When might Virginia be able to *start* to ease COVID-19 restrictions? I know, we’d all like it to be tomorrow – or hell, yesterday! – but obviously we don’t want to screw up everything we’ve accomplished, via the strict social distancing and other measures we’ve taken the past couple months. So when can Virginia start to ease COVID-19 restrictions in a responsible manner?
On Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam released his “Forward Virginia” blueprint, which is “informed by diverse health and business stakeholders, includes testing, tracing, and PPE priorities,” and which outlines “key benchmarks Virginians can expect in the first phase, which will begin no sooner than two weeks from now to allow for a 14-day downward trend in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.” So keep an eye on the confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations numbers, and look for when they start trending downwards for two weeks. Then, Virginia can probably move into “phase 1” of the gradual reopening process.
Also, check out the IHME model, which last Wednesday released estimates “of when states may be able to consider easing currently implemented social distancing policies if – and only if – strong containment measures already have been instituted.” So, yes, these estimates are contingent upon states implementing strong containment measures. But assuming that, when might Virginia “begin to relax social distancing?” According to IHME (see graphic, below), and also NPR (see graphic, below), we’re talking about June 4 for DC/Maryland/Virginia, or about six weeks from now. This compares to some of the earliest states – Hawaii, Montana, Alaska, West Virginia, Vermont, North Carolina, Maine, Ohio – with estimated “begin to relax social distancing” dates in the first two weeks of May. And, unfortunately, it puts Virginia towards the end of the list…a few days before Texas and South Carolina. So, stay patient I guess, and keep up the COVID-19 mitigation measures, because what else can we do, really?