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Magill tests negative for COVID-19, local government offices update closures

Charlottesville City Councilor Sena Magill found out Friday that she has tested negative for COVID-19 after 10 days of waiting for results.

Magill announced the results with a simple, one-sentence statement on her campaign Twitter page.

“Just got the news: COVID-19 test came back negative,” she wrote on the SenaforCville page.

Magill, 47, was in Washington, D.C., from March 7 to March 9 to attend the National League of Cities conference.

At least two people have tested positive for the virus after attending the conference and many went into self-quarantine, including people from Fort Collins, Colorado; San Antonio, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

City Councilor Lloyd Snook also attended the meeting but did not self-quarantine and has said he has had no symptoms.

The increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the state is creating an increase in the number of government and agency offices shutting down to the public.

The City of Charlottesville said Friday that it was closing parking areas at the following parks effective immediately: Pen Park, McIntire Park, Tonsler Park and Washington Park.

“If the city observes too many visitors at a particular park which precludes safe social distancing, we will follow a process to close the park entirely,” a news release stated.

The city also said that it would continue the closure of City Hall and offices at the City Hall Annex, parks and recreation and public works departments through April 12.

Non-essential personnel have been told to work from home if possible, depending on the type of work they conduct for the city. Those employees were largely city leadership and positions designated by department directors.

Non-essential personnel who can not work from home will be compensated at their normal salary rate thru the closure.

“I’m trying to do everything possible I can to ensure that our employees stay on the payroll,” City Manager Tarron Richardson said in a virtual town hall on Thursday.

Richardson said he’s asked department heads to find ways to cut expenses so employees can continue to receive a paycheck.

“As we move forward, if conditions do improve we can make adjustments,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone keeps working, our workforce continues to work.”

Albemarle County officials closed office buildings to the general public beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and will keep them closed indefinitely.

County officials asked residents to visit the county website, www.albemarle.org, to see if the site has an answer to, or a way to address any needs and issues.

“We’re still here for you. Visit our website to see if your needs can be met online,” the statement reads. “You can also call the department or staff person you need directly.”

The county’s information line, (434) 243-7929, will remain operable weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the statement.

Although most county offices will be closed, there are limited hours open for a few. Community Development will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; The Albemarle County Police Department will be available through an intercom with visitors restricted to the department’s lobby, except with an escort; and voter registration will receive in-person absentee voters for the Scottsville Town Council election.

Online fees for payments by e-check will be waived, beginning in April, officials said.

The Charlottesville Office of Elections and Voter Registration announced on Friday that it, too, would close to the public beginning Monday.

Office staff will answer phones and email, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as it prepares for June 9 primaries for U.S Senate and House of Representatives.

Voters may register to vote or submit an absentee ballot online at the Department of Elections website, vote.elections.virginia.gov.

Voting officials recommend voters request a mailed absentee ballot using reason code 2A on the application.

The Voter Registration Office said it will provide more information about this election as deadlines approach and it receives further guidance from the Department of Elections.

The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that area visitor centers will remain closed until further notice, also due to COVID-19. The centers have been closed since March 13.

The closures affect the centers on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall and the Albemarle Tourism & Adventure Center in Crozet. These measures are consistent with other visitor and welcome centers in Virginia.

Bureau staff will respond to visitor inquiries placed via email or phone.

Also on Friday, the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System announced that spring semester students would receive pass/no-pass grades with an option for a letter grade to reflect college classes that were cut short by COVID-19.

“My hope in taking this step is that students will not be disadvantaged on their transcripts by a global pandemic that is beyond their control,” Chancellor Glenn DuBois said in a blog post. “Some will face additional challenges in having their courses moved from the classroom to the keyboard. Others will encounter the COVID-19 virus itself, afflicting them, a family member they care for, or even their instructor.”

DuBois said withdrawal dates for classes have been extended to the end of the semester, as well.

Area Kroger store employees got the corporate OK on Thursday to wear protective masks and gloves while working and the company has stepped up employee safety with Plexiglas sneeze guards at cashier stations.

The stores have also waived fees for advance ordering and curbside pickup during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our associates,” company officials said in a statement. “Kroger is installing Plexiglas shields at many cash registers to further promote physical distancing. Many of our stores are beginning the installation process this week, and we anticipate every check lane having a partition, including pharmacy counters, within the next several weeks.”

Over the last two weeks, The Kroger Company has hired 18,000 associates for full-time and part-time positions across the country.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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