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State provides more funding to help businesses

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gave an update Wednesday, Oct. 28, about the status of coronavirus infections in the state and the efforts underway to control the virus while rebuilding the state’s economy.

Northam was satisfied overall with most regions in Virginia where cases are remaining steady or declining. Case levels have risen slightly statewide but nothing like the surge seen in other areas of the country as 29 states have reported record numbers of infections in the past week.

Ralph S. Northam

The only region of Virginia seeing a steady increase of cases is southwest Virginia. The rate of positivity of tests in the region is at 8%, double the rate in the rest of the state. Health officials believe small family gatherings are causing community spread at levels not seen in the region before.

Northam said more enacting tougher restrictions is not something in the state’s plans right now.

“In other states and other countries they are reimposing restrictions to get case numbers under better control. Nobody, nobody wants to have to do that but this virus remains a very real threat. We are keeping an eye on that,” he said.

In a continuing effort to keep small businesses around the state viable, Northam announced more grant opportunities for small business through Rebuild Virginia. The $70 million program is designed to provide grants to small business and nonprofits that have not received federal help.

“Today, we are dramatically expanding the program, adding more money and making more businesses and nonprofits eligible,” Northam said.

The maximum grant provided by the program has increased from $10,000 to $100,000. To support the additional grant funding, another $30 million has been added to the program from federal CARES Act money provided to the state for coronavirus relief efforts.

“Rebuild Virginia will now be open to all types of small businesses and nonprofits in Virginia that meet size requirements and other criteria, from restaurants to summer camps to farmers to our retail shops,” Northam said. “Small businesses and nonprofits are the backbone of our economy and they will be the backbone of our recovery.”

Locally, Prince Edward County has seen a fairly substantial increase in coronavirus cases past two days with 19 new cases reported from Monday, Oct. 26 to Wednesday, Oct. 28. Dr. H. Robert Nash said earlier in the week the district is seeing cases increase from community spread. State health officials stressed that families should exercise caution when in small gatherings and maintain social distancing while wearing masks.