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COVID-19 in Virginia
VaNews
March 31, 2020
Top of the News

Virginia governor latest to issue stay-at-home order

By SARAH RANKIN AND ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday issued a statewide stay-at-home order along with a lecture for those who packed the state’s beaches last weekend or otherwise ignored calls to avoid mass gatherings. “You are being very, very selfish because you are putting all of us, especially our health care providers, at risk,” Northam, who is also a doctor, said at a news conference. “To date, this has been a suggestion to Virginians. Today, it’s an order.”


State budget crunch looms, as Virginia seeks less restriction on federal aid

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The coronavirus crisis is likely to blow a hole in Virginia’s budget for the current fiscal year, not just the proposed two-year budget that Gov. Ralph Northam has yet to amend or sign.


Surge of volunteers apply to help with coronavirus medical efforts

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam put out a call Wednesday for medical health volunteers to help with the coronavirus pandemic. He said it was only a matter of time before the state’s hospital capacity — including its personnel — would hit its limit, so it was “all hands on deck” for medical providers across Virginia’s facilities. That day, the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps received 750 new volunteer applications.


Va. coal mines closing due to COVID-19 concerns

By SYDNEY LAKE, Va Business Magazine

Five Virginia coal mines announced Monday they they shutting down operations to stop the spread of coronavirus, but continuing to fulfill weekly orders from current stockpiles. The Buchanan Mine No.1, which employs 543 workers in Southwest Virginia, has closed as of Monday, Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy spokesperson Tarah Kesterson says.


From VPAP Map, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Data from the Virginia Department of Health shows a timeline of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases each day and a statewide map showing the number of cases by locality.


As Virginia House Speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn broke ranks with her predecessors

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

When a bill banning assault weapons died in the Virginia Senate last month, it looked as though several gun- control bills promised by Democrats were suddenly in jeopardy. Rookie House Speaker Eileen ­Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) went to work to save them. She reached out to the opposite side of the Capitol, contacting senators to build up support ...


$10,000 produces 2,000 loaves for the needy

By DON DEL ROSSO, Fauquier Now

The Old Town Warrenton baker had no idea where the conversation would lead him. A customer on Tuesday, March 17, entered Great Harvest Bread Co. at 108 Main St. and complained “loudly” about coronavirus-related hoarding that made it impossible for her to find bread at local supermarkets, owner Pablo Teodoro recalled.

The Full Report
45 articles, 22 publications

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

As Virginia cases top 1,000, Northam announces ‘stay at home' order

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced a “stay at home” order Monday to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, directing Virginians to remain at home except for food, supplies, work, medical care or to get fresh air or exercise. The executive order, which will be in effect until June 10 unless updated or rescinded, calls for all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction.


Hogan, Northam, Bowser order residents to stay at home

By ANTONIO OLIVO, OVETTA WIGGINS AND GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Maryland, Virginia and the District on Monday barred residents from leaving home unless it’s absolutely necessary, joining a handful of other states that have issued such orders in hopes of controlling the fast-spreading novel coronavirus. While all three jurisdictions had already banned most gatherings, closed businesses and schools, and urged people to stay home as much as possible, the orders made clear that compliance is no longer optional — and added fines and potential jail time for some violations.


Northam issues ‘stay-at-home’ order for Virginians to help slow spread of coronavirus

By SALEEN MARTIN, MARIE ALBIGES AND ROBYN SIDERSKY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginians should not leave their homes for anything other than food, medical care, outdoor exercise, essential work or a few other exceptions, Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday as he issued a new stay-at-home order to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. He also ordered a crackdown on crowds at public beaches and parks, where — as the weather turned nice over the weekend — hundreds gathered in Hampton Roads.


Northam issues stay-at-home order

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday ordered all Virginians to stay at home until June 10 unless they need — not just want — to go out for food, work, medical care or fresh air. “To date, this has been a suggestion to Virginians. Today, it is an order,” Northam said during a news briefing, adding that those who flout the order can face a criminal misdemeanor charge.


Northam issues stay-at-home order with exceptions

By MEL LEONOR AND JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday ordered state residents to remain at home except for certain necessities, stepping up the state’s restrictions on public activity to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The order — which went into effect Monday and will remain in place until June 10 — allows people to leave their homes if they “must go out for food, supplies, medical care, or to get fresh air or exercise,” Northam said ...


What outdoor physical activity is allowed under Virginia’s stay-at-home order?

By BENNETT CONLIN, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Gyms across the country are closed. Many basketball courts are closed. In some cases, the rims have been removed from hoops. Tennis courts are closed and even some golf courses are closed. As COVID-19 continues to spread, everyday activity is being affected. That includes how people can exercise.

STATE GOVERNMENT

COVID-19 causing some uncertainty for Virginia elections

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Uncertainty hangs over the upcoming May 5 locality elections, as Virginia officials at all levels continue trying to limit public exposure to COVID-19. On Monday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order for Virginians that extends until June 10. It directs people to only be out to run important errands like picking up food or supplies, visiting the doctor and going to work for people who are designated essential.


Virginia Employment Commission reminds laid off workers to keep filing weekly claims

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Employment Commission is reminding individuals who filed an application to receive unemployment benefits from the state that they must file a claim every week they are out of work, or they won’t be paid. The commission is recommending filers make their weekly claims every Sunday, Monday or Tuesday if they remain out of work in order to be paid for the week before.


Craig County sewage treatment plant cited by DEQ

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Environmental regulators have cited a Craig County sewage treatment plant for the overflow of about 2.6 million gallons of wastewater into a nearby creek. As part of an agreement with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Craig-New Castle Public Service Authority will fix the problems that led to the discharges into Johns Creek.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Philip Morris USA plans to reopen Richmond cigarette factory with limited staffing

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

After suspending operations at its massive cigarette factory in South Richmond about 10 days ago because of the coronavirus outbreak, Philip Morris USA is now planning a limited restart of production at the plant next week.


SeaWorld, Busch Gardens’ parent company, will furlough more than 90% of its workers

By STEVE ROBERTS JR, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

In a Friday filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, SeaWorld Entertainment, Busch Gardens’ parent company, announced it will furlough more than 90% of its workforce by April 1. The mass-furlough and park closures comes as the coronavirus pandemic grips the nation...


Local food service workers turn to other sources of income

By GRAHAM SCHILTZ, Harrisonburg Citizen

Food service employees have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19. Now that dining rooms in Harrisonburg are shut down, restaurants have been closing or transitioning to curbside pickup and delivery. Even employees of establishments that are still open have suffered via reduced hours or tips. In a system where most servers are paid less than minimum wage, the lack of customers — and, subsequently, tips — has led to uncertainty about the future among service workers who spoke with The Citizen.


Richmond’s coworking spaces take different approaches to navigating coronavirus

By JACK JACOBS, Richmond BizSense

The business model of the coworking space is antithetical to a time of pandemic. Restaurants and breweries can sell their food and brews to go. Many white-collar firms can have their employees work from home. Retailers can use online shopping as a stopgap. Even live events such as concerts can broadcast online. But the main selling point of coworking spaces doesn’t fully translate in any other setting.

TRANSPORTATION

Metro won’t lay off workers even as ridership craters due to coronavirus pandemic

Fort Hunt Herald

The head of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld, has told Metro’s 12,000-person workforce that he has “no intention” of laying anyone off amid plummeting ridership. WMATA has “sharply reduced” Metrorail and Metrobus service around the National Capital Region in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and nationwide social distancing policies. Metro reported on March 29, 2020 that rail ridership has dropped to 10 percent and bus ridership has dropped to 25 percent compared to normal levels.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Liberty says it's obeying state ban on in-person instruction

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Virginia’s governor on Monday ordered all higher education institutions to halt any in-person instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic, a move likely directed at Liberty University, which initially declined to stop all on-campus teaching. The evangelical college in Lynchburg led by President Jerry Falwell Jr. has faced intense criticism over its decision to welcome students back to campus last week after their spring break.


Online Liberty University student tests positive for coronavirus after consulting campus doctor

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

A recent Liberty University graduate living in Lynchburg has tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting a campus doctor, school officials announced Sunday night. In a statement, the university said the former student-athlete, who is now enrolled in online courses, was advised to self-isolate after showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.


Liberty University's Falwell slams media attacks over coronavirus

By MADISON HIRNEISEN, Washington Times

Liberty University officials angrily denied a new press report claiming nearly a dozen students were showing symptoms of COVID-19 after President Jerry Falwell Jr. allowed students to return to residence halls following spring break. The decision to partially reopen the Lynchburg, Virginia, school and allow students into the dorms has provoked a storm of controversy with local officials, but school officials Monday were standing their ground.


JMU's Godwin Hall To House Homeless During COVID-19 Pandemic

By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Open Doors, James Madison University and the city of Harrisonburg have found a solution to the increasingly pressing homelessness issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Godwin Hall’s gymnasium began housing the homeless overnight on Monday, said Graham Witt, the president of the board for Open Doors.


PHCC turns parking lots into WiFi hotspots

By STAFF REPORT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Patrick Henry Community College completed a WiFi expansion to convert three of its parking lots into hot spots to assist students’ ability to connect to their online coursework. Officials on Wednesday closed buildings on the campus to the public, and workers began to install equipment to ensure all students would have a way to access the internet. Now, students or staff members who have no home internet can come to the campus and can work from their cars,

CORONAVIRUS

Virginia Coronavirus Stats Capture the ‘Tip of the Iceberg,’ but Better Data Is Coming

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Virginia has quadrupled in the last week. But experts say the daily numbers released by the Department of Health is still an undercount exacerbated by some of the country’s lowest per capita testing. Alex Krist, an associate professor of family and population medicine at VCU, said the state data represents “just the tip of the iceberg.”


Three more Canterbury residents die, but two had tested negative for COVID-19

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Three more residents of Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center have died, but two of them had tested negative for COVID-19, the potentially fatal respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. Tests were pending for the third resident, a man in his 80s who died early Monday in a hospital waiting room.


Hampton Roads military installations will no longer publicly report confirmed coronavirus cases

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Individual military installations in Hampton Roads and across the country are no longer allowed to tell the public when they have confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Department of Defense recently issued the guidance, according to a Facebook post Monday afternoon from Joint Base Langley-Eustis.


Martinsville Speedway to become COVID-19 testing site

By STAFF REPORT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Martinsville Speedway will become a testing site for COVID-19 virus. The concept was developed by a working group of The Harvest Foundation and community and government leaders, which made the announcement. Details on an opening date, hours of operation and testing site protocols will be announced once all materials and required equipment is in place.


Virginia Receives Permission to Cancel SOLS

By JASON SHAW, Bristow Beat

The U.S. Department of Education has given Virginia permission to cancel federally mandated Standards of Learning tests in reading, math and science during the 2019-2020 school year. In a statement, Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said that the commonwealth’s waiver application was submitted on Friday after the federal agency informed the Virginia Department of Education that the application did not require prior approval from the state Board of Education.


Richmond to restrict access to some public spaces, including James River

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced the city would restrict access to certain public spaces in response to Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order. In a release, Stoney announced playgrounds and courts at public parks, as well as on Richmond Public Schools properties, are closed beginning Monday at 5 p.m. Access to the James River would be limited as well. Certain activities – swimming, sunbathing or congregating in groups – are now forbidden. Residents can still exercise along the river.


Staunton man maintains 82 apartments during COVID-19. Tenants aren't concerned, but he is.

By LAURA PETERS, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 3 to 4 articles a month)

Curtis Wimer is very concerned about entering peoples homes. He's a maintenance person at Park Hill Apartments in Staunton. Normally, going into tenants' homes isn't a big deal for Wimer, but ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, it worries him. He's in an apartment almost every day — some are empty that he's painting, but others are him helping tenants who have locked themselves out — a daily occurrence — or other issues, he said. "My mom is 83 and I'm afraid to be around her. She's been isolating weeks now," he said.


Local congregations learn new ways to reach members

By ALEXA DOIRON & JULIA MARSIGLIANO, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Metered paywall - 3 articles per month)

abbi David Katz inspires his congregation on Friday evenings with traditional songs, the word of God and messages of faith—-all from his son’s bedroom. “It’s the quietest place in the house for video conferencing,” he said.


Local shoe company turns 3-D printers into respirator makers

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville shoe company OESH is using its 3-D printers and expertise designing around body features to help meet a need during the coronavirus pandemic. OESH, along with neighbor Luna Innovations, has designed and is producing a flexible 3-D printed respirator mask that has a tight seal around the edges for use while there is a N95 respirator mask shortage.

VIRGINIA OTHER

To cheers, Norfolk-based hospital ship Comfort arrives in New York to help with coronavirus patient surge

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

New Yorkers cheered from the harbor shoreline Monday morning as the USNS Comfort arrived in Manhattan with a Coast Guard escort to help the city’s medical staff combat the coronavirus. President Donald Trump visited Naval Station Norfolk Saturday to see the ship off on the journey. The Comfort is crewed by civilian mariners and gets most of its medical staff from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.


As More Residents Stay Home, Fairfax County Boasts High Census Response Rate

By FATIMAH WASEEM, Reston Now

With more Fairfax County residents social distancing in their home, the 2020 census is expected to see higher response rates than usual in the county. So far, nearly 43 percent of households have completed the questionnaire, up from the statewide response rate of 37 percent.

LOCAL

Residential Waste Collection Struggles Amid Surge in Trash

ArlNow

With much of the Arlington population confined to their homes, it’s little surprise that residents are generating more trash. But the scale of the increase — more than 30% by weight — is straining the trash collectors, who are trying to stay on the job and stay healthy during the outbreak.


Trash, Recycling Changes in Fairfax County Start Today

By CATHERINE DOUGLAS MORAN, Reston Now

Local residents can expect changes to their trash and recycling starting today (March 30). Fairfax County announced on Friday that the Solid Waste Management Program is making some changes to trash and recycling collection to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus. “These changes will remain in effect until the public health emergency passes,” the county said. “Additional changes may be announced if the situation worsens in our area.”


Loudoun County Sheriff's Office deputy tests positive for coronavirus

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times

A member of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office has tested positive for the coronavirus. The deputy, who serves in the Field Operations Division, tested positive for COVID-19 Monday morning, according to the LCSO, which reported he has mild, allergy-like symptoms and is recovering at home.


Three Richmond ambulance employees test positive for COVID-19

By MEL LEONOR AND JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Three Richmond Ambulance Authority employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, the ambulance service said Monday. The employees include a paramedic, EMT and a support staff member. The authority said in a news release that none of the three "are believed to have contracted" the virus while at work and didn't interact with their co-workers or patients while they were ill.


Richmond leaders brace for budget fallout

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is still coming into focus in Richmond, but local leaders say they’re bracing for more bad news. “I would suspect we’re going to have a shortfall,” said Chris Hilbert, the City Council’s vice president, of the fiscal year that ends June 30.


Richmond School Board OKs Laptop Purchase During Pandemic

By MEGAN PAULY, WCVE

Richmond Public Schools can now move forward with plans to purchase an additional 2,030 chromebooks for students, along with internet hotspots. The laptops will go to students whose families don’t have the devices at home, and the district will prioritize distribution to high school students, ESL students and students with disabilities. The school board approved a resolution in its last meeting allowing for emergency-related budget transfers of up to $1 million, barring objections from two or more board members. School board member Scott Barlow introduced that resolution.


Norfolk to furlough 550 employees, shift others’ duties during coronavirus pandemic

By RYAN MURPHY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Norfolk said Monday it will furlough 550 part-time city employees — more than 10% of its workforce — and switch other workers’ schedules in response to continued requests from Gov. Ralph Northam for residents to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came Monday morning, before Northam officially issued a stay-home order for the state. It was a dramatic departure from staffing plans discussed by City Manager Chip Filer last week ...


More local government meetings move online; libraries extend closures

By BRYAN MCKENZIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

With a governor’s stay-at-home order in effect until June 10, local governments are continuing to switch their meetings to digital formats. Gov. Ralph Northam signed an order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise. In following the governor’s order, and to decrease the chance of spreading the virus, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors announced that its 5 p.m. Wednesday meeting will be the first virtual one for the board.


Roanoke suspends school meals delivery by bus, citing governor's order

By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Roanoke City Public Schools has suspended its meal delivery service until further notice, the district announced in a Facebook post on Monday evening. Employees are not to report to work, either, and school buildings will be closed until further notice, the post stated.


Roanoke Democrats' decision to switch from firehouse primary to closed convention sparks controversy

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

The Roanoke City Democratic Committee faced a difficult decision about how Democrats will pick their nominees for the city council race with the COVID-19 pandemic worsening each day.

 

EDITORIALS

Public engagement still essential, despite the virus crisis

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Building an annual budget serves as the single most important endeavor for any municipal government in any given year. The process sets forth the aspirations of a community, quantifies the shared responsibility for services and, hopefully, reflects the public will. The coronavirus crisis complicates that considerably.


Bad Actors: Those who behave recklessly imperil us all

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than 550 parishioners packed Sunday service at the Life Tabernacle Church in the Louisiana town of Central. Megachurches in Ohio and Florida also reported their halls teeming with congregants. In Virginia, Liberty University last week welcomed back from spring break some 1,900 of students to its Lynchburg campus. These foolhardy, irresponsible decisions endanger not just those who attended the church services or resumed their college studies but untold others ...

COLUMNISTS

Gerson: Who does Jerry Falwell Jr. serve?

By MICHAEL GERSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

After learning of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s decision to partially reopen Liberty University, my thoughts turned to the biblical account of Balaam’s ass. According to the Hebrew scriptures, the children of Israel were on the verge of engulfing another Bronze Age tribe. Lacking recourse to the United Nations, the Moabites turned to a diviner named Balaam to curse the Israelis.

OP-ED

Terwilliger: Protecting the rule of law during the pandemic

By G. ZACHARY TERWILLIGER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans united in ways that I never experienced. A newfound solidarity and pride in our country rose from those tragic images. The rule of law held strong, strangers supported strangers staggering away from ground zero, and America once again was reminded of the absolute heroism, bravery and selflessness of firefighters, police and other first responders who ran into collapsing skyscrapers knowing they might not run out.


Spanberger: Our health care workers need protective equipment now

By ABIGAIL SPANBERGER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

We’ve found ourselves in the middle of an almost unimaginable scenario. Over the past week, COVID-19 has spread across Virginia and in the Richmond area. It has taken the lives of our community’s vulnerable seniors as it viciously spread through a long-term care facility in Henrico County, infecting both residents and staff.

Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat, represents Virginia’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.