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McKay Pushes for More Talks With Governor as Virginia Eyes Reopening

Fairfax County’s top official wants increased communication with Gov. Ralph Northam as the state administration considers easing business restrictions.

On Monday, Northam unveiled a three-phase plan to roll back restrictions, which could start as soon as May 15.

The next day, Jeff McKay, the chairman for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and the board chairs for Prince William and Loudoun counties sent a letter urging Northam’s administration to collaborate more with them.

More from the copy of the letter obtained by Tysons Reporter:

We proudly represent more than 2 million residents; just shy of a quarter of the population of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sadly, our three counties also account for 40 percent of all known positive cases and hospitalizations due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Commonwealth. Regionally, Northern Virginia equates for 40 percent of the Commonwealth’s GDP…

To that end, we write to you today to communicate our strong desire to be both briefed and consulted as your administration makes decisions about the reopening of the Commonwealth… We request a discussion with you prior to future announcements about the state’s reopening. This is not an attempt to slow our progress. Rather, a recognition of the need for greater collaboration between state and local governments.

Additionally, we request a weekly phone call between a member of your team and our chiefs of staff… In addition to the reopening, some of the topics our respective teams would like to cover include testing capacity, the acquisition of personal protective equipment, racial disparities, and the methodology used for the distribution of CARES Act funds.

Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) also chimed in this week, posting on Facebook today: “I agree with Chairman Jeff Mckay that Northern Virginia needs to be MUCH MORE cautious than other regions of Virginia in reopening our businesses due to the heightened and ongoing threats here.”

Northam said yesterday (Wednesday) that localities might be able to keep some restrictions as the state begins to reopen, WTOP reported. Now that the governor is poised to provide an update tomorrow (Friday) on localities’ input on the restrictions, McKay is repeating his request.

“Northam joined regional leaders on a call this afternoon to further outline his gradual plans for reopening Virginia,” McKay said in a statement to Tysons Reporter. “Though this won’t be a locality-by-locality decision, he has recognized the need to look at this issue regionally.”

McKay said that he again requested “continued open lines of communication to ensure coordination between our community, D.C., and Maryland, as well as the need for effective communication to businesses and our residents when a decision to reopen is made.”

Fairfax County continues to have the highest reported number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Virginia.

“We are still in the exponential growth phase of our epidemic curve – that means that COVID-19 cases in our health district continues to increase,” according to the county.

As of today, the county had more than 5,000 cases and 211 deaths, according to the state’s health department.

The county says that the high number of cases may be due to three factors: “significant community-wide transmission,” increased testing and the new inclusion of “probable” cases along with confirmed ones.

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