I hope people are wondering why the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors would agree with other leaders in northern Virginia to send a message to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) asking him to pause Phase 1 of the plan to finally begin reopening businesses and places of worship.
Last weekend, after Northam teased quarantine-weary Virginians with the prospect of restoring some of their freedom, he also advised regional elected officials to send him recommendations on whether their progress, or lack of progress, might warrant a delay. That was the question put to various northern Virginia officials who did a virtual huddle with Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) members – all who have COVID-19-resistant incomes – and the commission's executive director, Bob Lazaro, former Purcellville mayor.
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D) represented Loudoun. After bouncing the question around their echo chamber, Randall did what commissions love to do: agree. Chairwoman Randall came back to the Loudoun board with the recommendation that Loudoun speak in unity with the rest of the region in asking Northam to prolong the business-crushing, church-closing lockdown.
On a 6-3 vote, the Board of Supervisors agreed. But why? Bipartisan opposition to the delay came from Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin), Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg). (Republican Matt Letourneau of the Dulles District joined five Democrats in supporting the measure.)
Let’s connect some dots, but first, some Loudoun COVID-19 data. According to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, data from the Virginia Department of Health reports Loudoun County COVID deaths at 7.3 per 100,000 people – fewer deaths per capita than Virginia overall. Northern Virginia’s reported COVID-19 death rate is 16.6 per 100,000 people. In simple terms, Loudoun County is in better shape that Virginia overall – and far better than northern Virginia – but Randall sent a letter informing me that Loudoun wants more lockdown while offering no logic or reasoning for this decision.
Remember, nothing in politics is accidental, so always look for a motive. The two favorites are usually political power and money, and that’s no different here. Chairwoman Randall is more loyal to her Trump-hating Democrat buddies from northern Virginia than to the people and local businesses who are desperate for relief. Church services have also been banned for several weeks and were hoping Phase 1 relief would get them going, but that’s not happening now that Randall has gotten her way. If there is another reason, I invite her to share what it is.
Stimulus money is another likely factor. Just like the individual who is incentivized to stay unemployed by generous unemployment checks, northern Virginia governments are quite fond of the bailouts coming from Washington. Fairfax County favors prolonging the shut down at least in part because it will be better positioned for the balance of Cares Act money and for Stimulus 4 if it materializes. Under those circumstances, any cash-strapped government would be tempted to stay on the disabled list.
Who loses? Hard-working people, that’s who. Families may get a check or two to hold them over, but the stress will build and, in some cases, lead to desperation and anxiety that can further lead to broken families, drug abuse, suicide, domestic violence and financial ruin. All this proves some elected officials forget they take an oath to uphold the Constitution, which by design should protect life, liberty, and property, not destroy it.
Loudoun is doing far better than the rest of northern Virginia and Virginia. Message to Chairwoman Randall: “Forget the politics and remember the people. Reopen Loudoun without unnecessary delay.”
State Del. Dave LaRock, a Republican, represents the 33rd House District, which includes northwest Loudoun County and parts of Clarke and Frederick counties. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 540-751-8364.