For the fifth year running, and despite the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) declared Loudoun to be “strong” in her annual State of the County address May 20.
“As treacherous as this virus has been, it has also revealed something about us as Loudouners: we are a community of people who truly care about one another,” Randall said. “It has confirmed we are a county where teachers upend their lives to teach the students they care about in ways they weren’t trained for and using techniques they may have just thought of the night before. A county that seeks to protect our senior citizens and at-risk populations by volunteering to run errands, take them meals and call those who are isolated in their homes. A county that establishes social media groups with the sole purpose of offering support and encouragement during these uncertain times. And of course, a county where our hospital and medical staffs, first responders and essential workers put themselves on the line every day to offer indispensable and needed services.”
Randall ran through some of the actions the county Board of Supervisors has taken to address the pandemic, such as freezing spending and setting aside $100 million in reserves in the county budget, and authorizing a fund to provide grants to struggling small businesses.
The address—which under Randall is usually hours long and marked by pageantry such as guests, speeches and musical interludes—was simpler this year with social distancing measures in place. Instead of a crowd, Randall spoke to a handful of people in a locked boardroom at the county government center in Leesburg. If people wanted to watch it live, they had to see it on official county channels or the county Facebook page. The only guests were longtime legislative aide and current Chief of Staff to Supervisor Sylvia Russell Glass (D-Broad Run) Dorri O’Brien, who previously served under former Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn); and accomplished singer and songwriter Tracy Hamlin, who performs solo and writes lyrics and sings background for Gloria Gaynor.
The address also featured messages from graduating seniors at Loudoun’s high schools, who this year are missing much of their final year of high school with schools closed.
“Loudoun, I feel very secure in telling you the state of our county is caring, resilient, compassionate and strong,” Randall said. “Together, we will weather this storm.”