that announcement yet.”

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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