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The Virginia Department of Health says as of this morning 460 people in Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19 – an increase of 69 cases from the 391 reported at noon yesterday. The VDH also says almost 6200 people have been tested for the virus. Six new patients were hospitalized, bringing that total to 65 – and another four have died. The statewide death toll now stands at 13; that has more than doubled over the past few days. There are coronavirus cases in 62 Virginia cities and counties.

Governor Northam announced a new executive order today that will impact every aspect of life in Virginia in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Personal care services that cannot adhere to social distancing guidelines – like barberships and spas must also close says the governor.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia public schools will remain closed for the rest of the current school year and certain types of businesses, like bowling alleys, gyms and theaters, must close in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday.

Northam’s order would not apply to businesses deemed essential, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations. State-owned liquor stores will also remain open.

“I know that the next several weeks, the next several months, will be difficult. They will require everyone to change the way that we live, the way we interact with each other,” the governor said.

Northam, who is a doctor, said the closures were necessary to slow the spread of the virus and ensure that the health care system can keep up. As of Monday, there were 254 confirmed cases and six virus-related deaths in Virginia, according to the state health department.

The virus causes only minor flu-like symptoms in most people, who recover in a matter of weeks. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness or death in some, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health problems. Severe cases are often only able to breathe with respirators.

The governor had previously ordered a two-week school closure, which was set to end at the end of this week. Many school districts in the state have previously said they will be closed until at least mid-April.

A growing number of states and localities have been shutting their schools indefinitely. Last week Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly closed public and private K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year.

Northam’s order on business closings is similar to what some other states have done. He had previously ordered restaurants, fitness centers and theaters to limit their capacity to 10 customers.

The new changes will take effect statewide at midnight Tuesday and will remain in effect for at least 30 days, Northam said.

The policies mean restaurants will be limited to only carryout, curbside pickup or delivery. All “recreation and entertainment services,” such as bowling alleys, theaters, gyms and racetracks, must close, Northam said.

“Nonessential” retail shops can stay open if they allow fewer than 10 patrons and follow social distancing and increased sanitizing procedures, he said.

Northam acknowledged that the extended school closure would have serious impacts on families of young children, and he called for “an urgent public-private response” to make sure essential workers have access to childcare. The Department of Social Services and Department of Education would be issuing guidance to communities later Monday, he said.

The governor also said he understood the impact the changes would have on the economy, noting that about 40,000 people filed for unemployment just last week. But he said the sooner the health care crisis was brought under control, the sooner the economy could begin to recover.

“We are moving into a period of sacrifice,” he said.

As of today there are now 219 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Virginia. 25 in the Central region, 6 in the southwestern region. That was the word this morning as Governor Ralph Northam and members of his administration provided an update on Virginia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Northam also said there may be an extension on the school closure date. As for a general public lock down, the Governor says state health officials and his office are assessing the Coronavirus spread in Virginia, to see if that type of order – as in some other states or cities – may be warranted. (Hear the Governor’s update Monday normally live on WLNI at 11am but time is subject to change)

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(from Liberty is headed back to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Lipscomb 73-57 in the ASUN Championship in front of an ASUN Championship record crowd of 7,728 fans in the final game at the Vines Center. Liberty is now 30-4 this season as the Flames are back-to-back ASUN Champions for the first time in school history. Caleb Homesley was named the MVP of the ASUN Tournament while Darius McGhee and Scottie James were named to the All-Tournament Team

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic legislators in Virginia have dramatically reshaped the state in two months, sweeping aside many of the state’s old business-friendly and socially conservative laws and replacing them with a broad, progressive policy agenda.

Lawmakers wrapped up this year’s session Sunday — apart from passing the state budget — after advancing the South’s strictest gun laws, broadest LGBTQ protections and some of its loosest abortion restrictions. Democrats had not had full control of the legislature for more than two decades, and their years of pent-up frustrations yielded one of the most consequential sessions in Virginia’s history.

Some of Virginia’s scores of Confederate monuments could soon be removed under legislation state lawmakers approved Sunday. The Democratic-led House and Senate passed measures that would undo an existing state law that protects the monuments and instead lets local governments decide their fate. The bill’s passage marks the latest turn in Virginia’s long-running debate over how its history should be told in public spaces.

Virginia lawmakers have also approved a broad expansion of gambling options in a state that’s been largely loath to embracing new betting options in the past. Lawmakers gave final approval Sunday to legislation to allow voters in Bristol, Danville, Richmond, Norfolk and Portsmouth to hold local referendums later this year on whether to approve casinos. Legislators also have approved the expansion of slot-like machines and signed off on online lottery sales and sports betting. Gov. Ralph Northam still needs to give final approval before the legislation can become law.

(From VDH) The first presumptive positive case in Virginia is a Marine Base Corps Quantico resident who is at Fort Belvoir. The second individual is a resident of the City of Fairfax in their 80s who traveled on a similar Nile River cruise as other positive coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. The patient began to develop symptoms of respiratory illness on February 28, was hospitalized on March 5, and remains in stable condition. Health officials will provide more information on these case investigations and what is being done to identify and monitor other close contacts and protect the health of Virginians. The Virginia Department of Health will hold a news conference at 1pm to provide a status report.
Governor Northam and Cabinet officials have been briefed. Officials at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and the Virginia Department of Health are working cooperatively, according to longstanding public health protocols. The teams are in regular and close communication with federal, state, local, and private sector partners.
Public health officials caution that evidence has not been seen of COVID-19 spreading in Virginia and said the risk is low. Public health officials remind people in Virginia and on military installations to take precautions:
• 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 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.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers approved a proposed change to the state’s constitution on Friday that supporters said would curb political gerrymandering, prompting an outcry by some Democrats who called it harmful to African Americans.
The state House narrowly voted to approve the proposed constitutional amendment that would task a bipartisan commission made up of lawmakers and citizens with drawing new congressional and legislative maps every 10 years. The measure, which critics called deeply flawed, passed last year with broad bipartisan support now heads to voters for a final decision in the fall.

Virginia lawmakers also gave final passage Friday to a sweeping energy bill that would overhaul how the state’s utilities generate electricity, a measure environmental groups and other renewable energy advocates considered a historic step toward addressing climate change.

The state Senate advanced the Virginia Clean Economy Act on a vote of 22-17, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam a day after the House passed it. The measure was a top priority of leaders of the new Democratic majority that took control of the General Assembly in last fall’s elections.

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