By Maia Stanley
The state issued an order Tuesday that allows law enforcement to enforce a ban that prohibits more than 10 patrons in places such as restaurants, fitness centers and theaters.
Gov. Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver issued a public health emergency order to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19.
“I hope that everyone will have the common sense to stay home tonight and in the days ahead,” Northam said. “This order will ensure that state and local officials have the tools they need to keep people safe.”
All Virginians should increase social distancing, avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, the state said. This follows federal guidelines announced Monday.
Oliver announced at Tuesday’s press conference that two people have died from the disease and 67 people are confirmed to have it, including one patient who is currently in a long-term care facility — which he said was “very concerning.” Oliver said about 48 tests are currently pending. The first confirmed case was announced on March 7.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high but the individual risk is dependent upon exposure. People over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions were urged to self-quarantine due to elevated vulnerability to the disease.
Oliver said that there are currently 300 to 400 COVID-19 testing kits in the commonwealth, with more on order.
“I don’t want you to think that you are just getting a cold,” Oliver said. “This is a serious, serious pandemic and social distancing is, therefore, something we should do and take seriously, for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community.”
Oliver also said that there are federal plans to launch automated test sites and drive-through testing centers nationwide in the areas that have been hit the hardest by the disease.
Sentara Healthcare has opened several drive-through testing centers in Hampton Roads for those who are at the highest risk for the disease.
Northam has also rolled out new measures to support workers across the state that are being affected by closures due to the coronavirus, including eliminating the wait for unemployment benefits and increased eligibility for unemployment status.
Workers may be able to qualify for unemployment if their employer slows or ceases operations due to the disease, if they have been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official but are not receiving sick pay or medical leave or if they are not receiving paid medical leave while staying home to take care of sick family members. The one-week unpaid waiting period was waived for benefits, and unemployment funds are available through the Virginia Employment Commission, Northam said.
The state ordered all 75 offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles to close, in addition to urging the Supreme Court of Virginia to close all courts until April 6 for non-emergency or non-essential court proceedings. Online services are still available, the governor said, and 60-day extensions have been granted for expired licenses and registrations.
The State Corporation Commission also issued an order to suspend utility service disconnections for the next 60 days in order to provide relief for those financially impacted by COVID-19.
“Together we will get through this and we will be a better Virginia,” Northam said. “Every single one of us has a personal responsibility in this situation, every one of us has a role in being part of the solution.”
The Virginia Department of Health currently has a 24-hour Coronavirus information hotline that can be reached at 877-ASK-VDH3 or 877-275-8343 for questions about the disease.
Suspects Sought in Credit Card Fraud
Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to identify the individuals in the attached photo, who are suspected of using a stolen credit to make fraudulent purchases last week.
On Monday, March 30, the victim was notified that their card had been used at the Farm Fresh located in the 2300 block of East Main Street. Surveillance footage shows two females buying food and cigarettes worth over $400 with the victim’s card. They were last seen leaving the store in a silver convertible with a black top. A photo of the vehicle is attached.
Detectives determined the card was also used at the McDonald’s located in the 1800 block of East Broad Street.
Anyone with information about the identity of these suspects is asked to call First Precinct Detective J. Mitchell at (804) 646-0569 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.
Billy Jack’s Shack Closing for Good
Unfortunately, I’m sure this won’t be the last time we’ll be writing about a restaurant not being able to re-open.
Billy Jack’s Shack the local spin-off of the Westend’s Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint at 5810 Grove Ave. will not survive the economic downturn of COVID-19. According to this Richmond BizSense.com article on the closure, Jack Brown’s is doing alright for now considering the situation.
Owners Jason Owenby, Mike Sabin, and Aaron Ludwig made the announcement on Billy Jack’s Shack Facebook.
It is with heavy hearts that we make the unfortunate announcement that Billy Jack’s RVA will be closing down permanently. While our time here was brief, the relationships and memories we’ve made are eternal. We appreciate everything that y’all have done for us, especially those of you in the Bone Club. These are difficult times for everyone involved and if you would like to support some of our staff who are now facing employment uncertainty, please feel free to donate at the link below. We can not properly express how much this decision pains us and how bad we are going to miss everyone. Please message with any further questions and stay tuned to our Instagram page for some trips down memory lane
Suspect Sought in Fas Mart Robbery on East Main Street
At approximately 9:48 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, officers responded to the Fas Mart in the 2600 block of E. Main Street for the report of an armed commercial robbery.
Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to identify the individual in the attached photos who is a suspect in a commercial armed robbery that occurred earlier this week.
At approximately 9:48 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, officers responded to the Fas Mart in the 2600 block of E. Main Street for the report of an armed commercial robbery. The suspect reportedly entered the business with a gun and pointed it at the cashier. He hopped over the counter and told the cashier to open the register. He stole an undisclosed amount of money and fled the store.
Anyone with information about this armed robbery is asked to call First Precinct Detective T. Wilson at (804) 646-0672 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.