Governor extends social distancing regulations to May 8

Published 10:35 am Thursday, April 16, 2020

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Charlotte County saw the largest uptick in COVID-19 cases in the area Thursday. The morning update from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) saw cases in the county move from five to eight.

Buckingham County continues to be place where the coronavirus is most prevalent. Cases went up by one Thursday to 23 after having a substantial increase Wednesday.

Prince Edward County remained at 15 cases. Cumberland County actually went down a case from eight to seven according to the VDH tracker. It is unclear what caused that. Lunenburg County is still shown as having three cases, although county officials are reporting a fourth case.

Statewide, cases increased by 389 since Wednesday’s update. The case total now stands at 6,889. Of those, 1,114 patients have been hospitalized. Deaths from the virus increased by 13 from the day before. The state’s coronavirus death toll now stands at 208 people.

During his Wednesday afternoon press conference, Gov. Ralph Northam extended Executive Order 53, which closes restaurant dining rooms and other non-essential businesses while restricting crowd sizes to less than 10 and mandating everyone remain six feet apart, until Friday May 8.

The order was set to expire Thursday, April 23, but with the Stay-at-Home Order in place until June 10, the extension of the order was a forgone conclusion.

“When people say “it’s time to stop what we are doing and get back to normal.’ They are wrong,” Northam said. “If we let off the brakes and try to go back to the way things were, we will see another spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals.”

Northam said he understands the weeks of massive societal change is taking a toll on Virginia’s citizens.

“I know this has been a frustrating time for all of us,” Northam said. “People are out of work. Businesses are closed. Our entire sense of normal life is out the window,” he said. “People want to go out. They want to work. They want to know when they can see their friends and family. They want to know when they can regain control of their lives as they once knew them.”

There is one type of business Northam is considering easing restriction on sooner than later. Northam said barbershops and beauty salon owners have given suggestions about how they can do business safely.

“As we move forward and plan, as far as how to start opening up these businesses, barbershops are going to be at the top of my list. I can promise you that,” Northam said. “We are not there quite yet, but I think there are ways we can do it safely by making sure we wearing masks, by continuing the social distancing by not having more than 10 people in a business, etc.”