RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam took to a podium in Richmond on Thursday afternoon to declare a state of emergency in Virginia.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday afternoon, Northam also advised all Virginians to avoid large gatherings “for the time being.” He said he was canceling all state conferences and large events for the next 30 days and announced new restrictions on travel for state workers.
“Our top priority is to make sure Virginians stay safe and healthy, and that our response to this situation leaves no one behind,” said Governor Northam. “From our health department, to our schools, to our hospitals, to our transit systems, Virginia’s agencies and institutions have been thoroughly planning for every scenario. This emergency declaration will ensure we can continue to prepare for and appropriately respond to Virginians’ needs during this time.”
The governor’s emergency declaration is an administrative tool that allows for additional flexibility in dealing with the outbreak.
Here are some major parts of Northam’s announcement:
- Virginia has over 100,000 state employees stationed throughout the Commonwealth. Governor Northam has halted all official travel outside of Virginia by state employees, with increased flexibility for inter-state commuters and essential personnel. Specific guidance will be released to agency heads and state employees, and Virginia will revisit these guidelines after 30 days.
- In accordance with advice from state public health experts, the Commonwealth of Virginia will cancel all specially-scheduled state conferences and large events for a minimum of 30 days.
- While containing the spread of the public health threat remains a top priority, Governor Northam is working with state and local partners to ensure Virginia are prepared for any continued economic disruption.
This comes as 17 people have “presumptively positive” cases of the coronavirus in Virginia as of March 12, 2020.
These cases are “presumptively positive,” meaning they are pending confirmatory testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).