Editor: The year 2020 will go down in the history books as one of the most tumultuous years in recent history. In under 12 months we faced a 100-year pandemic that closed down the entire country, sickened over 9,000 Loudoun residents, and worst of all, claimed the lives of 138 of our Loudoun family. As a country, a commonwealth, and county we are experiencing a long overdue, nationwide reckoning on race that has brought thousands of Loudoun citizens of all ages to the streets to “march for justice.” Because of COVID we were forced to learn new ways to communicate, no longer face-to-face but via online platforms where the faces of our co-workers and loved ones are in little boxes that heretofore were reserved for members of “The Brady Bunch” family.
This year we have been required to learn phrases such as: “trace testing” and “cluster spread.” One year ago, these words were not part of our daily lexicon. In addition, tele-work, tele-health and tele-learning have brought into stark focus the absolute need for reliable broadband in the rural areas of our county. And of course, 2020 brought us a very unusual and divisive Presidential election where a full 55% of all Loudoun residents voted early-in-person or by mail.
Yes, it has been a tough year, but from my position as County Chair I’m very fortunate to have observed something else, something wonderful, almost magical about our county. I have seen businesses provide food to first responders and hospital staff, even as they struggle to meet their revenue goals. In record numbers Loudoun citizens have answered the call to join the Loudoun medical corps. People are checking on their older neighbors, dropping off food, and visiting through doors and windows. School cafeteria workers continue to prepare food for the students they love yet can’t see, and school bus drivers drop that food off to ensure all of our students have enough to eat. Our teachers have been heroes who are committed and determined to teach their littles (and their bigs) in ways they were never trained for. We now realize the term “essential worker” does not just apply to our incredible first responders and medical staff, who truly are heroes, but also to the teenager working at the local grocery store or the food delivery person who helps keep our restaurants revenue positive. At 99.6% Loudoun produced the best 2020 Census response rate in the Commonwealth of Virginia we are among the top 20 response rates in the country. The Loudoun Chamber and Visit Loudoun worked on the “We Are Ready” campaign focused on getting our businesses back to work in the safest environment possible. Finally, the willingness by most of you to wear a mask to protect not just yourselves others has been phenomenal and a clear message that although you may not know them, you care about the man, woman or child that you come in contact with.
Loudoun, this is who we are. In rough seas and calm waters, in joy and heartbreak, in tragedy and triumph, I truly believe we are the best county in the country. Together, we will not just survive, we will flourish.
As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your County Chair.
Phyllis Randall, Chair at Large