Northam issues more restrictions; schools closed for rest of semester
Governor also closing restaurant dining rooms, theaters, fitness centers, bowling alleys.
Updated, 4:15 p.m. Monday: A seventh death has been reported by the Virginia Beach Health District, the first fatality related to COVID-19 in the district. The patient was a man in his 70s who had underlying health conditions, according to the Monday afternoon news release. More information here.
With novel coronavirus cases mounting across Virginia and the nation, Gov. Ralph Northam instituted additional restrictions on Virginians Monday, closing k-12 schools through at least the end of this school semester and directing entertainment and recreational establishments like bowling alleys, theaters and fitness centers to close as of 12 a.m. Tuesday. Northam banned gatherings of 10 or more people anywhere in the commonwealth for at least the next 30 days and closed restaurant and brewery dining rooms, though carryout, delivery and curbside service will be allowed. He also ordered nonessential retail stores to limit their customers to 10 patrons or fewer, implement social distancing and increase cleaning procedures in order to remain open for business.
“It is clear that many of our nonessential businesses must close. … We do not make these decisions lightly,” said Northam, adding that essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and supply chain businesses like construction supply stores will remain open but must follow increased sanitizing procedures and practice social distancing.
“We are moving into a period of sacrifice. Many businesses are closed already because their owners have done the responsible thing. I thank them for the tremendous sacrifices they have made. There are more ahead. … Thousands of people are out of work in our commonwealth.” About 40,000 people have filed for unemployment in the last week, the governor said.
As of Monday, March 23, Virginia has 254 confirmed COVID-19 cases — up from 220 on Sunday, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Thirty-eight Virginians are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus and six have died. Around 3,700 Virginians have been tested for the novel coronavirus by state and private labs.
VDH and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the deaths of four Virginia residents Sunday, bringing the number of COVID-19 fatalities in the commonwealth to six people. Three were women in their 80s from Newport News, Williamsburg and James City County, and one was a Fairfax man in his 60s. Earlier last week, two men in their 70s in the Peninsula region died from coronavirus-related respiratory failure.
There were about 355,000 cases worldwide as of early Monday afternoon, with more than 15,400 deaths reported. There are more than 35,500 cases confirmed in the United States, with 473 deaths so far.