RICHMOND, Va. — When the Virginia General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday a large crowd of protesters who want Gov. Ralph Northam to reopen the commonwealth may be there to greet them.
Virginians from across the commonwealth came together for a rally at 11 a.m. in Richmond. The protesters expressed their demands that Northam end the stay-at-home order and reopen Virginia's economy far sooner than the tentative June 10 date.
"If Virginians don't unite to reopen our economy, now, we might not have an economy to reopen later," David Britt, one of the organizers of the #ReOpen Virginia Rally said in a statement.
During an April 20 news conference, Northam advised the protesters not for acting on their First Amendment rights, but for their lack of proper safety precautions.
"These people that are out protesting, that are not following the guidelines of social distancing and not wearing facial protection, are literally putting themselves at risk. They're putting all of us at risk, and they're putting our health care providers at risk," Northam said.
Testing capabilities and results are going to help determine when Virginia reopens its economy, Northam said during a news conference on April 20.
"Testing is the key to those next steps," Northam said. “We need to see 14 days of decreasing numbers before we can ease restrictions. We haven't seen that yet."
Northam issued a mandatory stay-at-home order on March 30. The order still allows residents to leave their homes for certain essential activities, like shopping for food and seeking medical treatment.
There are now 9,630 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in Virginia. A total of 324 people have died. The commonwealth also reports more than 100 outbreaks, a majority of which have happened at long-term care facilities.
The highest concentration of cases remains Fairfax County, where about 2,000 cases have been reported so far.
As the number of cases continues to climb, the closure of non-essential businesses in Virginia has been extended for two more weeks.
Executive Order 53, which temporarily closed restaurant dining sections, entertainment/recreational businesses, and non-essential retail businesses that could not practice social distancing, was extended by Northam to May 8.
What precautions should you take?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wear a mask if you have to make an essential trip outside
- 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.
Reasons to leave your home under stay-at-home order:
- Grocery store trips
- Medical visits or trips to the pharmacy
- Travel to your essential job
- Exercise such as walks, hikes or bike rides
Commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 infection include:
- Shortness of breath
If you are sick or suspect you are infected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking the followings steps:
- Stay home except to get medical care
- Avoid public areas, including work or school
- Avoid public transportation
- Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
- Contact your doctor via telemedicine for more guidance
Check the status of the virus in your state with your state health department's websites by tapping below: