A sudden announcement of further COVID-19 restrictions yesterday has triggered a need for a special Saturday installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement for November 14, 2020. I’m your host Sean Tubbs.
To begin today, I want to draw attention to my friend Charlene Munford’s Go Fund Me campaign to help take her Monster Cleaning business to the next level. Earlier this year, Charlene tackled a huge job at my house, clearing and cleaning a basement gone wrong. Take a look at her story and see what you can do. Her business now offers COVID-19 fogging equipment. Details in the print ad at the bottom of this newsletter.
Governor Ralph Northam has imposed additional restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 in advance of the holidays. For instance, private gatherings will be limited to no more than 25 people and restaurants must close by midnight.
“Across Virginia, coronavirus cases are on the rise,” Northam said. “Our statewide percent positivity is going up. And we’re seeing more and more people hospitalized with this virus, and more people are dying.”
Northam said the increase is straining hospitals and medical facilities across Virginia, at the same time that America sets a new daily record of new cases every day. On November 7, there were 125,932 new daily cases. That number climbed to 181,194 yesterday. Northam said it was time to take action.
“All essential businesses will follow the requirements on social distancing, cleaning, and wearing face coverings,” Northam said. “This means grocery stores, home improvement stores and others.”
The requirement to wear masks in indoor public places has been lowered to age 5, down from age 10.
“Numbers are going up in every region of the state and we must act as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control,” Northam said. “Virginia is not an island. While our cases may not be rising as rapidly as some states, I do not intend to wait until they are.”
Northam said contact tracing has revealed that the virus is spreading in indoor places where people take their masks off and in small social gatherings such as dinner parties.
“And it’s spreading when people ignore the science and don’t think they need to wear a mask inside,” Northam said. “Careless behavior by one person puts everyone into contact with at risk.
The changes come in the form of an amendment to Executive Order 67 and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven.
On the day after the announcement, the Virginia Department of Health reports another 1,537 new cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, and the percent positivity has increased to 6.8 percent. That figure was 6.5 percent yesterday.
There are another 23 cases in the Blue Ridge Health District, with eight from Albemarle, seven from Charlottesville, three from Greene, three from Louisa, one in Fluvanna and one in Nelson. Another person from Albemarle has died, bringing the total in that county to 26 and 80 in the district since the pandemic began.
Cases continue to rise in Southwest Virginia. Some examples. Washington County on the Tennessee border reports another 42 cases today. Three hours to the east, Roanoke County reports another 27 cases and Botetourt County reports another 38 cases. The Centers for Disease Control use a 14-day period to measure percent positivity. As of yesterday, Botetourt’s rate is 10.9 percent, Roanoke’s is 10.6 percent, and Washington’s is 13.4 percent.
Looking elsewhere in the state, Arlington reports another 50 cases today, Chesterfield County reports another 60 cases and the city of Virginia Beach reports another 92 cases. Fourteen day percent positivity is lower in those areas, with 5.8 percent in Arlington, 6.6 percent in Chesterfield and 6.6 percent in Virginia Beach. The percent positivity in Albemarle is 1 percent and 1.2 percent in Charlottesville. However, those numbers are low due to the number of frequent tests of athletes and other personnel at the University of Virginia.
In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced he would toughen the statewide mask mandate in a daily briefing on Friday the 13th.
“Ironically we have had 13 deaths since Wednesday,” Justice said. “In nine months, we have lost 248,000 Americans due to COVID. Honestly, we have got to realize what we are dealing with here. It is really, a massive, massive killer.”
At his briefing, Justice listed recent fatalities in the state before going on to make the announcement. He observed that West Virginia is one of the states with the highest amount of elderly population per capita.
“We have been pleading with people over and over and over again to wear their mask,” Justice said. “We know the situation that the vaccine is on the way but it is not here yet.”
Justice issued executive orders that require facial coverings to be worn indoors at all times. Prior to midnight tonight, the directive was advisory.
“We are making this ultra mandatory especially now, or making this as an ultra mandatory at this time especially for all of our businesses,” Justice said. (Watch Justice’s briefing)
Earlier this week, President-elect Joe Biden announced an advisory group for COVID-19. During his remarks, he implored people to wear a facial covering.
“It doesn’t matter who you voted for or where you stood before election day. It doesn’t matter your party, your point of view. We can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. not Democrat or Republican lives but American lives. Maybe we’ll save the life of a person who stocks the shelves at your local grocery store. Maybe saves the life of a member of your place of worship. Maybe it saves the lives of one of your children’s teachers. Maybe it saves your life. So please, I implore you. Wear a mask. Do it for yourself. Do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement but it is a good way to start pulling the country together.”
For more from President-elect Biden, take a listen to the latest episode of the Charlottesville Quarantine Report.