RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is delaying Northern Virginia’s reopening amid the coronavirus outbreak until at least May 29, two weeks after the rest of the state is expected to reopen.
Northam said Tuesday he's signed an executive order extending mandated closures and restrictions on businesses in northern Virginia, a heavily populated area where regional officials have said they are not yet ready to reopen.
The following localities will remain in Phase Zero:
- Arlington County
- Fairfax County
- Loudoun County
- Prince William County
- Falls Church
- Manassas Park
- The governor’s order also explicitly mentioned the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna will remain in Phase Zero.
Looking at Tuesday’s new coronavirus numbers, Northern Virginia is reporting 14,060 coronavirus cases, while Southwest Virginia is reporting 883 cases.
Obviously, the population of Northern Virginia is far higher than that of Southwest Virginia.
According to U.S. Census, using July 1, 2019 estimates,2,524,847 people call Northern Virginia home, while in Southwest Virginia, that number is 1,568,133.
So, looking at that data per 1,000 population:
- Northern Virginia currently has 5.57 cases per 1,000 population
- Southwest Virginia currently has 0.56 cases per 1,000 population
“As I have said, it’s important that the Commonwealth as a whole can meet key health metrics before moving into Phase One,” said Northam in a statement. “The Phase One policies are a floor, not a ceiling. While the data show Virginia as a whole is are 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.”
Northam ordered some businesses closed two months ago and his planned first phase of reopening will retain severe restrictions. Some retail businesses will reopen with limited capacity, but indoor gyms would remain closed, beaches would remain closed to sunbathers and restaurants would still be prohibited from indoor dine-in service.
Data shows that Northern Virginia is substantially higher than the rest of the Commonwealth in percentage of positive tests for COVID-19, for example.
The Northern Virginia region has about a 25 percent positivity rate, while the rest of the Commonwealth is closer to 10 percent, according to the governor’s office.
Further, in the last 24 hours, the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the Commonwealth reported approximately 270. On any given day, 70 percent of the Commonwealth’s positive cases are attributable to the Northern Virginia Region.