Gov. declares state of emergency in Virginia; precaution, prevention urged locally

By Isaac Thompson

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency for Virginia today, putting in motion bans on state travel and other precautions to slow the spread of the Covid-19. The commonwealth is also canceling all specially-scheduled state conferences and large events for 30 days.

Local schools, universities, churches and healthcare providers continue to urge precautions as their response to the coronavirus pandemic that is frightening the rest of the world.

“Prevention, prevention, prevention,” said Parry McCluer High School nurse Sara Knick.
So far, there are at least 17 presumptive positive cases in Virginia.

Nationally, there are more than 1,300 cases, and there have been at least three dozen deaths.

Colleges in Virginia, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, University of Lynchburg and Roanoke College have closed down in-person classes and moved instruction online.

Universities in Lexington are trying to avoid such measures, and local K-12 schools remain open.

Col. Bill Wyatt, director of communications and marketing at Virginia Military Institute, said the cadets are being warned to follow healthy habits, such as washing their hands thoroughly.

He also said VMI’s Spring Furlough, the school’s version of spring break, began March 12, and officials are paying attention to where cadets travel.

Washington and Lee University is also promoting healthy habits to prevent the spread of the virus. Weekly email updates are now being sent out to students and faculty.

Dr. Jane Horton, director of Student Health and Counseling, recommends that students regularly check the W&L web page and the Virginia Department of Health site to obtain updates on COVID-19, as the virus is known as.

Rev. Joe Cailles, pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, said the church offers individual communion for those who prefer it, and it also has placed hand sanitizer throughout the church.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church has asked anyone who is feeling sick to avoid dipping their hands in the holy water used for making the sign of the cross, said Justin Soutar, the director of music at the church. The congregation has also been asked to avoid shaking hands or drinking from the chalice during communion.

Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital has urged patients with flu-like symptoms to call ahead before visiting. People also should request a mask before entering the hospital’s waiting room.