• 73°

Suffolk city offices closed Monday

City offices will be closed Monday to allow officials to review and determine operating procedures going forward during the coronavirus pandemic.

This follows national, state and local emergency declarations, as well as the first death in Virginia due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. There are 45 people who have COVID-19 cases in the state, with 44 of those being active cases.

The closure includes the treasurer’s office and the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office inside City Hall and at the North Suffolk Library. All libraries, recreation centers, the visitor’s center, Suffolk Art Gallery and Suffolk Seaboard Coastline Railroad Museum will also be closed.

The Mills Godwin Jr. Courts Building and related courts will be open under their normal schedule.

Suffolk Transit and the Suffolk Executive Airport will also operate under their normal schedules. Though all city parks and playgrounds are open, the city recommends social distancing.

City employees are expected to report to work during this time.

The city is encouraging residents to use online options to do its business and to call the main line at 514-4000 with any questions.

All K-12 schools in Virginia are closed through at least March 27.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday a temporary statewide ban on public events with more than 100 people.

“It’s just not a good idea for that many people to be that close to each other right now,” Northam said during a news conference. “We ask people to use common sense.”

Northam said the public gathering ban does not include normal operations at airports, offices, hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores or other retail businesses.

“What we are trying to achieve here is the kind of social distancing that experts tell us is critical to stopping the spread of the virus,” Northam said. “We all want to end this pandemic.”

Northam urged residents to stay home, especially those in areas such as the Peninsula where there have been a cluster of people who have COVID-19.

“If you’re going to a crowded bar or a large church full of people, I would urge you to rethink those plans,” Northam said. “Ask yourself if it’s really that important that you go out right now. Social distancing now can save lives later.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said the health department is doing contact investigations with hundreds of contacts of the 44 active cases in the state to trace down new cases and to isolate those people.

Oliver said he is concerned with the eight identified cases in the Peninsula Health District, and more than 300 contacts VDH is investigating.

“We are concerned about the likelihood of actual community spread of COVID-19,” Oliver said.

At the state lab, he said there are 500 to 600 tests available depending on how many specimens come in from each person. Private labs have been coming online, increasing the state’s ability to test people to determine if they have COVID-19.

Many tests, Oliver said, are pending.