The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted against a proposal to request that the governor close all places of social gathering during the coronavirus outbreak.
Algonkian Supervisor Juli Briskman (D) offered the measure that failed on a 3-6 vote.
If passed, the board would have sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) requesting the commonwealth order the closure of restaurants, gyms, bars, movie theaters and other places of social gatherings as result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Supervisors Sylvia Glass (D-Broad Run) and Mike Turner (D-Ashburn) joined Briskman in support of the request.
“We need to act now to stop the spread of the virus, and I think the only way that we can do that is by stopping people from gathering," Briskman said.
“I also believe that if 10 people can be in a bar that means 60 people will get [coronavirus] next," she added, speaking to the multiplying effect of the virus.
The Algonkian supervisor shared several projected figures with her colleagues regarding the spread of the virus and its impact on hospitals. Her request came on the same day that Northam announced a 10-patron limit in restaurants, fitness centers and theaters.
As of Wednesday midday, there were 77 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Virginia. Across the nation there have been more 7,600 coronavirus cases, including 117 deaths. Two of those deaths were in Virginia.
Northam on Tuesday recommended against non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people, and he urged Virginians aged 65 or older be under self-quarantine.
Loudoun supervisors questioned whether those efforts were enough. Outside of Virginia, multiple states have closed their restaurants or limited them to takeout. California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington are among those states.
Glass said, “I appreciate what Governor Northam has done with the changes that he's made today, but I'm still concerned that that's still not enough.”
Supervisors also questioned the enforcement of the 10-patron limit.
“The 10-person rule is completely unenforceable,” Turner said, “And who is going to enforce that? The health director? Well, the health director is a little busy these days. I'm sure he's not going to be enforcing the 10-person rule in restaurants."
Some supervisors felt it was unnecessary to take the actions Briskman proposed, noting the Northam administration is frequently taking mitigation measures.
Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington (R) said, “With what the governor has done in the meantime, I think we have an effective ban in place now, and to be honest, even without us doing anything, I think it might get to that point what you're talking about, or what your motion states within just a few days or a week.”
On Tuesday, the board spent nearly three hours listening to updates on the county’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the virus.
The board took several actions, including adopting the Resolution of Declaration of a Local Emergency that allows the county to more easily acquire goods or services needed to assist in the response to the virus.
The board also voted unanimously to delay the property tax deadline for the first installment of payments from May 5 to June 5.
The governor on Tuesday also announced support for affected workers, including no wait time for unemployment benefits and enhanced eligibility for unemployment. Lastly, the governor closed 75 Department of Motor Vehicle offices, suspended non-essential court proceedings and mandated that electric, natural gas and water companies suspend disconnections for 60 days.
Clarification: The headline of this story and the story itself has been updated to clarify that the Board of Supervisors were debating whether to send a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) requesting the governor close down all social gathering places.