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Phase One of Virginia COVID-19 slow reopen still on schedule for Friday

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

Virginia is moving ahead toward Phase One of the slow reopen from Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 lockdown.

An executive order signed by the governor last week lays out the reopen, allowing non-essential retail and churches to open at up to 50 percent of capacity, allowing restaurants and breweries with outdoor seating to open at 50 percent of outdoor-seating capacity, and reopening personal grooming establishments and private campgrounds.

Northam has said these policies will remain in place for a minimum of two weeks, based on conditions on the ground.

Earlier this week, Northam acceded to the request of local leaders in Northern Virginia to allow those localities to remain in what is being called Phase Zero through May 28 to allow the public health situation in that part of the state to catch up.

A region encompassing the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna currently accounts for 54.5 percent of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, 55.9 percent of the cumulative COVID-19 hospitalizations and 51.7 percent of the deaths.

Recent trends in those areas are trending in the right direction, Northam indicated at his Wednesday COVID-19 press conference.

And the data for the state as a whole are also trending positively. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association COVID-19 dashboard has 1,526 COVID-19 patients in Virginia hospitals, accounting for 8.4 percent of the state’s overall hospital capacity.

One trend that is disturbing, and has been since the start of the lockdown in mid-March, is the death toll in Virginia’s long-term care facilities.

The latest numbers from the Virginia Department of Health attribute 545 of the 927 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia as occurring in long-term care facilities, representing 58.8 percent of the overall death toll.

For perspective, there are in the area of 90,000 Virginians in long-term care facilities, according to the Virginia Health Care Association/Virginia Center for Assisted Living.

That’s just over 1 percent of the state’s 8.6 million population, accounting for just under 60 percent of the mortality from COVID-19.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press