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Local Coronavirus Closings and Cancellations

Meherrin Regional Library - Brunswick County Library and Richardson Memorial Library (Tentative Reopening Date April 1, 2020)

All City of Emporia Offices are Closed to the Public (Municipal Building, Police Department and Public Works)

Greensville County Circuit Court Clerk (Tentative Reopening Date April 6, 2020)

Bruswick County Government is Closed to the Public

During this State of Emergency most Nursing Homes have Cancelled all Visitation

During this State of Emergency most Hospitala have changed their Visitation Policies, Please call ahead

Please check with your destination for current visitation policies during this Public Health Emergency/State of Emergency before leaving home

To include your closing or cancellation on this list, please email news@emporianews.com

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Coronavirus

Crater Health District Health Departments Reports its First COVID-19 Death and Confirmed Cases in Emporia and Greensville County

(Petersburg, Va.) – The Crater Health District today announced the death of a resident from complications associated with COVID-19.  To protect patient confidentiality, no further information about the patient will be provided.

“We are so sorry to hear of the loss of a Crater Health District resident.  Our sincere condolences go out to their family and friends,” said Crater Health District Director Alton Hart, Jr., MD, MPH. “It is especially important to remember elderly individuals and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, including death. These at-risk individuals are strongly advised to take steps to minimize contact with others who are ill, practice social distancing, and stay at home as much as possible.”

First Confirmed Case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Emporia

(Emporia, Virginia)- The Crater Health District (CHD) announced today a resident of the city of Emporia has tested positive for coronavirus 19 (COVID-19).   This marks the first positive COVID-19 case in the city of Emporia.  The individual is a male in his 30s and is self –isolating at home.

“As testing availability increases in our localities and across the Commonwealth, we expect to continue to have confirmed cases,” said Crater Health District Director Alton Hart, Jr., MD, MPH.  We continue to recommend effective measures to keep Crater Health District residents safe and well. It is important for everyone to continue practicing personal public health precautions, especially social distancing and hand and surface hygiene. These are the most effective ways to minimize the spread of illness and keep yourself and those around you healthy.”

“People at higher risk of infection with COVID-19 include: people who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19, for example healthcare workers, or household members. Others at higher risk for infection are those who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19,”said Epidemiologist Senior E. Katrina Saphrey, MPH

Crater Health District Confirms First Case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Greensville County

(Greensville County, Virginia)- The Crater Health District announced that a resident has tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Greensville County.  The female is in her 70’s and hospitalized. This is the seventh case in the district and the first case in Greensville County.

“With each confirmed case, we identify possible contacts, evaluate their risk of exposure and recommend appropriate public health and medical measures,” said Crater Health District Director, Alton Hart, Jr., MD, MPH  “The Virginia Department of Health’s Crater Health District and our healthcare partners continue to work together to identify cases of COVID-19 in our communities across the Commonwealth.”

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 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. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days after exposure to an infectious person.

We all can take steps to protect our health and the health of our loved ones.

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Practice social distancing by staying six feet or more away from others.
  • Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.

The Crater Health District has activated a coronavirus call center, which is staffed Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. to address questions from residents. Community members may call 804-862-8989.  The Virginia Department of Health has also activated a public information line, 877-ASK-VDH3, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Crater Health District serves the cities and counties of Dinwiddie, Emporia, Greensville, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

VCU Health CMH Update For our patients — your safety is our top concern

(March 20, 2020) “We are an acute care hospital and dealing with infectious diseases is something we are prepared to do every day,” said Scott Burnette, CEO of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital.

Because of the magnitude of this world-wide pandemic, we are taking extra precautions with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  Our staff is fully prepared to care for patients at all times and have expertise in dealing with illnesses of all kinds.

At VCU Health CMH patients are screened and those who meet the appropriate criteria for testing are then tested for the Coronavirus.  Once the swabs are collected they sent to either the Virginia Department of Health or Lab Corp, which are the only two labs approved in Virginia to run the tests.  Work is currently under way for hospital labs to get approved for analyzing the samples collected.

“I want everyone to know that we are taking all the necessary precautions to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus, but we also want people to understand that with proper precautions most people have a low risk of contracting COVID-19,” he added.

He continued, “We are asking people to practice social distancing – as in do not interact with others closely unless absolutely necessary. It is recommended that people keep at least six feet of distance from others to provide additional safeguards against the Corona (COVID) virus. Washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds is also vital in combating the virus.”

Burnette said many precautions have been implemented to make sure VCU Health CMH is doing everything possible to confront the challenges the Corona virus presents. Among those changes are a large number of temporary restrictions and closures, all done to prevent the spread of the virus, not because the virus is rampant in Southside Virginia and Northern North Carolina.

Among those changes are:

All non-urgent appointments that were scheduled with CMH providers will be rescheduled with consultation with our patients. CMH Family Care, Chase City Primary Care and Clarksville Primary Care will continue to be open as a resource of primary care physicians that can be contacted for guidance on appropriate care for people that are having symptoms related to COVID-19 or other serious illnesses.  The Emergency Department is open as usual for emergency cases.  In addition, elective surgeries that can be postponed will be, again in consultation with the patients.

Routine visitation is suspended until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our patients, visitors and team members.  For everyone’s safety, no visitors will be allowed who:

  1. Have any symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing
  2. Have returned from any of the COVID-19 high-risk countries or regions within the last 14 days
  3. Have been exposed to COVID-19
  4. Are children under 16 years of age

Other visitor restrictions: We recognize that there are times when having a visitor present is crucial. In these cases, visitors will be allowed based on the exceptions listed below provided they are not already excluded by the symptoms, age or exposure restrictions identified above. In general, visitors should limit visits to common waiting areas and maintain social distance to prevent sick individuals from coming in close contact with healthy individuals, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.

1.       Visitation is between the hours of 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. effective Saturday, March 21st.   

2.       Adult patients: Only one visitor per day.  All others will be asked to wait for updates outside of the medical facility. Patients at the end of life may have two visitors after discussion with the patient care team.

3.       Pediatric patients: 2 visitors per day.

4.       Obstetrical patients: 1 visitor per day.

5.       Patients undergoing surgery, procedures, or other testing: 1 visitor per day.

6.       ER patients are limited to one visitor.

7.       Visitation to patients with suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19 will be through telecommunication.

Additional precautions:

  1. We ask everyone to take extra steps to ensure good handwashing.  Ten handwashing stations have been placed outside the entrances to the following locations and we ask that everyone please wash their hands before entering buildings:  main hospital, Emergency Department, C.A.R.E. Building, Leggett Center, Cancer Center – Medical and Radiation Oncology, Chase City Primary Care, Clarksville Primary Care and VCU Health at Tanglewood.
  2. Visitors who are required to wear a mask to enter a patient room will be provided with only one mask per day, to be used in the patient room.

“We understand this is a difficult time for our patients and visitors, and we appreciate your help keeping our loved ones and our community safe. Working together, we are confident that these measures will help us succeed with managing the spread of COVID-19 while balancing the visitation needs of our patients,” Burnette continued.

The Hundley Center

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken action to aggressively respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  In order to comply with CMS mandates, nursing homes nationwide implemented restrictions and The Hundley Center at VCU Health CMH complied by suspending all visitation.  Residents have access to a private phone in their rooms.  To reach a resident, please dial (434) 584, followed by the number 4 and the three digits of the resident’s room number.  Our goal of protecting the health of each resident is of the utmost importance during this unprecedented situation.

Programs/Services Closure Updates:

CMH Family Dental Clinic, CMH Medical Fitness Center, Screenings & Support Groups

The CMH Family Dental Clinic closed March 18 and will tentatively reopen on March 30 for urgent and emergency visits only.

The CMH Medical Fitness Center will close Saturday, March 21 at 11 a.m. and a determination on when it reopens will be made at a later date.  Services affected by this closing include both aquatic and land-based fitness classes (The Matter of Balance Classes have been rescheduled beginning in August 2020). The cancer rehab services that operate within the center have been suspended.  Outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy services will remain open at this time, but with restrictions.  The cardiac rehab and pulmonary rehab programs that operate within the C.A.R.E. Building are still open, but also with restrictions.

All blood pressure clinic screenings, support groups, and scheduled public education events have been cancelled until further notice.

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  As of today (March 20, 2020) there is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County.  For an official case count in Virginia (and locations of cases), please visit the Virginia Department of Health at www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/.

For more information on our preparations, please visit:  vcuhealth.org/covid-19

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has a call line established for COVID-19 questions, the number is 877-ASK-VDH3.   (877-275-8343)

Immediate action needed to protect our communities

Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University are calling on all of eastern North Carolina to do their part to flatten the curve. We need to act quickly and definitively. When you watch what is happening in other communities and are scared about what you see, you should ask yourself a few questions: Will it hit my own community? Why can’t we stop this? What should we do? These are difficult questions, but the answers are clear.  

This pandemic has turned into a wave that is rolling across our country, hitting our state and threatening eastern North Carolina. The data are clear: it has started to impact our region and the problem continues to grow.

We can’t stop this wave from hitting us. However, we can lessen its impact here and now in eastern North Carolina. The question is whether we will take the necessary actions to reduce the spread of the virus. When you see the disasters affecting communities around the world, you are seeing the towns, cities, regions or countries that did not take action to slow or stop the wave. What you don’t see are the ones that are not suffering as much. The ones whose health care system is able to respond to the demand. The ones whose economies are already recovering. These are the stories of the communities who took the actions to slow the wave. What we do now will determine our story.

The fact is we have a short window of opportunity, as the virus is moving much faster than we normally make decisions. We know the story and outcome if we do nothing more – we see it on the news and on social media every day. We know from history that bold and definitive actions can change the course for the better.

Hospitals throughout North Carolina have and continue to take measures to respond to the COVID-19 wave. This includes all nine Vidant hospitals serving eastern North Carolina. It is time for communities to make similar definitive and decisive decisions to protect our region.  

Each of us has a responsibility to act immediately and to take action to help our communities respond to this crisis. Now, more than ever, we need every person, organization and government agency working together to protect our loved ones.

Practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, call before visiting a health care facility if you have a fever, respectfully encourage others through social media to do their part. These actions, combined with every day hygiene habits like proper handwashing, coughing and sneezing into the crook of your arm and cleaning surfaces, will help us flatten the curve and keep our loved ones healthy. 

We are calling on local officials throughout eastern North Carolina and the state to take more decisive action in response to this crisis to include making the bold and right decision to ask North Carolinians to shelter in place. This means staying close to home as much as possible and only going out if absolutely necessary, such as buying groceries or picking up medications. This is the right thing to do to save lives and is the right thing for our long-term economic interests. Community members must encourage the political bodies to be decisive, take action now and then support them. 

We would also like to thank all health care workers and every person on the front lines for their tireless efforts to care for those in need. This is a difficult time for doctors, nurses and care teams. We stand ready to care for those in our region, but we need local communities to do their part.

We are confident we can flatten the curve. However, we must all stand up together, as one community, to get through this crisis.

Michael Waldrum, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Vidant Health

Mark Stacy, MD, Dean, Brody School of Medicine, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, East Carolina University

Meherrin Regional Library COVID-19 Update

At the recommendation of state and local authorities and the American Library Association, both branches of the Meherrin Regional Library System will be closed to the public until April 1, 2020. Due dates for materials currently checked out will be extended and accounts with fines will be temporarily unblocked to allow all patrons access to the eBook service OverDrive. Please keep items at home during this time, particularly if you are ill. The Library would like to thank its patrons for their patience during this time. Please call 434-848-2418 ext. 301 (Lawrenceville) or 434-634-2539 (Emporia) with any questions, or visit the Library’s website at www.meherrinlib.org to check out eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines digitally. The Library’s website and Facebook page will be updated with information and resources as circumstances change.

COVID - 19 Update from Southside Virginia Community College

In these difficult and unprecedented times, I write to share decisions Southside Virginia Community College is taking based on recommendations from the Governor's Office, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Virginia Community College System, in response to COVID-19.

Alternative Means of  Instruction

For the remainder of the Spring semester, our SVCC faculty and staff are working with our students transitioning to alternative modes of instruction while maintaining our standards of educational excellence.  

College Facilities

Effective March 23rd, all SVCC facilities will be closed to the public until further notice.  

SVCC Sponsored Events/Commencement/Graduation Ceremony 

We deeply regret that following the CDC guidelines, is requiring that we cancel many of our upcoming events including our commencement/graduation ceremony.  Commencement/graduation is our most exciting event as it is a celebration of our students and their accomplishments. The Class of 2020 will always be special as we look back and remember their ability to be flexible, work hard, and complete your spring semester.  

For an up-to-date list of SVCC events and their status please refer to our COVID-19 information page at southside.edu.

SVCC is OPEN----Virtually

Be assured, SVCC is open---Virtually!  Faculty and staff are communicating and assisting students to complete class requirements for our spring semester.  Our student services staff is accommodating all students by phone, internet, text messaging, and our website in order to answer any questions, alleviate concerns and to assist with summer registration.  

Updates and general college communications are posted on the COVID-19 alert at southside.edu.  Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. Telephone contacts are included in the COVID-19 alert on southside.edu.

The Improvement Association offices will be closed until further notice

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT

Due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 epidemic, The Improvement Association offices will be closed until further notice.  However, The Improvement Association is committed to continuing its services to families, children and senior citizens who are in need.

The Improvement Association’s staff will be conducting telework as well as volunteering in the communities throughout our service areas in delivering meals, educational work plans, etc. to prevent a severe break in services.

Additionally, since senior citizens are an at-risk population, The Improvement Association Board of Directors has allocated funding to assist senior citizens with food, toiletries, etc. until all resources have been exhausted.    If you are a senior citizen (60 and older) in need of services, please call the following numbers:

Community Services Coordinator:         434-637-3038

Executive Director:                                   804-943-3417

You may also visit our website at www.impassoc.org to complete a Service Request Form.

Comcast Increases Access to and Speeds of Internet Essentials to Support Americans Through Coronavirus Pandemic

By Dana Strong

As our country continues to manage the COVID-19 emergency, we recognize that our company plays an important role in helping our customers stay connected – to their families, their workplaces, their schools, and the latest information about the virus – through the Internet.

We also know that for millions of low-income Americans who don’t have Internet service at home, this uncertain time is going to be even more difficult to manage. As schools and businesses close and families are encouraged, or even mandated, to stay home, Internet connectivity becomes even more important.

At Comcast, we’ve been looking for ways to help through our Internet Essentials program, which is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income Americans. Since 2011, it has connected millions of individuals to the Internet.

A hallmark of this program has been our flexibility in adjusting Internet Essentials to meet the needs of low-income residents in our footprint. So, effective Monday, we are putting in place two substantial program enhancements to help these families deal with this crisis.

  1. We will make it even easier for low-income families who live in a Comcast service area to sign up by offering new customers 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month.

  2. Also, we are increasing Internet speeds for the Internet Essentials service from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers, which will be the speed of the service going forward. In this way, we will ensure that Internet Essentials customers will be able to use their Internet service for all their increased needs as a result of this health crisis.

We want to make it as fast and simple as possible to access this service: 

  • To receive the increased Internet speeds, existing customers will not need to do anything. The new speeds will be rolled out nationally over the next few days.

  • We’ll send all new customers a free self-install kit that includes a cable modem with a Wi-Fi router. There will be no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee.

  • To sign up, applicants can simply visit www.internetessentials.com. The accessible website also includes the option to video chat with customer service agents in American Sign Language. There are also two dedicated phone numbers 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.

We’re also reaching out to our thousands of governmental and nonprofit partners to help us spread the word. Our hope is that broader access and faster speeds will help all of our Internet Essentials customers more easily work from home, access educational resources, obtain important government health care alerts, and stay in contact with their families during this difficult time.

 

Southside Virginia Community College Releases COVID-19 Plan

In an effort to protect the College community and to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19, its spread, and the potential strain on area hospitals and clinics, SVCC will be taking the actions outlined below.  Any guidance we pass along will be interim in nature, using the best information available to us at the moment. As noted in previous communications, we are relying on the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other state and local departments for expert guidance. Southside Virginia Community College is taking the following actions:

  • Classes at all locations are cancelled Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20th. All classes will resume through virtual or alternative delivery starting on Monday, March 23, 2020, and continue until at least Friday, April 3, 2020. Students should check Canvas or contact their professors for class information. Students are expected to check their SVCC email accounts regularly for updates.  Further clarification will be provided next week regarding class delivery after April 3.

    • College operations will be suspended at the following off-campus centers, however employees should report as usual:

      • Estes Community Center--Chase City

      • Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center--South Hill 

      • Southside Virginia Education Center--Emporia

      • Occupational/Technical Center--Blackstone

  • Governor’s School will transition to virtual classes only. The Governor’s School Director will contact all school faculty, staff, students, and school divisions. 

  • All College personnel (Classified Staff, Administrative and Professional Faculty, and Wage Personnel) are expected to report to work on Monday, March 16, 2020 as scheduled, unless on approved leave.

  • All faculty should join a college-wide faculty meeting on Monday, March 16 at 3PM.  Separate email correspondence and Zoom invitation will be forthcoming. 

  • All campus events--both college sponsored and those by outside organizations are cancelled through Saturday, April 4, 2020.

  • Work travel for all College employees is limited to the service area only through Friday, April 3, 2020. 

  • All college-sponsored group travel scheduled through Friday, April 3, 2020 is postponed until further notice. 

  • College services on the John H. Daniel Campus and the Christanna Campus will remain open (Monday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

  • College services are also accessible online via MySVCC and Navigate.

  • The John H. Daniel Campus and the Christanna Campus will be closed to facilitate extensive sanitizing and cleaning on Friday, March 20 and 27 and Friday, April 3, 2020. Employees should not report to work these days.

This situation is fluid. College administration is actively monitoring conditions for further developments and responding accordingly. SVCC will provide daily updates at www.southside.edu. SVCC’s Emergency Operation Plan is available on the College website.

Consistent with CDC guidelines, students, faculty and staff returning from travel to any country for which the CDC has issued a Level 2 or 3 Travel Warning related to COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

 

Southside’s Leadership Team is continuing to monitor the situation closely and will keep you informed via email, Southside Alert, our website, and social media outlets if there are additional changes to SVCC operations. 

 

For additional information visit http://southside.edu/covid-19

PRICE GOUGING PROTECTIONS IN EFFECT AS STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED OVER CORONAVIRUS

~ Anti-price gouging statute was activated upon Governor Northam’s declaration of state of emergency; covers items and services such as water, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicines, personal protective gear, and more ~

RICHMOND(March 12, 2020) – As public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus continue to grow, Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency has triggered Virginia's anti-price gouging statutes designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessary goods and services during an emergency.
 
“When you’re trying to make sure that you and your family have all the necessities in order to protect yourselves against illness, the last thing you want to deal with is a scam or exorbitant price for a needed service or product. The sad reality is that there are unscrupulous folks out there who will take advantage of public health crises in order to make more money,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginia law offers protections for folks who find themselves in need of things like medicines, cleaning products, hand sanitizers and other necessities during a public health crisis. I would encourage all Virginians to pay attention to any prices that seem too high, and contact my office as soon as possible if you think someone may be illegally overcharging for necessary goods or running a scam.”
 
Enacted in 2004, Virginia's Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty-day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicines, personal protective gear and more. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.
 
Suspected violations of Virginia's Anti-Price Gouging Act should be reported to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
 
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for information or to file a complaint:
 
Additionally, Attorney General Herring has warned Virginians to be wary of scams related to the coronavirus. Below are some tips and ways to protect yourself from coronavirus scams:
  •  Look out for emails that claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that they have information about the coronavirus. For the most updated information you can visit the CDC and the World Health Organization websites.
  • Do not click on any links from unknown sources. This could lead to downloading a virus on your computer or phone.
  • Ignore any offers, online or otherwise, for a coronavirus vaccine. If you see any advertisements for prevention, treatment or cures ask the question: if there had been a cure for the disease would you be hearing about that through an advertisement or sales pitch?
  • Thoroughly research any organizations or charities purporting to be raising funds for victims of the coronavirus.
  • Look out for “investment opportunities” surrounding the coronavirus. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission there are online promotions claiming the products or services of certain publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure the disease and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase because of that.
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