Loudoun Leaders Outline New Plans to Limit Coronavirus Spread

Beginning Monday, dozens of county-run programs will come to a halt in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Loudoun County leaders convened Saturday to announce a new set of measures aimed to keep residents from coming into close contact with each other. County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) announced that beginning Monday, March 16, the county would cancel all senior center activities, suspend all programs at libraries; limit community center activities to those that enable social distancing; close all county-run child care and preschool programs and after school activities; and cancel all Board of Supervisors advisory board and commission meetings during the time Loudoun County Public Schools is out—until at least Friday, March 27.

Randall said department directors are developing emergency staffing plans to limit the number of employees required to report to their physical locations and that all nonessential travel for county government employees is also cancelled through April 1.

“We believe these steps are prudent at this time,” Randall said. “We base our decisions on the facts and the science around COVID-19.”

While all senior center activities will be cancelled, Randall said the county’s Congregate Meals program would continue to function. She said senior centers would be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accommodate that program. Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R-Dulles) said the county would provide meal delivery to those seniors who are unable to make it out.

“It would not be wise to close our senior centers and not feed seniors,” Randall said, noting that seniors are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 than most. “We want to feed them and we want to observe them on a daily basis.”

Activities at the county’s recreational and community center programs will also be limited to those that promote social distancing, meaning all contact activities will be cancelled. Programming intended for older adults will also be cancelled. Cleaning of the centers will be increased.

In Loudoun libraries, all programs will be cancelled from March 16 to March 29, although all libraries will remain open during their normal hours to provide internet access to those without it.

County-run preschool, child care programs and all after-school programs, such as CASA and YAS, will be cancelled during the time the school system remains closed—through at least March 27.

The Board of Supervisors’ advisory boards and commissions will also not meet during that time.

Whole county bus service will continue to operate, those who operate the service will be instructed to follow social distancing measures, as will those who work to provide mental health and social services in Loudoun.

Randall said the county “strongly encourages” social events, organizers and faith communities to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Virginia Department of Health guidelines for gatherings.

The plans to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Loudoun come in response to the pandemic and this week’s announcement that Loudoun had three presumptive positive cases of the virus.

When asked about those individuals’ conditions, Loudoun County Health Department Director David Goodfriend said the third individual is still hospitalized and the first two were “doing well.”

In noting that the school system would remain closed through at least March 27, Superintendent Eric Williams said that doesn’t mean the county has plans as of yet to re-open schools March 30.

Students have been out of school since March 16. Spring break is scheduled for April 6-10. When asked about the time amount of time students will have been out of school by that point, Williams said the school system is focused on “student safety, staff safety and broader community safety.” He said the school system would provide alternative learning opportunities for students, which will not be intended to satisfy the state’s seat-time requirements.

Williams said beginning Monday, the school system would set up a hotline operating from 1-5 p.m. on Monday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday thereafter.

Randall said there is no evidence of community transmission of coronavirus in Loudoun at this time, but that county leaders anticipate more cases will be identified as time goes on. She noted that the situation would most likely change, even as early as later today, and that the county staff is monitoring it on an hourly basis.

She said all residents play a role in public health, which is to stop the spread of any germs, whether it’s that of COVID-19, the flu or the common cold. Randall urged residents to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, cough and sneeze in their arms or tissues and stay home if they’re sick.

“You’re doing no one any good to come to work sick,” she said.

Go to loudoun.gov/coronavirus to learn more about virus protection. Get updates by texting “LCCOVID19” to 888777, by calling 703-737-8300 or emailing health@loudoun.gov.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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