Va. sees 23% one-day spike in COVID-19 cases
Commonwealth now has 95 coronavirus cases, including first case in Southwest Virginia
UPDATED MARCH 19, 7 P.M.
There are now 95 COVID-19 cases in Virginia — a 23% increase from the 77 cases confirmed in the commonwealth as of Wednesday, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health and Carilion Clinic in Roanoke. The new cases include an elderly patient in serious condition at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the first case confirmed in Southwest Virginia.
“Infectious diseases do not respect boundaries,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said during his daily coronavirus news briefing on Thursday. “If you’re sick, please stay home.”
Other new cases include a child in Gloucester County, who is recuperating at home, State Epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake said Thursday, adding that 1,923 Virginians have now been tested.
Another of the new cases — the first in Falls Church — is a resident at The Kensington assisted-living and memory care facility.
“Residents have been monitored daily for fever and respiratory symptoms since news of the spread of COVID-19 became public,” Amy Feather, executive director of the The Kensington, said in a statement. “In addition, team members have been monitored for symptoms of flu and COVID-19 at the start of their shifts. Anyone with symptoms has been sent home, asked to contact their physician and to monitor their symptoms.”
Northam’s 3 p.m. news conference covered other developments and announcements:
- The state now has 1,000 COVID-19 testing kits, Peake said. Private labs — among them North Carolina-based LabCorp and New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics — appear to have more capacity to test Virginians too, but she said she doesn’t know exactly how many tests the private labs have. “It is changing,” she said, and private companies are not required to share such information with the state, although several officials, including Peake, have said they’re in close contact with LabCorp and Quest.
- Businesses can apply for an extension on sending their sales-tax returns, which are due Friday, to April 20. Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne Jr. emphasized that businesses must request the extension, which will come from the Virginia Department of Taxation. He expects the one-month delay will cost the state $145 billion, and localities will directly feel about $30 billion of that total. “We must balance our budget,” he said. “We can’t print money.”
- The state also will allow a one-month extension for payment of individual and corporate state income taxes by June 1, although tax returns are still due May 1, Layne said. Anyone who pays their state income tax after June 1 will not incur late penalties but will have to pay interest, he said.
- About 10,000 Virginians have applied for unemployment benefits with the Virginia Employment Commission as of Wednesday, the governor said.
- The General Assembly still expects to reconvene in Richmond April 22 as scheduled, Northam said, although he is still discussing safety measures with officials. “They have disinfected the Pocahontas Building,” the governor said, referring to the current office building in Richmond for delegates, senators and their staff while the General Assembly building undergoes its extensive renovation.
- Guidance for child care professionals and families is at the state Department of Social Services website, the governor said. The state is making it simpler to apply for and continue child care subsidies during the crisis, he added.
- The state is working with the federal government on Medicaid issues and expects to eliminate copays and extend prescription refills to 90 days for Virginia Medicaid recipients, said Karen Kimsey, director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS).
- Local and regional jails no longer allow in-person visits or inmate transfers, Northam said. Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said he is working closely with police and prosecutors to encourage the use of summonses instead of custodial arrests, consider alternatives to incarceration and reduce sentences for some low-level offenders.
Since yesterday, the Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD), which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle County, has reported three additional cases, bringing its total to four.
“As we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 in our community and throughout the commonwealth, it is critical that people follow the public health guidelines on social distancing and good hygiene,” TJHD Health Director Dr. Denise Bonds said in a statement.
Arlington County has the greatest number of current confirmed cases at 17, followed by Fairfax County at 16 and James City County at 14. There are still no confirmed cases in Southwest Virginia. Nineteen people are hospitalized currently, according to VDH, and there have been two confirmed deaths in Virginia.