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Virginia’s Democrat Governor Ralph Northam announced on Monday that he has issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order that takes effect immediately and lasts until June 10, 2020.
“The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances,” Northam’s office said in a statement. “Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.”
“The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction,” the statement continued. “Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.”
During a press conference, Northam said that while a lot of people in Virginia were taking the crisis seriously, many were not.
“This weekend, some of our beaches and other recreational areas were literally packed,” Northam said. “Everyone who is gathering in a crowd at any place around the state is putting themselves and others at risk.”
“If you can work remotely, you need to do so,” Northam continued. “And companies need to allow that.”
“I want to be clear, do not go out unless you need to go out,” Northam added. “This is very different from wanting to go out. Don’t go to the store just for one thing, wait until you have a whole list of needs. If you are traveling from out of state, particularly a hot spot, I urge you to self-quarantine for 14 days. As of today, almost half of the COVID-19 cases in Virginia are in people under age 50. Every age group needs to act responsibly and stay home. No age group is immune to this virus. These orders are necessary to protect public health.”
Northam said that all the forecasting models that he has seen show that Virginia will face a surge in cases that require hospitalization and that he is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to identify sites that they can quickly convert into hospital facilities.
As Northam gave his press conference, the total number of deaths from the coronavirus neared 3,000 in the U.S. and nearly 160,000 total cases in the country.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced that he was extending the social distancing guidelines for the entire month of April.
“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” Trump said. “That would be the greatest loss of all. Therefore, the next two weeks and during this period, it’s very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines, have to follow the guidelines that our great vice president holds up a lot. He’s holding that up a lot. He believes it in so strongly.”
“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” Trump continued. “Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30th, to slow the spread. On Tuesday, we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy to the American people, so we’ll be having lots of meetings in between, but we’ll be having a very important statement made on Tuesday, probably Tuesday evening, on all of the findings, all of the data, and the reasons we’re doing things the way we’re doing them.”
“We can expect that by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery, we think by June 1st a lot of great things will be happening,” Trump added. “I want every citizen in our country to take heart and confidence in the fact that we have the best medical minds in the world, tackling this disease. We have the best scientists, the best researchers, the best talent, anywhere working night and day to protect your family and loved ones and to overcome this pandemic. With the grace of god, we’re rising to the occasion. We are proving that no darkness can overshadow the eternal light with American courage. We will win, and when we do, we will rebound with astonishing force and speed.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.