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Northam points to May 15: ‘We will reopen Virginia next Friday’

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

Gov. Ralph Northam is extending his stay-at-home order six days, from Friday, May 8, to Thursday, May 14, but he also laid out on Monday a plan for reopening Virginia that could lead to significant reopening as early as next week.

“The message today is that we will reopen Virginia next Friday,” Northam said, laying out a three-phase reopening approach that includes easing limits on businesses, including restaurants, retail, gyms and hair salons in the first phase, with limits on social gatherings being eased in Phase 2, and all limits on social gatherings and business capacity lifted in Phase 3.

Northam said Monday in his afternoon press conference that he anticipates the phases lasting about three weeks, which would suggest a full reopening of the state possibly around June 26.

The gradual reopening is contingent upon continued good news with public-health numbers specific to COVID-19.

Virginia hospitals are still running well below capacity, three days after hospitals were permitted to begin scheduling elective surgeries after they had been shuttered for several weeks to preserve space for a flood of COVID-19 patients that never materialized.

The bulk of the damage from COVID-19 seems to have come in long-term care facilities. Nearly 56 percent of deaths from COVID-19 in Virginia have come in long-term care facilities, with 51 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Virginia being among those ages 80+.

The lockdown approach is having an unintended, but not surprising, impact on the economy, with nearly 500,000 Virginians filing initial unemployment claims since the governor declared a state of emergency back on March 12.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press