Just like the rest of the United States and many nations around the world, Appomattox County officials have been faced with the task of making decisions — and complying with government orders — that they believe are in the best interest of its citizens due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The World Health Organization officially declared the virus a pandemic on March 11. United States President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus as a national emergency two days later on March 13.
On Monday, the Virginia Department of Health and the Peninsula Health District confirmed the state’s second death due to coronavirus — both were males in their 70s who died of respiratory failure caused by the virus. The sources of their contraction of the virus are unknown.
During a Sunday afternoon teleconference, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam banned public gatherings of more than 100 people. On Friday, Northam ordered all Virginia schools, kindergarten through 12th grade, be closed for at least two weeks.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended Sunday that large gatherings and events be limited to a maximum of 50 people for the next eight weeks. The CDC announcement describes large gatherings as “conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.”
Also on Friday, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) announced a minimum two-week delay to the start of spring sports in all its schools.
Appomattox County does not have any reports of coronavirus cases, but many changes have been made in accordance with these ordinances. One case was reported Thursday in neighboring Prince Edward County.
Appomattox County Public Schools Superintendent Annette Bennett announced Friday that classes in the school district are closed through at least March 27, per the governor’s orders. Learning packets have been prepared for the students to “maintain continuity of instruction during this statewide closure,” according to an announcement on the district’s webpage.
The Appomattox Raiders spring sports teams, some of which were to begin regular season games Monday, must wait until March 30 to take the field unless the VHSL further delays the start of the season.
Following is a list of other Appomattox County closings, delays or restrictions that have been reported to the Times Virginian as of press time:
• The County Administration office has restricted visitors to the lobby area as staff members are available to call by telephone from the lobby. There is a telephone in the lobby; for assistance, dial 2500. People who are sick or show symptoms associated with the common cold, flu or coronavirus are asked not to enter the office and may be asked to vacate the building if they enter.
• The Appomattox County Board of Supervisors is limiting attendance for its meetings at a maximum of 50 over the next eight weeks and asks that people who are ill or showing symptoms not attend.
• The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park on Tuesday canceled the 155th Surrender Anniversary Commemoration scheduled for April 8-12 and closed all park buildings until further notice. The grounds, trails, and restrooms will remain open.
• The Appomattox Civil War Museum closed Monday and plans to reopen Saturday, March 28, as of now.
• The Appomattox County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is closed to all outside personnel for the remainder of this week. The office will be staffed and open, but will be conducting business via email and phone for answering questions and trial preparation.
• All 75 DMV customer service centers are closed and all mobile services postponed as of today until April 2. This would include the Appomattox DMV Select Office.
• The Virginia Community College System has canceled commencement exercises for all 23 state community colleges, including Central Virginia Community College, which has an Appomattox campus.
• The Visitors Center at the Historic Depot on Main Street has been closed by the Town of Appomattox until further notice.
• The Appomattox Health & Rehabilitation Center is temporarily restricting all visitation but is providing electronic options for virtual visitation until the restrictions are lifted at a future date. In cases that necessitate a personal visit, screenings will be conducted to ensure safety.
• The Appomattox County Republican Committee Executive Board canceled its Mass Meeting on March 23 and Citizens’ Town Hall on April 4.
• “A Matter of Balance” classes at Grace Hills Baptist Church for the month of April have been canceled.
• The Appomattox County Historical Society has cancelled its monthly meetings and postponed its April 18 Appomattox Oyster & Seafood Festival, the opening of the Old Jail Museum in Courthouse Square and the Clover Hill Village Living History Center on River Ridge Road.
• The Kiddie Park on Hunter Street and Abbitt Park on Main Street have been closed by the Town of Appomattox until further notice.
• A number of area churches have canceled or altered worship services and activities. Several notices will be found in the Church News section of the Times Virginian. Otherwise, readers may contact their place of worship for information.
As of Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health reported 67 cases of coronavirus in the state, with the large majority in the northeastern and coastal regions.
Centra Health is currently offering free lab testing for the coronavirus for those who have symptoms and meet their criteria for testing. Call the Centra Coronavirus care line at (434) 200-1225 for more information.
Throughout the week, the Times Virginian is announcing important local updates as provided on its website at www.timesvirginian.com. For further information on the coronavirus in Virginia, visit the Virginia Department of Health web page at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/surveillance-and-investigation/novel-coronavirus.
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