How Will Virginia Enforce Its Stay-at-Home Order to Combat Wuhan Coronavirus Spread?

Posted: Mar 30, 2020 3:05 PM
How Will Virginia Enforce Its Stay-at-Home Order to Combat Wuhan Coronavirus Spread?

Source: AP Photo/Steve Helber

Well, it’s official. Virginia is on lockdown. It already unofficially was, but now Gov. Ralph Northam has made it an official order. It is in effect until Jun 10 or unless otherwise amended. There is still a ban on outdoor gatherings of 10 people or more. Gov. Northam said trips to the bank, the grocery store, medical assistance, or seeking emergency help were the only reasons why one should go outside. He urges Virginians to do their part in helping the state contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. As for enforcement, it was a waffled answer. Those violating the 10 people or more rule at public gatherings could be facing class I misdemeanor charges. The penalty for violating that public gathering order is still the same as well, $2,500 fine and possibly up to a year in jail. Overall, there isn't much to Virginia's order in terms of enforcement because it's not a criminal offense. Now, violators of the public gathering order in Virginia could see 

In Maryland, it’s a crime that comes with a $5,000 fine and/or up-to a year in jail.

Northam said his administration has been working hard to get ahead of the possible impact of the virus, noting as of now, Virginia has 18,500 beds available, including 2,000 for ICU care. 

An old dormitory at Virginia Commonwealth University will be used to treat those infected with the Wuhan virus, but do not need ICU treatment. A field hospital will be established at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

On a related issue, the American Civil Liberties Union, for once, has a good question concerning how the criminal justice and law enforcement agencies will work to contain the spread of this disease (via Richmond Times-Dispatch):

The ACLU of Virginia is urging Gov. Ralph Northam to issue “executive guidance” for local governments, law enforcement agencies, jails and prisons to assure a coordinated statewide response to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“A decisive, swift, coordinated, and uniform statewide response by all stakeholders in the criminal legal system is needed to save lives and protect incarcerated people, staff, and the public at large from the threats posed by COVID-19,” says the letter from Claire G. Gastañaga, the organization’s executive director.

Brian Moran, secretary of public safety and homeland security, wrote in an email that he needs to review the ACLU material before directly responding to it.

Details are subject to change, but it sounds like more teeth should be applied to this executive order, which went into effect immediately.