Northam bans gath­er­ings of 10 or more

‘Self-quar­an­tine’ urged for se­niors, those with chronic con­di­tions; Va. deaths at 67

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - Front Page - BY MEL LEONOR Rich­mond Times-Dispatch

Vir­ginia is amp­ing up pub­lic ef­forts to con­tain the COVID-19 pan­demic, in­clud­ing a ban on gath­er­ings of 10 peo­ple or more, given signs of com­mu­nity spread.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued an emer­gency or­der al­low­ing law en­force­ment agen­cies to en­force the ban in­side restau­rants, gyms and the­aters. How the ban will be en­forced else­where, like work­places and pub­lic spa­ces, re­mains un­clear.

Northam also said that in or­der to pro­tect “high-risk Vir­gini­ans,” peo­ple who have chronic health con­di­tions or who are 65 or older should “self-quar­an­tine.”

Vir­ginia Health Com­mis­sioner Nor­man Oliver said Tues­day that a “hand­ful” of con­firmed cases in Vir­ginia have not been traced to other peo­ple con­firmed to have the dis­ease — ham­per­ing ef­forts to con­tain the virus.

“The like­li­hood of com­mu­nity spread is def­i­nitely there,” Oliver said.

State health of­fi­cials said that some of the cases in the Penin­sula re­gion have re­sulted in a “clus­ter of ill­ness,” while a case in Ch­ester­field County had not yet been con­nected to an­other con­firmed case.

RIGHT: Gov. Ralph Northam, trailed by Rich­mond Mayor Le­var Stoney, walked into a coro­n­avirus news con­fer­ence in Rich­mond on Tues­day.

“When you’re start­ing to see com­mu­nity spread, the only mea­sure you have is so­cial dis­tanc­ing,” Oliver said.

Vir­ginia on Tues­day had re­ported 67 cases of COVID-19, an in­crease of 16 cases in 24 hours. The num­ber of con­firmed Vir­ginia cases has dou­bled ev­ery few days.

Ac­cord­ing to the Vir­ginia De­part­ment of Health, eight peo­ple in the Rich­mond area have tested pos­i­tive for COVID19 — four in Ch­ester­field, two in Hen­rico, one in Hanover and one in Goochland.

The most re­cent tally in­cluded the first case in a long-term care fa­cil­ity — a male res­i­dent in his mid-80s at the West­min­ster Can­ter­bury Rich­mond re­tire­ment com­mu­nity in Hen­rico. The man, who is the sec­ond pa­tient be­ing treated at VCU Health, tested pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus af­ter re­turn­ing from a trip to Florida early last week.

The re­tire­ment com­mu­nity’s pres­i­dent, John Burns, said the cam­pus had been on lock­down for over a week, de­creas­ing the like­li­hood of spread. Twenty-five staff mem­bers who had been in con­tact with the pa­tient were sent home to self-quar­an­tine.

“We ini­ti­ated ag­gres­sive and proac­tive ef­forts in track­ing the travel of our res­i­dents and em­ploy­ees as well as im­ple­mented proac­tive screen­ing pro­ce­dures which we be­lieve helped us man­age this case as ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble,” Burns said.

DEAN HOFFMEYER/TIMES-DISPATCH

DEAN HOFFMEYER/TIMES-DISPATCH

Gov. Ralph Northam re­quested that mem­bers of the me­dia po­si­tion them­selves at least 6 feet from one an­other dur­ing Tues­day’s news con­fer­ence in Rich­mond.

BOB BROWN/TIMES-DISPATCH

Sta­ples Macdon­ald with The Hill Cafe said the restau­rant is among those clos­ing be­cause of the coro­n­avirus.

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