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Virginia business owners on edge amid uptick in COVID cases, delta variant threat

'Protect yourself and protect your staff... We want to be on the other side of this,' business owner says
Maple Bourbon in Downtown Richmond
Posted at 7:46 PM, Jul 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-25 19:50:27-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As COVID-19 cases tick up across Virginia, area business owners are voicing their concerns and considering reimplementing stricter safety measures.

It was all hands on deck Sunday for the kitchen staff at Maple Bourbon in Downtown Richmond. Cooks were hard at work serving southern dishes like chicken and waffles to a busy brunch crowd.

"Things have been going really, really well," owner Jaynell Pittman-Shaw said. "Starting in March, you could start to feel the uptick. People were starting to want to get out of the house more, so we started to see a volume increase."

Jaynell Pittman-Shaw
Jaynell Pittman-Shaw

Currently, business is booming at Maple Bourbon -- a much needed trend after more than a year of a coronavirus-induced economic downturn. When Virginia lifted COVID-19 restrictions in May, the restaurant returned to full capacity.

However, Pittman-Shaw said the delta variant and increasing COVID cases could force her to bring back old policies.

"I'm very concerned. I will probably push for a half-capacity level again," Pittman-Shaw said. "If we get back to the point where we're requiring everyone to wear masks, I'm OK with that, but I'd rather keep everyone safe than be sorry about it."

RELATED: Fauci says US headed in 'wrong direction' on coronavirus

Chris Lawyer
Chris Lawyer

Her worries are echoed by other business owners including Chris Lawyer, who runs The Weight Room in Scott's Addition.

"Seeing the cases go up in Virginia is a little alarming," Lawyer said. "We have one athlete out right now possibly with the delta variant."

He said while there hasn't been any spread within the gym, delta has been keeping him on his toes. That's one reason why he hasn't fully rolled back all COVID-19 protocols.

"We're still restricting occupancy," he said. "We're at 25% of what our actual room occupancy is. People are still cleaning, but we're not being as strict about it."

Lawyer encourages unvaccinated members to mask up but won't go as far as asking for proof.

"I'm not going to step over that line of how they're living outside of the gym," Lawyer explained. "I like to respect peoples' boundaries."

The Weight Room in Scott's Addition
The Weight Room in Scott's Addition

Though they're in different industries, Lawyer and Pittman-Shaw agree that small business owners navigating another potential coronavirus surge will need all the support they can get.

Lawyer's advice: "Just pay attention, be humble, and listen to the experts."

Pittman-Shaw's advice: "Protect yourself and protect your staff the best way you can. We want to be on the other side of this."

RELATED: Updated map lets you check vaccination rates where you live

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Number of COVID-19 Cases in Virginia as of July 23

COMPLETE IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: Tracking COVID-19 Pandemic

The most recent data from the Virginia Department of Health (July 16) shows a 7-day moving average of 422 new daily COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. One month prior on June 16, that number was 135.

The most recent VDH data (July 19) also shows the 7-day moving average of the percentage of COVID-19 tests that result in positive is 3.8%. On month prior on 6/19, that number was 1.4%

The World Health Organization has previously said the positivity percentage should remain below 5% in order for the economy to safely reopen.

COVID STATS WEEK ENDING JULY 25

COVID Cases: +3,801
People Hospitalized: +131
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: +23
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 4.9%

COVID STATS WEEK ENDING JULY 18

COVID Cases: +1,826
People Hospitalized: +145
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: +27
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 3.6%

COVID STATS WEEK ENDING JULY 11

COVID Cases: +1,601
People Hospitalized: +158
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: +23
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 3.3%

COVID STATS WEEK ENDING JULY 4

COVID Cases: +1,243
People Hospitalized: +268
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: +30
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 2.8%

COVID STATS WEEK ENDING JUNE 27

COVID Cases: +1,180
People Hospitalized: +48
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: +46
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 2.6%

COVID STATS WEEK ENDING JUNE 20

COVID Cases: +905
People Hospitalized: +148
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: +44
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 2.5%

COVID STATS WEEK ENDING JUNE 13

COVID Cases: +1,103
People Hospitalized: +211
COVID-19-Linked Deaths: +71
All Health Districts Current 7-Day Positivity Rate Total: 2.9%

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Mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Richmond Raceway.

Virginians age 12+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required, so go to Vaccine Finder to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?

People are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
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What you can and should not do once you have been fully vaccinated.

How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.

These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.

Click here for more information from the Virginia Department of Health.