NoVA Respond to Forward Virginia reopening plan

Leaders support reopening, but only once we can prove we are in a better place


Ben Pugh

May 10, 2020

NoVA Respond to Forward Virginia reopening plan

Back on April 24, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Forward Virginia, the official plan to reopen Virginia. It has been of much focus in the news ever since

Forward Virginia's Plan as it Stands

The plan proposes "a phased approach that is grounded in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and has specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increased testing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and medical capacity."

The five main metrics defined in the plan for phase one require:

  1. a downward trend of positive test results over a period of 14 days
  2. a downward trend of hospitalizations over a period of 14 days
  3. sufficient hospital beds and intensive care capacity
  4. increasing and sustainable supply of personal protective equipment such as masks, respirators, gloves and gowns
  5. increased testing and tracing

What's tricky is that the Forward Virginia plan talks about metrics on the statewide level, but Virginia is a large state, and different regions have been impacted by COVID19 differently. In particular, Northern Virginia faces some of the highest case counts within the state.

NoVA responds

On May 10, Fairfax, Arlginton, Loudon, Prince William, and Alexandria chair's wrote a signed letter to Governor Ralph Northam. Basically it addresses the concern that while some parts of Virginia might feel ready to be reopened, the metrics on a statewide level don't match the reality of Northern Virginia. For example, downard trends in statewide averages don't match the recent oscillations in Arlington and Fairfax.

As of May 10, when examining "Forward Virginia's" five phase one metrics on a regional basis, Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William's meet 0 of the 5 metrics

Where are we now

Our team is developing a mobile dashboard covering a regional view of Northern VA (and not just "Virginia" as a monolithic state). We will post an update here as soon as it's available. In the meantime, Virginia state datasets are available here.


While we are all eager to get "back to the way things were" it's important that we use data-based approaches to reopening our local economies. The letter to Governor Ralph Northam highlights an important nuance: larger averages don't apply to smaller areas. We will keep you updated as the situation evolves.

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Ben Pugh

Founder & CEO, RelayCare

Ben is a mathematician and self-taught full-stack software engineer.