Governor Issues State of Emergency for COVID-19

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By Carol Vaughn
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Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Thursday, after the Virginia Health Department announced there are 17 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the state.
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As of Thursday, there were no known cases of the virus on the Shore, but some events were being canceled.
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“Our top priority is to make sure Virginians stay safe and healthy, and that our response to this situation leaves no one behind,” a press release from the governor’s office said.
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“This emergency declaration will ensure we can continue to prepare for and appropriately respond to Virginians’ needs during this time,” Northam said.
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The declaration directs “state and local governments to render appropriate assistance to prepare for this event, to alleviate any conditions resulting from the situation, and to implement recovery and mitigation operations and activities so as to return impacted areas to pre-event conditions as much as possible.”
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Northam announced additional steps to ensure Virginians’ health and safety.
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Official travel outside of Virginia by more than 100,000 state employees has been halted, with some flexibility for essential personnel and interstate commuters.
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Specific guidance will be sent to agency heads and state employees.
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The guidelines will be revisited after 30 days.
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Additionally, Northam directed a phased transition to teleworking for state employees.
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State employees, including part-time employees, can access paid public emergency leave in the event of exposure to COVID-19 or high-risk travel.
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Northam urged localities and nonprofits to limit large public events, effective immediately.
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The emergency order activates the commonwealth’s emergency operations plan, places the National Guard in a state of active duty, activates a section of the Code of Virginia related to price gouging, and authorizes government funds for response and recovery operations.
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The full release accompanying the emergency order can be found here: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2020/march/headline-853537-en.html