Podcast: County Executive Discusses COVID-19 Vaccine, Social Justice and Police Reform

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On the Dec. 18 episode of the “Connect with County Leaders” Podcast, Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill discussed COVID-19 and the arrival of a vaccine, provision of county programs and services during the coronavirus, social justice and police reform, the county’s budget, and he offered holiday and new year wishes to county residents and employees.

Fairfax County has continued to provide programs and services to county residents since COVID-19 began in the county. And while it has meant a transition to providing services in a manner different than what was normal, Hill noted pride in the county’s ability to provide “assistance from a distance.”

“We’ve continued to be at the forefront. We’ve pivoted in how we provided services” said Hill. “Because we all are developing new ways of providing the services that are needed to our county from a distance. But when we need to be face-to-face, we’re doing it in a safe manner and effective manner.”

Hill added, “I want to thank each and every one of our employees. We have 63% of our employees teleworking and doing the job as ‘assistance from a distance.’ But yet, I still believe there’s more that we can do when it comes to the technology side that we are just scratching the surface on. And I want to hopefully be ahead of the curve.”

The county executive noted that there is now a COVID-19 vaccine, but it will still be months before the majority of the general public will have the vaccine. When asked about the vaccine, and some in the community having reluctance to get the vaccine when available, Hill noted no hesitation to receiving it.

“I am going to tell you point blank, the minute Dr. Gloria [Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Fairfax Health Director] calls me and says ‘I have the vaccine for you, would you like to take it,’ I’ll run to get the vaccine. I’m taking it for the 1.2 million people in Fairfax County. My three boys and my mom, I am taking the vaccine for them. And I’m also taking it for every employee in Fairfax County, because I want us to get back to normal as quickly as we can.”

Regarding social justice and police reform, Hill stated that Fairfax County is currently going through a very robust process to hire a new police chief, a process he said that ensures that “community stakeholders have a voice on what qualities we’re looking for in a police chief.”

“It’s all about how we are going to continue to provide our citizens with the best service, a service that is a selfless service, a service that has empathy, and a service that has compassion to all of our residents. And that’s the biggest thing that I think that I would like to implore on our staff, as well as our communities, that we’re here to be selfless leaders. We’re not here to be autocratic, we’re here to help. And we’re here to move forward.”

The county executive also addressed the county budget. And while it’s too early for any details – Hill will present his proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors in February 2021 – the county executive did say that he thinks the county is “in a good place.”

Hill also added that Fairfax County represents 14% of the population of Virginia “but yet we’re 24% of the net wealth. If Richmond gave me to two cents more, just two cents more, I would have another $60 to $70 million on our budget. That stays in Richmond. Think about it, 14% of the population, 24% of the net wealth, and we get 22 cents on every dollar we send to Richmond.”

The county executive ended the podcast with well wishes for both residents and county employees.

“I want all the residents to have a happy and safe holiday season. Mask up, be safe, wash your hands, and know that Fairfax County is behind you. Our team is working very hard. The Board of Supervisors are providing you with great leadership as we’ve gone through this pandemic.”

Listen to past episodes of “ Connect with County Leaders.” For other Fairfax County podcasts, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/podcasts , and for additional audio content, tune in to Fairfax County Government Radio at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/radio .

The “Connect with County Leaders” podcast is a monthly opportunity to meet and connect with Fairfax County leaders, to learn about the latest county news and information, and hear more on specific Fairfax County programs and services.

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