Health official cautions against further reopening

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the earliest the state would consider entering Phase II in its reopening process would be this Friday, June 5.

While the date is tentative and Northam has not gone into detail regarding what restrictions will be eased during Phase II, Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash said Thursday, May 28, that the state and, more specifically, Prince Edward County is not ready to further relax regulations.

“It appears as though Virginia still has increasing case numbers on a daily and weekly basis,” Nash said. “Therefore, we should not be considering relaxing any mitigation measures at this point.

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“Consistent with that, our numbers from Prince Edward County have not demonstrated a decline either. Our community has to demonstrate documented success with mitigation measures in Phase I before even considering a timeline discussion regarding Phase II. We are not there yet.”

In an interview last week, Dr. Nash expressed concern in Prince Edward County’s recent increase in case numbers, the majority of which are attributed to community spread in the county. Most of the county’s new cases have been located in the Farmville area zip code.

Some local governments in Virginia had asked the governor to delay reopening their counties after experiencing larger increases in positive tests.

Farmville Mayor David Whitus did not have plans as of Monday afternoon to ask that Northam delay any sort of Phase II of the reopening process for Prince Edward County.

“The town is following the governor’s executive orders on reopening and we are awaiting the timeline and guidelines for Phase II,” Whitus said.

Farmville 701 District Supervisor Jim Wilck said that he respected Nash’s opinion on the subject of reopening. He said he recently became aware someone he knew had been hospitalized as a result of the virus. Wilck was slightly perturbed at the amount of people he had seen not wearing masks as of late.

“We do need to be open, but I think if we open up too quickly it will cause problems,” Wilck said.

Wilck said he did not have any plans as of Monday to ask the governor to delay Prince Edward’s entrance into Phase II. Farmville 801 District Supervisor Pattie Cooper-Jones and Prospect District Supervisor and Board Vice Chair J. David Emert also did not plan to ask Northam to delay Phase II. Emert added that the board was waiting to hear the governor’s details regarding the second phase of reopening.