RADFORD, Va. – As with other holidays in 2020, Labor Day comes with strong warnings from medical professionals to continue practicing socially distance safeguards to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Radford city leaders are following suit as the city surpasses 500 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. According to Virginia Department of Health data, 373 of those cases were reported in August.
Mayor David Horton said as public schools reopened, Radford University students returned to campus and summer vacations ended, he expected some type of increase.
“This has risen a little faster than we would have hoped,” said Horton.
“In Radford, the cases are appearing in 20-25-year-old’s typically both on the university side and full-time residence side. It’s folks who are making choices to socialize,” said Horton.
A city ordinance limits gatherings to 50 or less. Horton said he encourages gatherings of smaller sizes.
Radford University has limited gatherings to 10 or less.
Businesses, who profit off of campus life, are trying to do their part.
Michelle Goodman owns Sweet and Savory Donuts and Bagels.
“We went to just curbside and carry-out on Sunday,” said Goodman, describing a decision made based on increasing COVID-19 infections.
Goodman anticipates a 50% loss in revenue as they close their dining room.
“If you can make it through the summer, then the students are going to be back and then now this,” said Goodman.
“If folks aren’t cautious over Labor Day and have big blow out gatherings, have a lot of events where they aren’t practicing social distancing and hygiene, then yes, that could accelerate our issue and make us reevaluate everything,” said Horton.
Goodman is remaining optimistic and getting creative with family meal options once a week.
Horton said city leaders will case data in the week following Labor Day to determine whether public schools will return to their hybrid learning. Radford City Schools Superintendent Robert Graham anticipates a September 14 return.
WSLS 10 News reached out to New River Valley Health District leaders but had not heard back at the time this article was published.