Northam | Coronavirus

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver issued a public health emergency order to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, on March 17.

The state issued an order Tuesday night that allows law enforcement to enforce a ban that prohibits more than 10 patrons in places such as restaurants, fitness centers and theaters.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver issued a public health emergency order to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19.

“I hope that everyone will have the common sense to stay home tonight and in the days ahead,” Northam said. “This order will ensure that state and local officials have the tools they need to keep people safe.”

All Virginians should increase social distancing, avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, the state said. This follows federal guidelines announced Monday. 

Oliver announced at Tuesday’s press conference that two people have died from the disease and 67 people are confirmed to have it, including one patient who is currently in a long-term care facility which he said was “very concerning.” Oliver said about 48 tests are currently pending. The first confirmed case was announced on March 7.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high but the individual risk is dependent upon exposure. People over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions were urged to self-quarantine due to elevated vulnerability to the disease.

Oliver said that there are currently 300 to 400 COVID-19 testing kits in the commonwealth, with more on order. 

“I don’t want you to think that you are just getting a cold,” Oliver said. “This is a serious, serious pandemic and social distancing is, therefore, something we should do and take seriously, for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community.”

Oliver also said that there are federal plans to launch automated test sites and drive-through testing centers nationwide in the areas that have been hit the hardest by the disease.

Sentara Healthcare has opened several drive-through testing centers in Hampton Roads for those who are at the highest risk for the disease.

Northam has also rolled out new measures to support workers across the state that are being affected by closures due to the coronavirus, including eliminating the wait for unemployment benefits and increased eligibility for unemployment status. 

Workers may be able to qualify for unemployment if their employer slows or ceases operations due to the disease, if they have been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official but are not receiving sick pay or medical leave or if they are not receiving paid medical leave while staying home to take care of sick family members. The one-week unpaid waiting period was waived for benefits, and unemployment funds are available through the Virginia Employment Commission, Northam said. 

The state ordered all 75 offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles to close, in addition to urging the Supreme Court of Virginia to close all courts until April 6 for non-emergency or non-essential court proceedings. Online services are still available, the governor said, and 60-day extensions have been granted for expired licenses and registrations.

The State Corporation Commission also issued an order to suspend utility service disconnections for the next 60 days in order to provide relief for those financially impacted by COVID-19. 

“Together we will get through this and we will be a better Virginia,” Northam said. “Every single one of us has a personal responsibility in this situation, every one of us has a role in being part of the solution.”

The Virginia Department of Health currently has a 24-hour Coronavirus information hotline that can be reached at 877-ASK-VDH3 or 877-275-8343 for questions about the disease.


(11) comments

pual mase

Here we go again......

Another article about a state government action to control the virus and the politic hacks on the left take the opportunity to attack Trump.

Give the “Resistance” a break shut up if you can’t be constructive.


uh....I don't think anyone is blaming Trump FOR the virus. He's getting a lot of pushback for lack of early response, questions about preparedness for this kind of emergency, and changes in the admin that weakened our pandemic response.

I think it's time Tumpists dropped the knee-jerk paranoia of "trump under attack" defense and started analyzing the facts on their own. Trump gave himself a "10" yesterday on his response to the crisis. A real leader would have demurred on the question saying "let's wait until all is said and done before we rate anything."

He shows his lack of savvy, skill and smarts (and gross absence of situational awareness) when he praises himself.

True leaders (not Dear Leaders or dictators) let results speak for themselves and never fear the constant analysis and yes, often criticism that comes with the job.


Amazing how Trump is always blamed for everything. They talk about him being racist because the virus started in China. How about MSNBC, CNN and others calling it the Trumpvirus? Wow what haters and hypocrites. Time to take a stand America citizens and decide what you want for your life. Do you want control of your life to be in the hands of liberal social communists, who turn their back on America and American citizens in support of communist China? What is wrong with you people? Unless you have traveled to China over the years as I have numerous times, shut up. You do not know what you are talking about and you have no idea what goes on over there. IT is scary. How about supporting our fellow Americans who are living here in the great USA regardless of where their origin is. No turn your back on America and attack the President, First Lady, First Family and all Americans who support freedom and our constitutional rights. Those of you with TDS need to go and get help. Not sure what you need but you need something. Get over it and protect America, quit attacking America.


Amazing how you think trump is blamed for everything when he is blaming everyone else. Thought for you, maybe they are defending themselves against what he has said. Nobody called it a trumpvirus, prove it. Another off topic rant about liberals, you need help, counseling, something.


I hope the court system complies too. Jurors, lawyers, witnesses will all be exposed. I

More Cowbell

Will that 60 day be added onto the new license required to fly, which I think is by Oct)? Also, anyone putting in for unemployment and can't substantiate will be required to pay back, although the agency doesn't have a process in place to get that money. They just hope the person eventually gets a job in VA and they can garnish their wages.


Good -- no more press conferences from camera hog bureaucrats.


What, did the President say he wasn't going to get on camera anymore?

I'll save us from hearing time and again that he knew it was a pandemic from the start even though the videotape contradicts him (as usual).

Duncan Idaho

Don't look for consistency from Trumpists. What applies to others doesn't apply to Dear Orange Leader, who does no wrong.


Why don't you listen to the press conferences. It is not just the President speaking it is also the head of the FDA, Dr. Faucci, Dr. Birx and the Surgeon General. It seems that you have closed your mind and refuse to hear what the experts say. Give it a rest already and put your hatred aside.


You know trump can't give up the limelight, what about his ratings?

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