COVID-19 Emergency

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The COVID-19 Emergency is an ongoing crisis to contain with the coronavirus that has impacted all aspects of life in the greater Charlottesville region. For more than two weeks, people have been required to limit contacts with others to stop the infection from expanding to the point where hospitals are overwhelmed. Virginia is under a state of emergency and the situation changes day to day. There is concern that not enough people are complying, increasing the community spread. Charlottesville City Council and public safety officials are calling Governor Ralph Northam to issue a stay at home order. [1]

Governor Ralph Northam has urged Virginians to gather in groups no larger than 10 to help avoid "community spread." [2] [3] Stricter restrictions went into place on March 23.

Local schools are closed through the end of the school year. [4] Many businesses have closed and people are required to limit contact with other people through a phenomenon called "social-distancing." Charlottesville has suspended tax collections for the time being. [5]

There are at 44 known cases of COVID-19 in the Charlottesville area as of March 29, 2020. [6]

Several groups have formed to help coordinate assistance for people in need. These are direct links:

Data is released by the Virginia Department of Health once a day, making the impact of the health crisis not fully known. People are encouraged to limit contact with other people for the foreseeable future. Essential businesses remain open and are supposed to comply with VDH guidelines but it is unclear how this is enforced.

The Virginia Department of Health has set up a hotline for the Thomas Jefferson Health District at 434-972-6261.

Charlottesville has a community resource line at 434-234-4490.


Ambox notice.png This article documents a current event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.

Latest

  • City Council has called upon Governor Ralph Northam to issue a stay at home order
  • There are 460 confirmed cases in Virginia and 13 confirmed deaths as of March 26, 2020, up from 41 cases on Sunday, March 15. [7] The number is expected to continue to rise. [8] [9]
  • Albemarle and Charlottesville have delivered nearly 8,000 meals in since March 17 [10]
  • The UVA Hospital has suspended in-patient visitation [11]

Local Resources

Health resources

(CDC Video on Coronavirus


Local cases

The first case is a woman in her late 50's who is believed to have contracted the virus locally,[12] contrary to initial reports of the case being travel-related. [13] [14]

Cases in the Thomas Jefferson Health District increased slowly. The state health numbers are lagging behind reports from local districts [11] [15] Two are from Charlottesville and one is from Albemarle County [16]

Local PPE

SupportCville has a held campaign to locate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for area doctor's offices and longterm care facilities.

The Hospice of the Piedmont issued a call for donations on March 25. [17]


Local government responses

Albemarle County and Charlottesville declared local emergencies on March 12, 2020 in order to help coordinate public safety efforts to contain the spread of the disease. This gives officials more flexibility to conduct business. It has resulted in the temporary halt of public meetings as well as the delay of the adoption of the FY21 budget in Albemarle County. [18] [19] On March 19, Charlottesville announced it would suspend collection of taxes for the time being.

Albemarle supervisors received a briefing at their meeting on March 17, 2020. [20]

The University of Virginia will remain closed all spring and will not hold Final Exercises (graduation) this year [21] [22]

  • Governor Ralph Northam urged Virginians on March 17 to restrict gatherings to ten people or less in order to halt community spread [2] Virginians over the age of 65 are urged to self-quarantine.
  • Virginia DMV offices were ordered closed by Governor Ralph Northam on March 17
  • the first is one known case of COVID-19 in Charlottesville as of March 16, 2020. The patient is a woman in her late 50's who is believed to have contracted the virus while traveling. Her test was processed by a commercial lab. She is an employee of the Women's Center at the University of Virginia and the facility is being sterilized.
  • Charlottesville has suspended tax collections for the time being [5]
  • Charlottesville Vice Mayor Sena Magill is in self-quarantine and is awaiting the results of a test [23]


Albemarle County

Albemarle County declared an emergency on March 12 and is implementing a multi-phased plan to respond to the incident. The Incident Management team is coordinating a response. [24] The Board of Superiors will delay the budget process until after the crisis is over. [25]

Public safety crews have altered operations on rescue missions. [26]

Supervisors adopted a draft continuity of governance ordinance on March 27. [27] At a briefing on March 18, Supervisors extended the date to adopt a final budget to May 14. [28]

The Town of Scottsville is following Albemarle's plan. [29] They have declared their own local emergency.

[25] The Albemarle Board of Supervisors held a work session on March 17 and a regular meeting on March 18 but public attendance was restricted to watch from home [25]

Albemarle County is opening up parking lots for public wi-fi.

Charlottesville

Charlottesville has closed all indoor recreation facilities and park rentals, and has also canceled all public meetings until further notice except the March 16 City Council. The City Council meeting scheduled for March 16 will continue and the city will pilot a new way of allowing public input. [30] The city added further restrictions on March 16 and will only be open for essential personnel beginning on March 17.

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority has announced a moratorium on all evictions effective in [31]

The customer service window for the Charlottesville Police Department is closed until further notice. [32] The Police Department has also modified its responses to non-emergency calls. [33]

Charlottesville City Schools began distributing food to low-income students on March 17. [34] Weekday distribution of meals will take place between 10 am and noon at ten locations throughout the city. [35]

Surrounding counties


Impact on school children

The announcement of the closure of schools on March 13 immediately prompted many to begin to think about what to do for children for whom school lunches may be the only regular mealtimes. That is potentially thousands of young people in Albemarle and Charlottesville. The city school system is planning on a meals program. The PB&J Fund sought volunteers and donations to distribute food on March 16. [36] [37]

Charlottesville City Schools are looking for volunteers to sign up to help distribute food beginning March 17. [38] Albemarle will offer the same service at several locations throughout the county beginning on March 17.

Virginia is seeking a federal waiver to cancel this years Standards of Learning tests. [39]

Albemarle expanded its meal distribution program on March 25. [40]

The federal Centers for Disease Control have a website on recommended school policies

Resources for parents

Effects on local business

The City of Charlottesville's Economic Development Department have set up a resource page for affected businesses.

The Charlottesville Business Innovation Council published a list of financial resources on March 29, 2020

Authorities have called for social distancing which immediately began to have an effect on people moving around the community but also prompted a debate over whether enough people are heeding the call. That began to change on Sunday, March 15 as restaurants such as Rapture and Zocalo closed in advance of potential government-mandated shutdowns. [25] Others remain open for delivery.

  • Many businesses remained open on March 13 and March 14, but are encouraging customers to maintain a distance between themselves. While many office workers have been told to work from home, retail employees do not have that luxury. [42]
  • The cancellation of the Virginia Festival of the Book has had a ripple effect on businesses such as New Dominion Bookshop, which purchased additional stock for customers who will not be visiting Charlottesville this spring. [42]
  • State Farm is evaluating the possibility of its staffers working from home. CFA Institute is doing the same thing. WillowTree is among the companies that have told their employees to work from home.
  • Ragged Mountain Running Shop decided to close effective on March 13 but the owners said they would continue online sales and delivery [43]
  • Many retail stores on the Downtown Mall began posting signs on March 15 saying they would close until further notice. [44] These include Blue Whale Books, O'Suzannah, Rock Paper Scissors and J. Fenton TOO.
  • The Jefferson Madison Regional Library closed at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020 for further notice and operated on a limited schedule on Sunday, March 15, 2020. [45] University of Virginia libraries were open until March 18 [46]


Restaurants

  • Charlottesville 29 urges people to order gift cards from restaurants to support them in the short-term [47]
  • Another website called Support Cville has been created to be an active directory of how to help restaurant workers. Support Cville website
  • A Go Fund Me account was launched to help local restaurant workers who will be affected by the shutdown of regular business [https://www.gofundme.com/f/charlottesville-restaurant-community/donate (Link to Go Fund Me Page) [48] This effort has also launched a Facebook page.
  • The owner of Rapture wrote in a Facebook post on the afternoon of March 15 that the restaurant would close indefinitely. "I am doing this because it is irresponsible to continue to offer a venue for people to interact socially and to therefore provide an environment for COVID-19 to spread. Its spread, the consequence for human life, and the economy, is inevitable. But each person needs to step up now, and begin to engage in the only behavior that will turn the tide on this: self-isolating."
  • Some restaurants remained open on March 16, but some began to close throughout the day. Blue Moon Diner opted to close that afternoon. [49]
  • Brazo's Tacos had gone to curbside service but made the decision on March 20 to close indefinitely [50]

Churches

Many places of worship did not hold services on March 15 to help prevent the spread of the norel coronavirus. Those that meet in public schools already knew they could not hold services because of rules that prohibited meetings of up to 100 people. That included the Charlottesville Community Church. [51] Others such as First Presbyterian Church have suspended all activities through March 27. [52] Other institutions such as the Church of the Incarnation held services but with precautions.

State response

Testing

There have been questions about the ability of the state to test enough people. The official number is reported by the Virginia Department of Health each day at 9 a.m.

Additional testing capacity comes from private companies. Results have been taking long to get back.

The University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University have both developed tests. [53] [54]

In the last week of March, Virginia lagged behind many other nearby the states in the number of residents who had been tested. [55]

PPE

Medical capacity

The Army Corps of Engineers is investigating sites for potential military hospitals. [56]

Relief for Virginians

Attorney General Mark Herring asked the State Corporation Commission in an emergency petition to require utility companies to halt disconnects for non-payment. [57] Dominion announced the same day they would suspend disconnections. [58]

The Virginia Employment Commission has prepared information for people who have been laid off or will be laid off in the coming weeks. A person has to actually be laid off or had hours reduced before they are eligible to apply for benefits. The maximum weekly benefit amount in Virginia is $378. [59]

  • The State Corporation Commission has "directed regulated electric, natural gas and water companies in Virginia to suspend service disconnections until the coronavirus outbreak subsides." [60]
  • Virginia's public safety agencies announce a suspension of all visitation in state jails, cessation of prisoner transfers [61]


Price gouging

The Attorney's General Office is seeking information on anyone taking advantage of the crisis to raise prices. The declaration of a state emergency triggered provisions "designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessary goods and services during an emergency." A hotline has been set up at 800-552-9963 or information can be submitted via online form. [62]

Timeline

Media Resources


Medical capacity

One of the reasons why the social distancing protocol has been put into place is to limit the impact on the medical system which could be overwhelmed if hospitalizations are required.

The University of Virginia Health System has 612 beds. [83]

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital has 176 beds. [84]

One local ER nurse questioned in whether the hospital network is ready. [85]

Global resources

References

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External Links