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Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, JMU address local COVID-19 concerns

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Community leaders in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County and at JMU are highlighting local efforts to combat a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

There have been 307 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Harrisonburg and Rockingham this week, and the vast majority of recent positive cases are for individuals under the age of 29.

Leaders are emphasizing that it is vital that people in this age group take seriously their responsibility to protect the health and wellness of themselves and all others they may come in contact with in our community.

“Our city, county and university teams have been meeting on a regular basis to plan for the safe return of students,” JMU President Jonathan Alger said. “With the recent spike, we are redoubling our partnership in an effort to prevent the spread among students and throughout the community.”

On Tuesday, university leadership determined it was necessary to temporarily transition students to online learning.

This difficult decision was made with the utmost care and concern for the safety of faculty and staff, students and the greater Harrisonburg and Rockingham County communities.

“Despite the transition for JMU students to learn online, our work is not done,” Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed said. “We are in this together. This disease doesn’t care who you are or what you think. I care so much about this city, our community and about our universities, and I know we can successfully combat this virus, but only if we commit to the fact that we’re all in this together and all must do our part.”

In order stop the spread in the community, it is critical that students and residents wear a mask and maintain physical distance from others. Everyone should remember that you are safer staying at home, and you should especially stay home if you are experiencing signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Following these guidelines is the best way to protect the health and wellness of our shared community.

JMU leaders will continue to closely monitor student behavior and gatherings that draw crowds on or off campus.

“As we continue as a community to move through COVID-19, let’s please remember how important it is for all of us to mask-up, to wash-up, and maintain our social distancing,” said William Kyger Jr., chair of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors.

With much misinformation and during a global pandemic, members of the community are reminded of the following accurate resources for information:

Sentara RMH Medical Center has capacity for testing and patients. The Virginia Department of Health will offer free testing to symptomatic individuals on Sept. 11.

This testing is available for anyone in the community, including students. You can register by calling 540-574-5101.

“We are happy to have students back, but we need to ensure the safety of our entire community,” Mayor Reed said. “Please continue to follow CDC and VDH guidance by wearing a mask, physically distancing and staying home if you are sick or experiencing symptoms. It is tough now, but it will pay off in the long run.”

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