RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Mayor Levar Stoney announced plans to help residents with COVID-19 isolate through funding from the CARES Act Thursday afternoon. He’s also asking the governor to make a mandate that would require people to wear masks in the city.
“I just believe wearing a mask is the most respectful thing you can do in this moment,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said.
This comes just one week of Governor Northam’s Order that allowed the city of Richmond to delay entering Phase one, which is set to expire next Thursday.
“We are already hearing so many anecdotal reports of people being out and about and not wearing their mask and that’s really concerning as we are all heading into reopening,” Richmond and Henrico Health Director Danny Avula said.
But Stoney says that type of mandate must come from Governor Northam.
“I’ve penned a letter to the governor suggesting mandating mask-wearing as a matter of law,” Stoney said.
The city also announced it will help provide hotel rooms and other needs to those who can’t afford to isolate using some of the $20 million funding through the CARES Act.
According to a release from the city, "boxing in the virus” in this manner requires that every COVID-19 positive patient effectively self-isolate, ensuring they do not spread the virus to family members, friends or the general public.
However, a prolonged, secure period of self-isolation is not possible for many Richmonders.
“The truth is that not all people are safer at home,” Mayor Stoney said. “Some aren’t fortunate enough to have a home large enough to isolate from loved ones.”
The city and Richmond City Health District will partner with the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care, a coalition of service providers with expertise in the intersection of physical security and human services due to their charge of aiding those experiencing homelessness.
The basic needs of those who choose to isolate, such as food and COVID-19 related primary care, will be funded through the Family Crisis Fund and safety net provider network. The program will be facilitated by the Richmond City Health District.
“Let me be clear, this program is specifically for those who cannot isolate safely, not a vacation for those who can,” Mayor Stoney said. “These COVID-19 patients will be cared for and sheltered for the good of themselves, their families, and the entire city.”
There are now 888 positive COVID-19 cases in Richmond with 20 COVID-19 related deaths.
More than a dozen Richmond city employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials are reiterating their plea for everyone to continue wearing masks.
“Wearing a mask is the most respectful thing you can do in this pandemic,” Mayor Stoney said in a Thursday press conference.
Mayor Stoney says he has penned a letter to Governor Ralph Northam asking for help to mandate wearing a mask for the city of Richmond.
Stoney says this is a state issue the Governor can remedy and believes it should be statewide.
The Mayor ended with an appeal to the city’s communal sense of unity and compassion: “I know you’d want it for your family members; Richmond is my family. Let’s take care of each other.”
- Friday, May 22 at Eastlawn Shopping Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 27 at Eastern Henrico Recreation Center and Southwood Apartments from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday, May 30 at Martin Luther King Middle School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Testing will be conducted by appointment to facilitate safety and social distancing. To register to get tested, call the Richmond and Henrico hotline at 804-205-3501.
Other city leaders spoke during Thursday’s press conference.
Richmond School Superintendent Jason Kamras says meals will continue going out to families over the summer.
As of Thursday, over 600,000 free meals have been provided.
School officials will not turn their attention to celebrating high school seniors at the end of June.
“They will be in football fields and gyms with social distancing. Our seniors will have caps and gowns and can take pictures with their family and principal and so on,” Jason Kamras said.
A virtual ceremony is also in the works.
As many local businesses prepare to reopen next week Chamber RVA are helping mall business owners prepare.
President and CEO Brian Anderson says his team will distribute starter kits for those with 25 employees or less.
The kits will include personal protective equipment and sanitizer to get the businesses started. Anderson hopes this will help ease concerns.
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