RICHMOND, Va. -- Mayor Levar Stoney and city health leaders updated the public on the status of the coronavirus in Richmond and surrounding areas.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 2,857 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Richmond. Thirty-two of those cases involved city employees.
Mayor Levar Stoney said 38 Richmonders have died due to the novel coronavirus.
“We must remain vigilant. It’s been four months,” Stoney said during a press conference at City Hall. “Its very important that we continue to adhere to the guidelines that have been laid out by the CDC and also by the Governor.”
Dr. Melissa Viray with the Richmond City Health District said an early analysis estimated that 2.4 percent of adults in Virginia are believed to have coronavirus antibodies. For the central region, which includes Richmond, that number is three percent.
#BREAKING Dr. Melissa Viray with @RichmondCity_HD says early analysis of adults believed to have COVID-19 antibodies in Central Virginia is 3%. Statewide that number is 2.4%. Says gatherings are leading to increased numbers @CBS6 pic.twitter.com/vgRyVBIb28— Brendan King CBS 6 (@ImBrendanKing) July 30, 2020
“We are a doing a good job of community mitigation and preventing transmission. This means that it’s critical we continue social distancing and other efforts to prevent spread to the large number of still vulnerable people in our community,” Viray explained.
Investigators are monitoring an increase of social gathering activities, such as funerals, weddings, religious services and restaurant traffic. Viray said that indicated people are getting out more often.
“We need to continue to make safe choices, continue social distancing, and wear face coverings,” she warned.
As of Tuesday evening, the Richmond-Henrico Health District had investigated more than 1,900 complaints regarding non-compliance of COVID-19 guidelines at establishments across both localities.
“These constraints for businesses and for retail establishments are new. We understand everyone is figuring out the right way we do that,” Viray said.
Investigators are more likely to educate rather than punish. No businesses have been cited or lost their licenses due to non-compliance issues.
“When we reach out we start out with education or consultative lens saying how can we help you to comply better with these regulations,” Viray said.
Mayor Stoney also announced that 48 small businesses that received loans from the Richmond Small Business Disaster Loan program would not have to pay the city back.
“I’m happy to announced the EDA, Economic Development Authority, has approved the use of CARES Act funding to convert those loans, $900,000 worth of loans, into grants,” Stoney said.
Leonard Sledge, the city’s Economic Development Director, said his office would be reaching out to notify those businesses of the news within the week.
Businesses will have the option to convert the loan to a grant citing tax implications, Sledge said. The loans were use to help keep employees on payroll.
The city continues to offer testing at numerous events.
Health Brigade clinic will offer free COVID-19 testing every Saturday in August on North Thompson Street.
A rain or shine testing event is scheduled for August 4 from 9 a.m. through 11 a.m. at Fairfield Middle School on Nine Mile Road in Henrico County.
Another testing site will be set up on August 7 at Hotchkiss Field Community Center from 9 a.m. through 11 a.m. on East Brookland Park Boulevard in Richmond.
To register for testing, call the Richmond & Henrico COVID-19 hotline at 804-205-3501, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday (except major holidays).
Limited walk-up testing will also be offered while test supplies last.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.