New Virginia Stay Home Order in Effect

Virginia Governor has placed state under a stay at home order

Catherine Smith, Advertising Manager & Social Media Director

Virginia governor Ralph Northam declared a stay at home order, demanding all Virginians limit activity outside the home to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming hospitals and endangering medical professionals, in his March 30 press conference. Mandatory trips for “food, supplies, work, medical care, fresh air or exercise,” said Northam, are still permitted. The order remains in place until June 9.

Under this order, social, recreational and business gatherings of 11 or more are prohibited, and places of higher education will cancel gatherings and in-class instruction. He also asked that companies have their employees work remotely and advised travelers, especially those coming from high COVID-19 case areas, to quarantine for 14 days.

Northam said it is “not a time to put people in jail,” but noncompliance could end in a Class 1 misdemeanor charge. He states that in conjunction with social distancing and frequent hand washing, the stay at home order is the best tool to combat COVID-19.

He recognizes many were “doing the right thing to help neighbors, making masks for medical personnel,” and that teachers drove around neighborhoods to see students from their cars.

Dr. Laurie Forlano, Deputy Commissioner for Population Health, reported 1,020 COVID-19 confirmed cases of the 12,000 tested in Virginia including 136 hospitalized and 25 deaths. Northam said half of Virginia cases are those under the age 50. Therefore, he asks all age groups to “act responsibly and stay home” to protect public health and slow the possible medical surge for hospitals.

Currently, Virginia has about 18,500 hospital beds, of which 200 are ICU beds. Based on models, Northam knows they will need more.

To meet that need, the Army Corps of Engineers is surveying places to make temporary full-capacity hospital sites. This follows examples like Mary Washington’s campus field hospital, Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) campus dormitory hospitals and South West Virginia’s Valid Lonesome Pine hospital.

Northam said on Friday, United States Code (USC) 32 status was approved for the state of Virginia. Under which, service members will be under Northam’s guidance but paid and trained by the US armed services.

Northam has asked for Federal Major Disaster status to receive disaster related unemployment support, legal support, food and transitional shelter assistance. Virginia has also received the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval for the statewide household disaster feeding program which will allow the entire Virginia food bank network to give emergency food assistance to anyone in need, not just those who meet income guidelines.

DC, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina are all working together to create similar directives. Northam calls this time a period of sacrifice that will require community understanding and commitment. It is an “unprotected and difficult time that is hard for people. I understand, but I have faith in you as Virginia. I need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly, and we will get through this together,” said Northam.