Mayor Stoney outlines plan for widespread testing, support for small businesses

Posted at 11:53 AM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 18:19:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Levar Stoney outlined his plan for widespread testing, access to protective equipment, and support for small businesses before Phase One of reopening begins.

"It's going to be a busy two weeks," said Mayor Stoney. "But we requested this delay because the data didn't suggest that reopening Richmond would be safe."

Stoney said the decision to delay the city’s reopening, came from data provided by the state last Thursday which included the percentage of positivity numbers.

"In early May, we had a seven day average of about 16.5 percent. Today, we are at 23.5 percent," Stoney said. "Now, moving forward, it’s important to make sure that our reopening is safe and equitable."

Stoney said, in order to do that, his first priority is widespread testing.

Dr. Danny Avula said in the last three and a half weeks, six different testing events were held across the city -- with more than 600 people tested.

"That will only increase moving forward," Dr. Avula said.

Mayor Stoney said in the next two weeks, the plan is to hold three testing events per week -- which will include looping back to some of the previous tested sites around the city.

"The new percent positivity data will be used to inform the reopening timeline and evaluate the outcomes from this thorough effort," Stoney said.

The Mayor also stressed the importance of wearing a face mask when going out in public, and said 500 masks and hand sanitizer will be given to each City Council member to be distributed throughout their districts.

"The science is very clear," Stoney said. "Wearing a mask drives down rates of community transmission. So we’re invested in making sure face coverings are accessible and expected among those in our community."

Mayor Stoney also said there’s a plan in place to help struggling small businesses throughout the reopening process.

Along with advocating for them at the federal level, Stoney said he has created a team to assist businesses in developing potential patio expansions once the city enters phase one of reopening.

That way, social distancing can still be possible in public spaces.

"When we reopen, and we will reopen, it will be done safely -- with all Richmonders in mind," Stoney said.

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

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.