New restrictions put in place as Virginia sets record new cases

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Photo by VCU Capital News Service via Flickr under Creative Commons License

Governor Northam giving a COVID-19 announcement on March 23.

Joseph Triolo, News Editor

Governor Northam announces new restrictions amid soaring COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The announcement comes just a couple days after Virginia set a new single-day case record at 2103 cases.

On Friday evening, Governor Northam’s office released a press release detailing the new restrictions. “We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” said Governor Northam in defense of the new restrictions. “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.”

The new restrictions will begin at midnight on Sunday, November 15. The restrictions will cap public and private indoor and outdoor gatherings at 25 people, a reduction from the current cap of 250. The mask mandate will be extended to anyone over the age of five. The Governor also announced stricter regulations on businesses. “While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to [mask mandates, social distancing, and stricter cleaning] as a best practice,” says the press release, “violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.”

“Virginia is averaging 1,500 newly-reported COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May,” reads the amended Executive Order 67, “While Southwest Virginia has experienced a spike in the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, all five of the Commonwealth’s health regions are currently reporting a positivity rate over five percent. Although hospital capacity remains stable, hospitalizations have increased statewide by more than 35 percent in the last four weeks.”

The new restrictions are an urgent attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. “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,” stated Governor Northam.  “I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives.”