Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax says 'swifter' COVID-19 response needed in Virginia
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The District, Maryland, and Virginia may not be far apart geographically, but officials are taking different approaches when it comes to combatting the novel coronavirus crisis, leading to calls for Virginia to fall in-line.
“We need to be bolder and swifter in the actions that we are taking,” Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax told FOX Thursday evening. He’d expressed the same sentiment in a letter sent to Governor Ralph Northam.
Among other requests, Fairfax said Virginia should “join Maryland and the District of Columbia and mandate a ban on all public mass gatherings,” while also mandating “the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms and theaters,” again, like Maryland and D.C.
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“We’ve got to take these other measures though, to act together as a region, and that’s what our letter was all about,” Fairfax explained.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has also chimed in, telling FOX 5 Wednesday, “I think it would be a good step ... if we really need to shut down this community transmission, we’re all in this together and we’ve got to work together as a team.”
But so far Northam isn’t biting, instead, he's limiting the number of customers in restaurants, theaters, and gyms to 10.
“We’re not making any changes to our policy,” Northam said Thursday.
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Some medical professionals disagree with the approach.
“Especially in this current epidemic, the states have a huge responsibility to how they respond to it,” Johns Hopkins Internal Medicine Resident Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu said. He added that regardless of steps taken by Maryland and DC, because Virginia is so close, not taking the same steps can have an adverse effect on the whole region.
“In the short term, if you’re serious about preventing the spread of this virus, we have to take these steps,” he said.
Northam didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. In a statement sent to media outlets, a spokesperson said Northam will continue to make decisions in the best interest of Virginians.