COVID-19 patients in Virginia now number 115

Published 2:19 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

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The cases of COVID-19 in Virginia are up to at least 115.

At noon Friday, the Virginia Department of Health was reporting 114 cases, a number compiled at 5 p.m. Thursday, prior to the release of information regarding a Suffolk patient who tested positive.

Other positive cases are also reported in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Portsmouth.

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The number of people tested has risen to 2,325, according to the Virginia Department of Health. There are 20 people hospitalized, and two have died of the disease, both in James City County.

In a Friday morning news conference with Gov. Ralph Northam, State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said there are 35 more tests being processed Friday, “so that count will go up.”

Oliver also urged Virginians to continue practicing social distancing.

“We do not have a medicine for COVID-19,” he said. “We do not have a vaccine for COVID -19. The only thing we have to prevent the spread of this disease is social distancing, so we need to all do that.”

Oliver also said new criteria about who can be tested would be released on Friday, possibly allowing more people to be tested. However, he said the idea of blanket testing is not on the table right now.

“We have to have some criteria,” he said.

Northam thanked most citizens and businesses for heeding the social distancing warnings and reminded that local authorities have the power to enforce the restrictions of no more than 10 people in restaurants, gyms and similar establishments at a time.

“I know Virginians want to do the right thing so we can get through this situation together,” he said.

Northam also spent a great deal of time acknowledging that this situation is hard on people’s mental health.

“I know this is hard on people’s morale,” he said. “It is very, very stressful; it is scary.”

He urged anyone who is feeling depressed or suicidal to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Unemployment claims are also on the rise in the state, as the restrictions have affected a lot of people’s income. Virginians are urged to file for unemployment if this situation has affected their income, even if they don’t meet all of the rules right now, as the rules are changing constantly from the U.S. Department of Labor in the face of this unprecedented event.