Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday, March 30 his executive order urging all 8.5 million state residents to stay home and to not leave unless absolutely necessary as the threat of the novel coronavirus continues to spread. The stay-at-home order will remain in effect until Wednesday, June 10.
As of press time, there are currently 1,020 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state of Virginia, 25 deaths and over 12,000 tests have been administered.
According to Northam, Virginia will face a surge in cases that require hospitalization, which is based on extensive research, predictions and models from experts throughout the nation, requiring local hospitals and relevant organizations to prepare for full bed capacity. For example, Mary Washington in Fredericksburg has established a full-functioning field campus, and Virginia Commonwealth University has identified a student dormitory that was once a hospital, which will be used to house patients who are not in critical condition.
Northam urges residents to think about our health care providers when deciding whether or not to leave the home
“I ask Virginians to stay at home,” Northam said at a 2 p.m. press conference Monday. “We understand that you may need to leave to get groceries or to seek medical attention, however you should stay home to the greatest extent possible … We are at the beginning of a period of sacrifice.”
Virginia will continue to enforce the 10 or less rule in public and private spaces. According to Northam, if local restaurants, businesses and retail spaces are unable to do so, they will be required to close. And, as Virginia law states, violation of executive order is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, leading to jail time for up to a year and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
In regard to testing, members of Northam’s staff announced that the state is “unable to test everyone right now.” There are currently supply chain shortages in Virginia, as well as the rest of the nation, slowing down the process and ability of widespread testing. That being said, the National Guard activity supporting statewide efforts has been approved by the federal government, and the port of Virginia will remain open to ensure shipments of necessary supplies can get in.
For more on how COVID-19 is impacting Northern Virginia, check here.