CHEVY CHASE, Md. - Governors in both Maryland and Virginia have said they may take some steps toward reopening as soon as this week. But leaders in both Northern Virginia and Maryland’s D.C. suburbs are saying, “Not so fast.”
County and city leaders both say their regions are just not ready to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic – in contrast to some of the less densely populated regions of their states.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich says, point blank, he will not open up his county on the Governor’s timeline.
Elrich joined Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in saying their areas are too densely populated and have been hit too hard to begin the first phase of opening this week.
Governor Larry Hogan has already given localities the authority to open on their own timelines.
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties say they will let their local health officials tell the when it’s safe to reopen.
Elrich is also encouraging Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to do the same in his state.
“I will hope that Northam grants the same degree of latitude to their local jurisdictions that Hogan so far has indicated that he will grant us. We need to make local decisions are based on local conditions,” Elrich said.
In Northern Virginia, leaders from Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun and Arlington counties – along with the city of Alexandria – sent a letter to Northam asking him to consider a slower timeline for their regions.
Northam says he could begin his phased reopening plan by Friday.
The Northern Virginia officials say the metrics the governor has laid out – like two weeks of declining percentages of positive COVID-19 cases and declines in hospitalizations aren’t being met.
Northam did suggest last week that it may take longer to ease restrictions in NoVa.
So any reopening in the greater DC area could be a patchwork determined by conditions on the ground in local areas.