Northam: Don't make me close state parks because of 'irresponsible people'

Posted at 6:07 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 08:43:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. — With another weekend approaching, Gov. Ralph Northam urged Virginians not to gather in large groups in the state’s parks, wildlife preserves, and other public lands or he may decide to close them down.

“Do not gather in groups. We will be watching this weekend,” said Northam. “I do not want to have to close these lands to public visitation because of a few irresponsible people.”

Northam said he had spoken to the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Games and Inland Fisheries, which manage those lands, and they told him that people are still going to those spots.

“As an outdoorsman, myself, I know the importance of our public lands and waters to the mental and physical health of Virginians. But, I hear that some people are still gathering in groups and not abiding by our social distancing in direct violation of our stay-at-home order,” said Northam.

Northam issued his stay-at-home order on Monday, citing the large crowds he saw at beaches and parks throughout the state over the previous weekend.

“Virginia Natural Resources agencies are working hard to provide this outlet for people, but they cannot continue to do so. Without your help. Everyone needs to stay apart for your own safety and that of others,” added Northam.

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COVID-19 Precautions

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.