’I will not hesitate’: Mayor Stoney will seek to have VCU close if COVID-19 cases spike

Stoney not afraid to close VCU if virus cases spike

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - During Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Mayor Levar Stoney did not mince words when reflecting on his alma mater James Madison University after its decision to go virtual after it reported 513 active COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

“If I were to see that same threat at VCU, I would not hesitate to talk to Dr. Rao and Governor Northam about closing things down, shutting things down, going virtual, and getting students out of dorms, I would not hesitate,” said Stoney.

So far, VCU is still a far cry away from JMU’s active case total after experiencing an initial spike when the university opened its doors back up to students. According to VCU’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are 91 active cases of the virus among students and three active cases among employees.

“We had a little bit of spike here at VCU, but I was looking at the COVID-19 dashboard and the numbers are actually going down, people are getting better and a lot more people are testing negative,” said freshman John Yap. “The university is doing a pretty good job in my opinion of opening-up, they could have done some better things so far, but from what they’ve done so far it’s been pretty good.”

Since classes at VCU began, students wearing masks around campus and social distancing are quickly becoming the new normal. Students say the fear of having to go home early like many students were forced to do at JMU is a scenario they are trying to avoid.

“If other people are wearing them, you’re probably going to be more likely to wear one yourself,” said sophomore student Noah Ford.

“Everybody here is pretty much social distancing and wearing their mask,” said Ashlyn Jones.

“You don’t want to go hurt somebody else that’s working at a restaurant or an older couple... so you have to have more of a responsibility,” said freshman student Sydney Allen.

Despite Stoney’s statement, even if VCU case count increased to the point where the closure of in-person classes was considered, he says ultimately he would have to consult Governor Northam before any decision is made and to closely look at the data.

“I can always request the governor to close the institution if necessary,” said Stoney. “The data will always drive our decision making.”

“I don’t think anybody wants to get sent home, so we’re going to try to the best we can to stay,” said Jones.

“If it does happen, I think the mayor is just looking out for our best interests honestly,” said Yap.

VCU says they declined to comment about Stoney’s statement because their number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has remained considerably lower than JMU’s.

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