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UPDATED: Northam issues stay-at-home order for Virginia residents

Mike Still • Mar 30, 2020 at 2:20 PM

RICHMOND - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has issued a stay-at-home order for all residents, citing projections for a surge in COVID-19 hospital cases in the next few weeks.

The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.

According to the Virginia Department of Health’s coronavirus monitoring website - http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/ - 25 people have died in the state since the first reported COVID-19 case on March 7. Out of a population of 8.54 million, 12,038 people have been tested in the state and 1,020 cases with 136 people hospitalized have been confirmed since March 7.

In the LENOSWISCO and Cumberland Plateau health districts in far Southwest Virginia, five counties and a city have not reported a confirmed COVID-19 case: Wise, Scott, Dickenson, Russell and Buchanan counties and Norton. Lee, Washington and Tazewell counties each have reported two cases, and Bristol Virginia has reported one case.

Northam said Virginians are asked to stay at home unless needing to get food or supplies, go to work or get fresh air or exercise. Virginia’s beaches are also closed to people unless they are fishing or getting exercise. All meetings of more than 10 people are banned, he said, and all institutions of higher learning are also prohibited from face-to-face on-campus meetings.

“You are being very, very selfish because you are putting all of us, especially health care workers, at risk,” Northam said of crowds of people at some Virginia beaches in recent days.

Northam’s order also extends to overnight stays at privately-owned campgrounds. Starting at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, all reservations will cease for overnight stays of less than 14 days at those sites.

Northam’s order allows people to leave their residences if they are:

- caring for people or animals

- visiting a family member

- seeking medical attention or essential government or social services

- seeking help from law enforcement

- traveling to comply with a court order or for child custody, child care or visitation

- traveling to and from one’s residence, work or place of worship

- traveling to and from an educational institution

- volunteering for charitable or social service groups

- engaging in outdoor activity, subject to social distancing requirements

- have a reasonable fear for health or safety, or at the direction of law enforcement

Restaurants can still remain open for take-out and delivery service only with the 10-person maximum occupancy limit still in effect.

All colleges and universities will stop in-person classes and instruction along with gatherings of more than 10 people, Northam ordered. He did not say if that order applies to private and religious institutions including Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Northam on Wednesday criticized Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr., for having students return to the university’s Lynchburg campus after spring break during the state’s COVID-19 emergency.

Northam said then that Falwell should look at how many other colleges and universities in Virginia have reacted to the COVID-19 emergency by closing campuses and dormitories except in limited cases for students whose only residence is campus or if returning to their homes poses a health risk to them.

Northam said state officials are discussing how the state COVID-19 emergency will affect local elections in May, and emergency and health officials are talking with the Army Corps of Engineers about possible emergency hospital construction across the state.

According to Northam, Virginia has about 18,500 licensed hospital beds – including 2,000 intensive care unit beds – across the state.

Northam cited three moves by state universities and health care companies to prepare for needed beds for COVID-19 victims. Mary Washington University has started construction of a field hospital on its campus, he said, while Virginia Commonwealth University is planning to convert a dormitory originally built as a hospital. Ballad Health has also designated Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap for COVID-19 cases, moving obstetric and non-COVID-19 case treatment to Norton Community Hospital.

“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

Virginia food banks will begin serving anyone needing access to food regardless of normal eligibility for food bank assistance, Northam said. More information can be found at vafoodbanks.org. He said that anyone with concerns about domestic violence can call the state family violence hotline at (800) 838-8238.

Full text of Northam’s emergency order 55: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-55-Temporary-Stay-at-Home-Order-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf

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2:32 p.m.

RICHMOND - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has issued a stay-at-home order for all residents, citing projections of a surge in COVID-19 hospital cases in the next few weeks.

The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.

Northam said Virginians are asked to stay at home unless needing to get food or supplies, go to work or get fresh air or exercise. Virginia’s beaches are also closed to people unless they are fishing or getting exercise. All meetings of more than 10 people are banned, he said, and all institutions of higher learning are also prohibited from face-to-face on-campus meetings.

“You are being very, very selfish because you are putting all of us, especially health care workers at risk,” Northam said of crowds of people at some Virginia beaches in recent days.

Restaurants can still remain open for take-out and delivery service only with the 10-person maximum occupancy limit still in effect.

“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

You can read the full text of the order here

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