Gov. Ralph Northam announced today a state mandate requiring all citizens to wear a mask in indoor public spaces which will go into effect starting Friday, May 29. The rule applies to “all places where people congregate.” Exceptions include when eating or drinking, while exercising, children under 10, or those with legitimate health conditions that prevent one from wearing a mask (i.e. trouble breathing).
The mandate follows the two highest days of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. On Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health reported a single-day increase of 1,615 cases, following Monday’s single-day increase of 1,483 cases. As of today, the Commonwealth has reported 39,342 cases, 4,325 hospitalizations, and 1,236 deaths.
COVID-19 appears to be most prevalent in those between the ages of 20 and 70, however, most deaths are occurring in the 60-80+ age bracket. The largest outbreaks have been in long-term care facilities, with 4,532 cases and 708 deaths have occurred
On May 15, the majority of the Commonwealth entered Phase I of reopening the economy. Conditions of this phase include allowing non-essential retail and places of worship to open at 50% capacity, and personal grooming to operate in an appointment-only form. In addition, restaurants must remain carry-out only, however, Phase 1 permits restaurants with outside seating to open at 50% capacity. Counties in Northern Virginia, the Richmond area, and Accomack County remain at Phase 0 and the Governor said today that Northern Virginia can enter Phase I beginning Friday as well. Details regarding opening Northern Virginia will be released Wednesday.
The Virginia Department of Health continues to recommend staying at home when possible–especially if you are at higher risk for serious illness–and when going out to maintain strict social distancing rules.