Fluvanna takes on phase 1 reopening of economy

By Page H. Gifford

In Fluvanna, when the state’s economy re-opened with phase I on May 15, the county had 79 total cases of COVID-19, 21 people hospitalized, and six deaths.

Most of the cases are concentrated in northern Virginia, the Virginia Beach area, and around Richmond. Overall, Virginia is holding its own during the pandemic and remaining stable but Gov. Ralph  Northam is cautious about moving too fast..

“I think the governor’s doing a good job of keeping Virginia safe and by not re-opening certain counties in northern Virginia based on the number of cases,” said Mo Cahill, a frequent customer at Cuppa Joe’s.

Phase I of the governor’s plan for Virginians has reduced the order from  “shelter at home” to the less restrictive  “safer at home.” The plan also calls for salons to open for one-on-one appointments only and allows restaurants to offer outdoor dining at 50 percent of its normal capacity, though social distancing is still required. Curbside take-out and delivery can continue. Retail stores can operate  at 50 percent of their normal capacity and workers must wear masks. Cuppa Joe’s is continuing with the ten person or less rule and with social distancing inside the cafe. People are welcome to sit outside and take-out orders are never a problem.

“We have expanded our hours from 8 am. to 5 pm. But take no large groups at this time,” said manager Hannah Youngblood. The cafe usually hosts large groups of people for meetings or after church gatherings, book clubs, and knitting groups. But Cuppa Joe’s has been seeing more regulars trickle back in.  And Tropic Tan next door opened by appointment on Friday when phase  I was rolled out.

“I was in town (Charlottesville)at Dick’s Sporting Goods and they are only allowing 20 people in at a time. If one to two came out then one or two can go in,” said Michael Jordan. Cosco had been doing this at the height of the pandemic.

Kristel Townsend of EXP Realty says business is steady with sales and closings and now she is doing property management. But she is concerned with how the black community will fare through this next phase since they have been hit the hardest by the pandemic throughout the U.S. Like any business she is all for getting the economy going but not at the price of more lives being lost to the pandemic.

Mark Youseff sides with those who want to re-open but also with those who err on the side of caution.

“It would be nice to stay at home but it’s not realistic and I think the governor has failed and not stepped up enough. People’s backs are up against the wall. When we open though, we should also be cautious.”

Some agree with Youseff and Jordan added that non-essential places people gather including movie theaters, concerts, casinos, and sports arenas are not necessary at this time. He understands they have a bottom line to watch but it is not worth putting so many lives at risk when it is not necessary.

Artist Tom Tartaglino agreed but his wife Jill thinks it is too soon to open. Jerry Patchen agrees with her.

“You have to be cautious, test, and have contact tracing in place,” Pachen said.

Virginia will be receiving $650 million in federal aid but even with federal aid and the re-opening of the economy some businesses may never recover. Cities have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus and shifts in the economy that had been taking place — such as more automated cashiers in stores and threats to mom and pops up and down main street  may become a harsh reality. But Fluvanna is not a city so only time will tell where we go from here and where we finally end up.

Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information on the governor’s phase 1 plan.

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