News to Know: As COVID-19 continues to spread, here’s everything you need to know

News to Know: As COVID-19 continues to spread, here’s everything you need to know
To make it easier to stay up to date, NBC12 put everything you need to know in one place. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As the coronavirus continues to dominate headlines, NBC12 put everything you need to know in one place to make it easier to stay up to date.

What’s Happening Nationally?

On Sunday, as deaths in New York state surpassed 1,000, President Donald Trump extended stay-at-home recommendations for a month in an abrupt turnaround from his previous stance.

The move came after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said up to 200,000 Americans could die and millions become infected if lockdowns and social distancing did not continue.

The president signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday to support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.

The $2.2 trillion legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people thrown out of work. Here’s a breakdown of how much money you’ll get.

Trump also issued an order Friday that seeks to force General Motors to produce ventilators for coronavirus patients under the Defense Production Act.

What About in Virginia?

Governor Ralph Northam announced an official “stay-at-home” order Monday that will begin immediately and last until June 10 unless rescinded or amended.

The order will allow people to leave their homes for essential services like seeking medical attention, buying groceries, banking and more. But Northam asks that anyone who can work from home to do so. Read the full order here.

Last week, Northam asked for federalized testing during the pandemic, saying Washington is not helping with a shortage of COVID-19 testing materials and personal protective equipment for health care workers.

The Virginia Finance Secretary says the federal stimulus package would give Virginia $3.3 billion, where $1.8 billion would go directly to state and $1.5 billion to cities and localities.

Where are all the cases?

Officials with the Virginia Department of Health are actively updating their website with information on the number of cases - and where they are located. On Monday, officials reported 1,020 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 25 deaths and 136 hospitalizations throughout the state.

Are There Any Deaths?

Yes. As of March 30, the Virginia Department of Health was reporting 25 total deaths in the state, but regional health districts were reporting more. Numbers are only updated by VDH once a day at 9 a.m.

The first death in Virginia was reported on March 14 and there have been at least eight deaths in Henrico, all of which were residents at a long-term care rehab facility.

On Saturday, March 28, a central Virginia health department announced the first COVID-19-related death in the Petersburg area.

What are Essential and Nonessential Businesses?

Non-essential retail can remain open but only if the business can adhere to the 10 people or fewer rule, keep people six feet apart and have proper sanitation products in place. For questions on what is essential or non-essential, email

Will it be enforced?

Yes. Anyone caught not complying with the order could be criminally charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.

“This is not a time that we are looking to put people in jail, but this is a time where we are looking for Virginians to comply," said Northam.

Can I Still Get Takeout?

Yes, restaurants and bars can remain open but for takeout or delivery service only. Check out a list of some restaurants offering takeout and delivery, HERE.

Flattening the Curve

Health officials continue to urge citizens to social distance and stay home in hopes of “flattening the curve” of the virus.

The goal is to keep the apex curve below hospital capacity.
The goal is to keep the apex curve below hospital capacity. (Source: Gray Television)

While letting the virus spread rapidly could shorten the duration of the pandemic, it could also strain hospitals. The goal is to keep the apex of the curve below hospital capacity.

How can we prevent the spread?

To help your shopping, the Environmental Protection Agency has expanded its list of disinfectants that have qualified for use against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The list contains nearly 200 additional products, including 40 new products that went through the agency’s expedited review process.

But in the end, hand washing and social distancing (staying at home) is your best bet!

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel

Who gets tested for the virus?

Currently, there are two main reasons someone would be tested for the coronavirus: having symptoms or exposure to an infected person.

The main symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. These look a lot like the flu and the common cold, so it takes a physician to determine if testing for the virus is necessary. Patients will be further screened to see if the test is able to be administered.

Virginia’s testing capacity was at 1,000 on March 22 and Governor Northam says the focus should be testing health care workers and people in nursing homes.

How does the coronavirus test work?

For a patient, the process of being tested for the virus is easy and can potentially be done almost anywhere. It typically involves taking a swab from deep in a patient’s nasal cavity to collect cells from the back of the nose.

The sample is then sent to a lab, where it will be tested to determine if the patient’s cells are infected with the virus. The same process is used to collect a sample from a patient who is tested for flu.

Is there a cure for coronavirus?

No. That’s why health officials say social distancing is the only line of defense right now. However, clinical trials for a vaccine and other treatments are underway, including two at VCU Health.

Still have questions? Here are some more answers.

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