Local Commentary

Editorial: Bracing for The Surge

Following on the remarkable virtual meeting of the Falls Church School Board last week, the Falls Church City Council followed suit with its own lengthy virtual online meeting this Monday, with everyone plugged in via the internet to carry out vital business of the City as the terrible coronavirus pandemic sweeps over the globe, bringing mass illness and death in its wake.

Only a few weeks into the more severe restrictions on social distancing that have been put in place in most places, citizens of all ages are confronted with the radical changes to their lives, their families and their communities even as this historic scourge is far from having run its course. If there is any silver lining to an unprecedented situation like this, it has to be the new and more passionate ways that people are willing to help others in any of the ways they can. There should be no sugar coating of the situation, but there can be powerful expressions of love, empathy and compassion that arise from it.

The strongest wave of the virus’ spread has not yet hit this area. Still, numbers of new infections and deaths are steadily rising, despite the very serious efforts at the kind of social distancing measures key to restricting its spread at this point. We are deeply saddened by the news last week of the passing of the mother of Falls Church’s City Manager Wyatt Shields as an early victim of this cruel pandemic, and we know without a doubt that the entire Falls Church community shares this sentiment and holds its deepest sympathies for Mr. Shields and his family. While Mr. Shields, as a precaution, put himself into a voluntary quarantine as a consequence of even an only indirect contact with his mother in her final days, he’s continued to bravely and importantly remain in his critical leadership role in this community, and played his usual extensive, central role in the meeting of the Falls Church City Council last Monday night.

While the Council under his leadership deftly addressed the most pressing issues before it at this point, the conversation pointed toward a largely unknown yet certainly challenging future, including onset of the worst yet to come from the virus itself and the longer-term consequences of the necessary shutdown of the economy as we brace for the virus’ surge to peak here.

Yet, it is heartening that even in the midst of this terrible storm, a lot of the City’s work is continuing to get done. As we report in this edition, all of the remarkable array of development projects continue to be built, from the Founders Row to the library renovation, the considerable transportation projects at either end of the City and ongoing planning for the City’s West End project and, this week, the resubmission of the Insight Group’s latest plans for Broad and Washington, and still more.

Our spirit shall not be broken.