Out of an abundance of caution and following Governor Northam’s recent guidance, the City of Norfolk sent out a statement that it decided to pull the permit for the 53rdAnnual St. Patrick’s Day Parade for Saturday, March 14.
In the email city officials said, “This was not an easy decision but ultimately we have to take into consideration the uncertainty around COVID-19 and its impact on our residents”.
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Thursday in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the number of confirmed cases among Virginians grew to 17.
Northam advised all Virginians to avoid large gatherings “for the time being.” He said he was canceling all state conferences and large events for the next 30 days and urged local governments and private organizers to follow suit. He also announced new restrictions on travel for state workers.
“The situation is fluid, and it is changing rapidly,” Northam said at a press conference with other state officials and top lawmakers.
Virginia has 17 “presumptive positive” cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health, up from nine the previous day.
Dr. Lilian Peake, the state epidemiologist, said that figure included two Virginians who had been diagnosed in Texas.
Peake said there is so far no sign of “community spread” of the virus in Virginia, meaning cases where it’s unclear how the patient acquired it. Peake said the existing cases had either been linked to international travel or contact with another infected person.
The coronavirus has infected around 128,000 people worldwide and killed over 4,700. For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people who contract it recover within weeks.
The virus has panicked global financial markets, and led to a cascade of cancellations and shutdowns around the globe and in Virginia, where a growing number of universities have suspended on-campus instruction, at least temporarily.
Those include the University of Virginia, William & Mary, James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Longwood University, where a student tested positive for COVID-19.
Some public school districts in Virginia have announced temporary closures so that teachers can prepare for the possibility of implementing distance learning. Chesterfield County schools said they would be closed to students Friday, and Fairfax County schools were to be closed Monday.
Some large private employers, including Capital One, encouraged employees to work from home.
The governor’s emergency declaration is an administrative tool that allows for additional flexibility in dealing with the virus.
“Virginians should know that we have longstanding plans in place to deal with pandemics. We have trained for them, and we are ready for this,” Northam said.