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Statewide updates: 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Va.; Sentara to reopen two drive-through test sites

The Virginia Department of Health reported on their website Thursday that 94 people in Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19.

That’s an increase of 17 over the 77 reported at noon on Wednesday.

A total of 1,923 people have been tested for the virus, VDH said, adding that 19 people are hospitalized.

There have been two deaths attributed to the virus in Virginia.

Sentara to reopen testing sites

Sentara will reopen two of its drive-through COVID-19 screening and testing sites starting Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The hospital system originally opened three screening sites in Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake on Monday and screened a total of 1,760 people and tested 786 before closing on Wednesday due to a shortage of testing supplies.

The hospital system has received additional testing kits and will re-open the testing sites at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. The Chesapeake site will not reopen.

Sentara asks that only people who have met all of these criteria come out for testing:

– If you have two of the three symptoms: fever of 100.4 or higher, cough and shortness of breath.

– And if you have been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person or have traveled to a place with an outbreak.

– And if you are over the age of 60 or have health issues.

Anyone who does not meet the criteria but feels ill should stay home for 14 days, the press release said, unless in need of urgent medical attention.

The drive-through sites will open on a day-to-day basis as testing supplies allow.

Fairfax calls for ‘bolder and swifter actions’

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is asking for “bolder and swifter actions” to address the COVID-19 epidemic, in a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam Thursday.

Fairfax joined at least three other lawmakers in calling for a special session to tackle legislation related to COVID-19. Among his proposals, Fairfax is asking for the state to delay all tax payments for 120 days, and to increase unemployment benefits.

Fairfax is also asking Northam to use his authority to mandate the closure of all bars, restaurants, gyms and theaters at least through April 15, with exceptions for carry-out and delivery.

“I have personally heard from many Virginians, including small business owners, employees, healthcare workers, families and community leaders across the Commonwealth pleading that we implement much bolder and swifter measures to … combat this unprecedented health and, consequently, economic threat,” Fairfax’s letter reads.

Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in a statement: "The Governor found out about this letter through the press. This is a fluid and quickly changing situation, and he is in constant communication with public health experts. He will continue to make decisions in the best interest of Virginians."

In December, Fairfax announced he would run for governor in 2021, joining a handful of Democrats who have hinted at a run. Virginia’s governors can only serve one term consecutively, meaning Northam is ineligible for reelection.

Fairfax, who was twice accused of sexual assault in February of 2019, has rejected calls for his resignation, arguing that the accusations are false and meant to damage his political career.

In his Thursday letter, he also asked Northam to also mandate all schools closed through the end of the academic year, while making sure “no student is penalized.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene for one day on April 22, when they can accept or override Northam’s vetoes on legislation passed during the 2020 regular session.

Fairfax is asking for a special session in the weeks before the April reconvening.

– Mel Leonor

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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