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What’s Next: Virginia Reopening as Cases Hit Peak in Arlington

What’s Next with Nicole is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Congratulations to Takis Karantonis for his victory in the Arlington County Democrat’s special election nomination process. Takis is a longtime leader in our community having served as the executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, the president of his civic association, and is genuinely a person of good character. I will be proud to support him in the upcoming July 7th special election.

Fill out your absentee voting application here. Due to COVID-19 you may cite “my disability or illness” as your reason for voting by mail.

Governor’s Decision to Re-Open

COVID-19 cases in Arlington hit a peak just four days ago. There is no significant downward trend in Arlington or other northern Virginia jurisdictions such as Fairfax. While the number of statewide cases has begun to decrease in just the past week, we are not part of that collective improvement.

All of this as Virginia ranks #48th in the country for testing rates.

Governor Northam’s decision to reopen the state seems premature and potentially dangerous to us here in Arlington. On Wednesday, Northam seemed to backtrack by saying “If local governments, based on the situation in their own localities, feel that they need to maintain additional restrictions on gatherings or business operations we will allow that and work with the localities.”

If history is any indicator, Arlington had a very difficult time acting on its own accord to implement restrictions prior to the Governor’s order for closure. This is largely due to Virginia being a Dillon Rule state.

I hope the Governor’s office has learned from that disconnect and will be responsive to local government’s requests for authority. If localities such as Arlington decide to implement their own restrictions, I hope the Governor is vocal in relaying that information in his public statements to make it clear what the rules are for various jurisdictions are to the public.

Nicole Merlene is an Arlington native and former candidate for Virginia State Senate. She has served as a leader in the community on the boards of the Arlington County Civic Federation and North Rosslyn Civic Association, as an Arlington Economic Development commissioner, in neighborhood transportation planning groups, and as a civic liaison to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

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