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Governor imposes new curbs as virus intensifies

SoVaNow.com / November 18, 2020


The pullback in plans for high school sports and returning more students to the classroom comes as the coronavirus tightens its grip on Virginia and the United States, with cases spiking in alarming fashion and the nation’s death toll creeping towards a quarter million.

In Mecklenburg County, the reporting of new COVID-19 cases has slowed in November, with 954 county residents coming down with the disease since the pandemic struck in March. The 954 positive test count, current through Tuesday, has inched up slowly since Nov. 1, when the Virginia Department of Health reported 904 persons in Mecklenburg had tested positive for the virus.

Notwithstanding the modest daily caseload increases in recent days, other VDH data offer some worrying signs for Mecklenburg. The test positivity rate — the number of persons with the disease, compared to the total number tested — has jumped to 5.7 percent over the recent 14-day period, above the five percent threshold established by the CDC for tracking the virus’ spread. Communities with test positivity rates above five percent are seeing substantial community transmission of the virus, according to public health researchers.

The picture is significantly worse for some of Mecklenburg’s neighbors. Charlotte County has a test positivity rate of 6.3 percent, and in Halifax County, the test positivity rate is 9.3 percent. Halifax also is the scene of a major nursing home outbreak, at South Boston Health and Rehab, formerly The Woodview. More than 200 people have been infected by the virus, including some 50 employees. The long-term care facility is owned by Saber Healthcare, which purchased The Woodview and its sister facility, the former MeadowView Terrace nursing home in Clarksville, from Sentara.

Deaths from the virus in the Southside Health District, which encompasses Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties, now stand at 53 persons. Four have died in the past eight days in Halifax County, where the death toll stands at 12. In Mecklenburg County, 35 people have died, with 28 deaths tied to nursing home outbreaks in Clarksville and Chase City.

Total deaths in Virginia stand at 3,835, and the Commonwealth experienced another spike in new cases on Tuesday when the health department reported 2,125 positive diagnoses, following an even bigger jump on Monday.

In response to deteriorating conditions across Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday issued new executive orders to strengthen steps to curtail the virus’ spread. These measures took effect Sunday at midnight:

» All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. The restriction includes outdoor and indoor settings.

» All persons five and older are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. The governor’s order expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and required all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.

» All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. Violations are now enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.

» Restaurants, bars, and other establishments such as breweries and wineries are prohibited from offering alcohol after 10 p.m. and must close by midnight. Individuals who choose to consume alcohol prior to 10 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” said Governor Northam in a statement announcing amended Executive Orders Sixty-Three and Sixty-Seven.

“Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work. I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives,” Northam continued.

Although hospital capacity remains stable, hospitalizations have increased statewide by more than 35 percent in the last four weeks, the Governor’s Office reports.



In the past week, the United States has averaged nearly 146,000 new cases per day, an increase of 80 percent from the average two weeks earlier, according to an analysis Friday by The New York Times. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center reported 10,945,381 cases through Sunday, with 245,812 deaths.

Public health officials have warned that the current death rate of some 1,000 people per day will rise sharply in the days ahead, as the death toll catches up to the surge of new cases. Individuals are also being urged to be careful with planned gatherings for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays, especially indoors.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer,” advises the Centers for Disease Control, which recommends mask wearing, social distancing of at least 6 feet from persons who do not live with you, and frequent hand washing and sanitation.

The CDC also recommends holding events outdoors when possible, limiting the number of guests, and using disposable plates, cups and utensils, among other steps.



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Comments

Ok so private parties bad, but school where more people are is ok?

Comments

Ha - see we can agree ^^ schools are not the spreaders. Bars,eateries,gyms are the biggest contributers of transmission.


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