ROANOKE, Va. – On Friday, North Carolina joined the list of 20 other states issuing a legal mandate for residents to shelter-in-place. The order only allows people to go out for essential trips.
Gov. Ralph Northam has given the same messaging to Virginians, but has not ordered a shelter-in-place law. On Friday, Northam said what he’s doing has the same effect.
“We’re talking semantics here, we’re talking about how to enforce, I think if you go back and listen to my comments, not only today, but from previous days. I have said stay at home," Northam said.
In the last two weeks, Northam has tightened down. First it was schools, then restaurants, and eventually closing down personal care businesses.
Delegate Sam Rasoul said that’s not enough.
“There’s a big difference of us coming down with a shelter-in-place is really important and to be direct so people understand we’re in the middle of a war, this war on coronavirus," Rasoul said.
Rasoul fears the United States is just weeks behind the devastation in Italy and on pace to see more deaths. The website covidactnow.org compares projected patient load against available hospital capacity.
The graph above shows what could happen if we did nothing, far outpacing hospital availability.
It also shows a projected outcome if we practice social distancing which we are currently doing. In that scenario we still outpace hospital availability, but by less.
The only prediction that shows Virginia not outpacing hospital capacity is a three-month shelter in place order.
Roanoke Vice Mayor Joe Cobb said he’s concerned that not everyone is heading the caution.
“It’s a mixed bag, I think there are a number of people who are not taking it at the level of severity that they need to," Cobb said.
Cobb said everyone needs to be leaders in prevention, but even with that it might not be enough.
My concern is that the time for us to be in front of it is fast behind us," Cobb said.
Rasoul and other delegates continue to call upon the governor to order the shelter in place. But as of right now, that’s not happening, and Rasoul fears the worst.
“People are going to die that don’t need to because we will not have hospital capacity. We have a very limited number of hospital beds, relative to the number of sick that we’re going to see," Rasoul said.
Rasoul added the research he’s viewed predicts the American death count from the coronavirus will overtake 9/11, 2,977, by the end of next week.