Virginia entered its twice-delayed implementation of Phase 3 of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic recovery Wednesday but Gov. Ralph Northam delayed one part of it — ordering bar areas inside restaurants and taverns to remain closed.
Whiles Floyd’s annual fireworks show is canceled for this July 4th, The Friday Night Jamboree returns in a “backyard Jamboree” behind the store on Friday with a July 4th outdoor concert Saturday.
Northam’s order, issued last Tuesday afternoon, follows Delaware’s decision to shut down newly-reopened bars and a report from federal officials saying bars are primary sources of coronavirus outbreaks in other states around the country.
“I am watching what is happening in other states — we are taking a cautious approach as we enter Phase Three, and maintaining the current restrictions on bar areas,” Northam (D) said in a news release issued Tuesday evening.
“In Virginia, our hospitalization rates have fallen, our percentage of positive tests continues to trend downward, and we are conducting more than 10,000 tests each day,” he said. “We want these trends to continue, but if our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities.”
Northam said an outbreak of the virus in Loudoun County traced back to a group of residents who partied at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina helped bring on his rollback of plans to allow bars to open.
Phase 3 allows groups up to 250 people can gather, swimming pool and gyms can operate at 75 percent capacity and businesses can run at full capacity but must had physical distance in place.
Neighboring states like Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia have left their more stringent restrictions in place. North Carolina is one of the states with spikes in cases and deaths.
While Virginia’s rates of infections, hospitalizations appeared to “plateau,” the latest seven day average shows infections and deaths starting to rise and health officials in the Commonwealth reported 598 new cases and 23 deaths.
The Loudoun County outbreak involve more than 100 teenagers and young adults who tested positive after partying in Myrtle Beach, now considered a “hot spot” for new infections and deaths.
David Goodfriend, director of Loudoun County’s health department, told The Washington Post that the outbreak was “a warning to all of us.”
“As we’re moving forward to reopening our communities, there are more opportunities for folks to get together, whether it’s in bars or restaurants, Fourth of July celebrations or parties in people’s homes,” he told the paper.
Goodfriend said it’s too soon to know whether those who caught the virus in Myrtle Beach have infected any of their relatives or friends, and whether there are more people who contracted the virus at the beach and have not yet been tested. So far, 174 county residents between the ages of 16 and 20 have tested positive since June 15, with about 100 of them saying they were recently in Myrtle Beach, he said.
In Alexandria, Mayor Justin Wilson (D) said he is “definitely hearing angst” from residents who have been monitoring news of spikes in Arizona, Florida and other states — leading Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, to warn Tuesday that the country may soon see 100,000 new cases per day.— The Washington Post
Fauci also warned against allowing bars to reopen. “Bars: really not good, really not good,” he told a Senate committee. “Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that. We really gotta stop that right now.”
“Phase 3 is not a return to normal,” says Jeff McKay, chair of supervisors in Fairfax County, which has the highest number of cases and deaths in Virginia.
“We must wear masks, socially distance, and wash our hands. That said, if we notice any changes to our numbers, we will certainly weigh in with that data.”–Jess McKay, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
The Floyd Country Store, home of the Friday Night Jamboree, plans a “return of outdoor music” on the lawn behind the store with “The Friday Night Backyard Jamboree” starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by a July 4th concert on the lawn with Sammy Shelor, Jesse Smathers, Junior Sisk and Barry Collins, starting at 6 p.m.
“We ask that everyone practice safe social distancing during the show,” the Store says on its website. Both events are dependent on weather.
More music is scheduled on July 4 at the Village Green on South Main Street, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Floyd County’s infection count has increased by three in the past week with 17 diagnosed with the virus, two hospitalized and one death by Tuesday’s report from the Virginia Health Department.