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Northam issues stay at home order as coronavirus cases climb above 1,000

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Gov. Northam will announced Monday, March 30 that he is issuing a stay at home order for Virginians to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (Gov. Ralph Northam)

RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 25 lives in Virginia and Gov. Ralph Northam announced he is taking more steps to stop its spread. He issued a stay at home executive order for the state. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, 25 people have died after contracting COVID-19 as of Monday, March 30. This includes a woman from Botetourt County and a man in the Mount Rogers Health District.

Overall, the state has reported 1,020 cases and about 136 hospitalizations due to the virus outbreak.

Gov. Northam held a 2 p.m. press conference to provide an update on coronavirus in Virginia after teasing a "major announcement" on social media.

During the press conference, Northam announced a stay at home order, which only orders residents to stay at home with some exceptions to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus in Virginia.

You will only be allowed to leave your home for essential services like medical attention, food, banking, and more.

The order also closes all beaches in the state. Residents will be able to go outside, as long as the ban on gatherings of 10 people or less and social distancing is followed.

Northam said if you are able to work from home, you need to do that and companies need to allow it.

“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

Businesses that can maintain the 10 people rule can remain open, but if they cannot, they need to close, Governor Northam said. Those who do not comply with the executive order could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.

Employees at factories and manufacturing plants that feel unsafe need to address concerns with their supervisor. Northam's office said businesses should follow guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

FAQ | Frequently asked questions about Stay at Home order

There is at least one case of the coronavirus in the following areas of our viewing area:

The VDH coronavirus chart shows that the majority of the cases are people in their 50s. The demographic chart also shows that there are more men with coronavirus than women.

There are now four cases in Lynchburg, which includes a Liberty University student living off campus and a woman in her 60s in critical condition at Lynchburg General Hospital. The VDH reports three cases in Amherst County, five in Botetourt County, and two in Roanoke County.

Northam said state officials were exploring new ways to ensure health care facilities stay adequately staffed, including deploying medical students and have enough bed space. Work is underway to identify sites that could accommodate emergency hospital bed capacity installed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers if needed, he said.

On his Wednesday, March 25 press conference he ordered that elective surgeries at Virginia hospitals must be suspended to preserve the capacity of the state’s health care system amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the voluntary national shutdown for a month, bowing to public-health experts who told him the coronavirus pandemic could claim over 100,000 lives in the U.S., perhaps significantly more, if not enough is done to fight it.

The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. But instead he decided to extend them through April 30, a tacit acknowledgment he'd been too optimistic.

Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.

Gov. Northam said they are looking for more sites that would be able to accommodate hospital beds, like Martinsville Speedway and a previous hospital-turned dorm room at Virginia Commonwealth University.

He said the state expects a surge in cases.

Food banks in Virginia can serve 200,000 Virginians who need help. Go online for more information and how you can help.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. In a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can cause death, particularly among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Avoid non-essential travel

Keep up with coronavirus news online here.

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