Leesburg Leaders Hear Latest COVID-19 Update

The Leesburg Town Council received its latest update Tuesday night on the impact of the coronavirus on the county seat.

On the planning side, decisions loom for town government leaders on when to reopen certain town facilities, including the Thomas Balch Library and Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, both of which have been closed for almost two months. Emergency Management Coordinator Joe Dame said, since the latter facility is considered a fitness center, that opening is on hold. This week, Gov. Ralph Northam delayed the Northern Virginia region, of which Loudoun County is a part, move to the phase one reopening until at least May 29. Even in that phase, fitness centers are to remain closed, with outdoor fitness classes only. 

Also to be considered is whether Leesburg will be able to host its summer camps and programs at Ida Lee, and whether some of its popular summer special events, particularly its July 4 parade and fireworks and August’s Taste of Leesburg, will go on as scheduled. Dame said town staff is “getting a sense” of what others are doing in the region as they decide how to proceed.

    Much of the council’s focus on Tuesday was on data shared by Loudoun County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend, who participated in the meeting remotely. He said increasing testing capacity and access to testing remains a top focus of his department, along with how to keep senior citizens, particularly those living in long-term care facilities, safe. 

    On testing, he reported that, as of this week, two Leesburg urgent care facilities, MetroMed and Patient First, would be providing COVID-19 testing. However, barriers to testing persist, particularly for those who are uninsured or underinsured, he said. While the federal government has pushed for fees for testing to be waived, some facilities still require a doctor exam prior to administering a test, which can incur its own cost.

    Several council members pressed Goodfriend on the data and whether the existing stay-at-home order was effective. He insisted the order, along with residents practicing social distancing and wearing face masks, was helping to keep the number of cases down.

    “That’s what’s flattened the curve. When you have a flat curve it’s hard to see improvement, but a flat curve is a significant improvement of where we thought we’d be. When we have 30 to 40 cases a day [in the county] it’s unfortunate. When we have several folks die a week that’s very unfortunate. But it’s significantly less than where we would’ve been if folks didn’t take these steps,” Goodfriend said.

    Mayor Kelly Burk reiterated a position she said she has previously shared with Goodfriend.

    “It would’ve been so helpful for Leesburg to have its own data,” she said, to identify coronavirus hotspots.

    Town Manager Kaj Dentler will return to the council in two weeks with updated fiscal impact information. Tuesday, he said current estimates put revenue losses to the town government at around $600,000 for the third quarter of fiscal year 2020.

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