RICHMOND – Just two days after Virginia governor Ralph Northam issued a statewide stay at home order, the governor urged Virginians who may not be staying home to do so, saying “go out when you need to, not want to,” in order to make it as difficult as possible for COVID-19 to spread.
As of Wednesday, there were 1,484 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the commonwealth. Among those, according to Virginia health commissioner Norman Oliver, 305 cases have resulted in hospitalizations and 108 patients are on ventilators. Thirty-four COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the state. In addition, 15,344 Virginians have been tested according to the Virginia Department of Health’s website, http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/.
Northam said that the Army Corps of Engineers has been working with the state of Virginia to build hospitals to cope with the predicted surge of COVID-19 patients across the state. So far, Virginia and the USACE have decided on sites in three locations: Fairfax, Hampton and Richmond. More information on the status of the operation and the introduction of additional sites will be discussed during Friday’s press conference.
Northam said that there are no plans at this time to postpone local and congressional primary elections later this year, and encouraged Virginians to apply for an absentee voting ballot. He said that he and other state officials are “continuing to work through the best options for how to hold these elections in this time of social distancing and public health concerns.”
Northam also urged Virginians who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak to file for unemployment, and that he has deferred federal mortgage loan payments for the next three months. Additionally, evictions for those in public housing have been suspended until late April.
Due to several religious holidays in April, Northam said that while these are important times for faith communities in Virginia, “We need to find other ways to celebrate our faith right now.” He recommended that people of faith practice through online sermons or drive-in sermons. Religious leaders are expected to give further suggestions on how to celebrate the important religious holidays coming up this month on Friday’s briefing.
The governor’s press conferences are held at 2 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Governor of Virginia Facebook page.