RICHMOND, Va. — COVID-19 cases in Virginia saw an increase on Saturday, bringing the statewide total to more than 700 cases.
The Virginia Department of Health said Friday that 604 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Saturday morning, the number grew to 739, an overnight increase of 135. Gov. Ralph Northam stated that of those cases, roughly 16% of them were patients in their 20s.
The death toll in the commonwealth increased from 14 to 17 overnight, but details about those deaths have not yet been released.
Health officials also announced 99 people remain hospitalized with the illness in Virginia.
Officials say those numbers will continue to rise as more people are being tested.
On Friday, Gov. Northam announced that Virginia is "considering" a shelter-in-place, but has not mandated it yet.
Northam said the coronavirus outbreak has led to a "new normal" that is likely to last months, not weeks, as we have not seen a peak in COVID-19 cases. On March 27, he announced that him and other Governors have requested President Trump to create a federal testing site for workers in the DMV regions, citing that 360,00 live in the area.
The highest concentration of cases thus far is in Fairfax County – where 20% of the positive cases have originated.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus cases in the Commonwealth of Virginia:
- All Virginia schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic school year
- Non-essential businesses have been ordered to close
- Those 65+ asked to self-quarantine
- Gatherings of more than 10 people statewide are banned
- Virginia under a State of Emergency
- Absentee ballot encouraged for May primary, registration deadline Apr. 28
Northam said for the foreseeable future, media briefings will be 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week, instead of every day unless the need arises.
"This is not a holiday. This is not a vacation, please stay home," Northam said.
Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered all public schools to remain closed through the end of the academic school year.
The governor had previously ordered a two-week school closure, which was set to expire at the end of this week.
Additionally, Northam announced that until April 27, non-essential businesses must close.
Restaurants can continue to provide carry out, delivery and drive-thru services.
Essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks will remain open with social distancing practices in place, Northam said. Non-retail establishments can remain open, but must only have 10 patrons inside at a time.
Gov. Northam urged residents to abide by CDC guidelines, continue to practice social distancing and wash their hands regularly.
"If you don't abide by our guidelines, you are not only putting yourself at risk, you are putting others at risk. I encourage all Virginians to abide by our guidelines," Northam said.
Dr. Laurie Forlano, Deputy Commissioner for Public Health in Virginia said Saturday the state prioritizing health care workers for testing, as well as testing in areas where there have been clusters of cases.
Northam said the state is asking prosecutors and judges to "highly consider" options other than facility incarceration, such as electronic home monitoring.
The Virginia Department of Corrections has also suspended in-person visitation at state facilities as well as transfers and intake from local and regional jails.
Beyond working with correctional facilities and jails, Northam announced that the commonwealth is working on extending attendance flexibility measures for child care centers and schools so they can be adequately refunded.
As of March 18, over 10,000 Virginians had filed for unemployment, Northam said. In an effort to help assist them and businesses, the state's Small Business Administration application was submitted and approved March 19 and Northam said they are working to make sure the process for filing can be expedited.
On March 18, Gov. Northam said the commonwealth was working with hospitals and federal agencies in preparation for further coronavirus impact. During that announcement, Northam said that Virginia has roughly 2,000 ICU hospital beds ready and that the commonwealth is working with six other health care coalitions to provide additional supplies and ventilators.
For May elections, Virginia voters are highly encouraged to fill out absentee ballots in an effort to protect voter health. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is April 28 and voters must check off box 2A to list why they are requesting absentee.
Motor vehicle offices are closed to the public during the State of Emergency, Northam explained.
The governor encourages residents to help the elderly and those in need at this time. Meanwhile, people over 65 years old are being asked to self-quarantine and stay home for their safety, Northam said.
Northam also addressed discrimination and misinformation against the Asian American community amid coronavirus concerns. The governor directed Virginians to find factual information on the outbreak on the VDH website or to call 1-877-ASK-VDH3.
What precautions should you take?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Check the status of the virus in your state with your state health department's websites by tapping below: