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Stay At Home Order issued

After a weekend of warm temperatures when many Virginians packed the beaches and parks, Gov. Ralph S. Northam issued a Stay-at- Home Order to counteract the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Northam issued the order in a Monday afternoon, March 30, press conference. He said a weekend of gatherings and disregard for the recent state guidance on social distancing caused him to tighten the regulations.

“This weekend some of our beaches and other recreational areas were literally packed. Everyone who is gathering in a crowd at any place around the state is putting themselves and others at risk,” Northam said. “So today, I am announcing a state at home order for all Virginians.”

The Stay-at-Home Order is effective immediately and will remain in place until June 10.

The order states that everyone must remain in their place of residence unless they must go out for food, supplies, work, medical care or to get fresh air or exercise. The order closes Virginia’s beaches except for fishing and exercise. Short-term stays at campgrounds are also prohibited.

The Stay-at-Home Order follows social distancing guidelines of Executive Order Fifty-Three that was issued last week. That order effectively limited restaurants to take out and closed many businesses deemed non-essential.

“I want to be clear, do not go out unless you need to go out. This is very different than wanting to go out,” Northam said. “Don’t go to the store to get just one thing. Wait until you have a list.”

The order comes as COVID-19 cases continue to grow by double-digit percentages every day in Virginia. The state broke the 1,000 case mark Monday with 1,020 cases, an almost 15% increase from the previous day. There are 125 hospitalizations. Deaths from the coronavirus now number 25.

The area’s first death from COVID-19 was announced late Monday afternoon as Piedmont Health District of the Virginia Department of Health released a statement saying a man in his 70s had died from the virus. The Piedmont Health District is made up of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.

Northam pointed out that half of the diagnosed COVID-19 cases are in people under 50.

The Stay-at-Home effort is designed to reduce potential strain on the medical system. Virginia has approximately 18,500 hospital beds with 2,000 of those designated for ICU patients.

“How many more (beds) we need depends on the actions we take right now,” Northam said. “But we know we will need more.”

Northam said the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to identify sites for temporary hospital facilities. VCU Health recently announced plans to re-open a closed hospital in South Hill to be used exclusively for COVID-19 patients.

“We are at the beginning of a period of sacrifice. This is an unprecedented and difficult time and it will be hard for people,” Northam said. “But I have faith in you as Virginians. We need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly and we will get through this together.”