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/AP) - 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 in Virginia?

Governor Ralph Northam announced a statewide mask mandate which took effect on Friday. The mandate requires anyone in an indoor public space to wear a face mask. Enforcement comes down to business owners whose permit or licenses to operate could be on the line.

The City of Richmond is officially in phase one of re-opening along with Northern Virginia and Accomack County.

Friday, all public beaches in the state reopened following guidelines similar to Virginia Beach.


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 Saturday, officials reported more than 43,611 COVID-19 positive tests, more than 1,300 deaths and more than 4,600 hospitalizations throughout the state.

That means if one person is tested three-times and all three tests come back positive, it counts as three instead of how the numbers were being counted before, which would have only been one because it was a single patient.


How Many Deaths?

As of May 30, the Virginia Department of Health was reporting 1,370 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 more than 50 deaths in Henrico, many 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.


Reopening Virginia - Phase One

Northam allowed some nonessential businesses to reopen on May 15 in most of the state. Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County also joined in Phase One of reopening on Friday, May 29.

Under Phase One of the guidelines, stores and churches can operate at 50 percent occupancy. Restaurants can offer outside seating at 50 percent as well.

On May 22, Virginia Beach reopened for recreational activities with limitations. All other beaches in the state will remain closed except for exercise and fishing.

Takeout and delivery are still encouraged during this time. Check out a list of some restaurants offering takeout and delivery, HERE.

For a full breakdown of guidelines, CLICK HERE.

Northam announced a statewide mask mandate that went into effect on Friday. The mandate will require anyone in an indoor public space to wear a face mask.


Do I Need to Wear a Mask?

Yes. Governor Ralph Northam announced a statewide mask mandate that began Friday, May 29. The mandate requires anyone in an indoor public space to wear a face mask.

A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf, or bandana.

Under the Governor’s executive order, any person age ten and older must wear a mask or face covering at all times while entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time in the following public settings:

  • Personal care and grooming businesses
  • Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retailers including grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Food and beverage establishments
  • Entertainment or public amusement establishments when permitted to open
  • Train stations, bus stations, and on intrastate public transportation, including in waiting or congregating areas
  • State and local government buildings and areas where the public accesses services
  • Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than ten minutes

Will the mask requirement be enforced?

Enforcement comes down to business owners whose permit or licenses to operate could be on the line.

“The criminal code is not the place you want this enforced. There are tremendous equity issues with enforcing this that we’re cognitive of and there are very practical issues of our police and sheriffs had to enforce this. So we’ve taken that off the table,” said Clark Mercer, Northam’s Chief of Staff.

VDH has the power to enforce violations through a court order but hopes it doesn’t need to.

“We hope and expect Virginians will work together to comply with these important guidelines — and we have an enforcement mechanism in place should egregious violations occur,” said a VDH official in a statement.


Stay-at-Home Order

Northam announced an official “stay-at-home” order on March 23 that began immediately and will last until June 10 unless rescinded or amended.


Will it be enforced?

Yes. Anyone caught not complying with guidelines under 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.


What’s going on with the IRS stimulus check?

Government relief checks began arriving in Americans’ bank accounts in April as the economic damage to the U.S. from the coronavirus piled up.

Paper checks have also started to be sent out and will go out to recipients based on income ranges. You can find a full schedule, HERE.

The Treasury also says that Social Security beneficiaries who typically do not file a tax return will automatically receive the $1,200 payment.

Haven’t gotten it yet though? People can now track the date their COVID-19 relief payment scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them.


What’s Happening Nationally?

More than 100,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. It is a once-unthinkable toll that now appears to be just the beginning of untold misery in the months ahead as Las Vegas casinos and Walt Disney World make plans to reopen, crowds of unmasked Americans swarm beaches and public health officials predict a resurgence by fall.

Tens of thousands of doctors and nurses have gotten sick from taking care of COVID-19 patients, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Tuesday the federal agency stated more than 62,000 healthcare professionals contracted the coronavirus in the U.S., a big jump from the more than 9,200 that the CDC reported back in mid-April. At least 291 health care workers have died from the virus.

SeaWorld and Walt Disney World will reopen in Orlando, Florida, in June and July after months of inactivity because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to plans a city task force approved Wednesday.


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!

Trump says his administration and the CDC is encouraging many Americans to wear face masks in public. The new guidance is raising concern that it could lead to a sudden run on masks. Some in the U.S. already have begun acquiring or creating face masks of their own even before this week.

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.


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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