by Shawn Nowlin
At approximately 2 p.m. on March 30, Governor Ralph Northam issued a statewide stay at home order. People should leave their homes, Northam outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, only to obtain food and supplies, care for family, work, medical care or exercise.
Gatherings of more than ten people are banned, and a Class 1 misdemeanor can be charged to any person who fails to obey. Businesses that cannot properly follow the social distancing order are required to close. Institutions of higher learning are instructed to cease in-person classes. Gov. Northam’s order will remain active until June 10, unless it is later rescinded or amended.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” Northam said. “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.”
More than 12,000 Virginians have been tested, and 30 people have died because of COVID-19. As of Wednesday morning, Virginia has documented roughly 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and that includes a City of Salem employee who works in the Street & General Maintenance Department. The individual is currently being treated at LewisGale Medical Center.
“Our top priority is protecting our patients, clinicians, nurses and colleagues so we can best serve our communities through the duration of this pandemic,” noted Lance Jones, LewisGale CEO.
Said a city spokesperson, “Because social distancing procedures, including the separation of work crews and staggered start times to the workday, were in place when this employee became ill, the potential spread of the virus was contained to very few employees. The infected employee’s co-workers are now self-quarantined.”
Because Virginia only has 18,500 beds, including 2,000 ICU beds, officials say the state is not yet at the point where it can give a test to everyone. To provide the latest updates, Governor Northam will be issuing regularly scheduled briefings at 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.