- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday asked Liberty University to reconsider its message of welcoming students back to campus during a coronavirus pandemic, as he reminded all state residents to stay home.

“Stay home unless you have to leave for essential reasons,” the Democratic governor said at a press conference. “We appreciate our colleges and universities making accommodations for students with special cases, but that is very different from inviting students to leave their home and come back campus.”

Although it transitioned all of its classes to online, Liberty University was still welcoming back students from spring break this week; more than 1,000 students were back on campus as of Tuesday.

“As we are told in First Corinthians, it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful, proving faithful is providing clear and consistent guidance, and it means respecting the duty Liberty University has to its students, its staff and the Lynchburg community, where it is located,” Mr. Northam said.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. told Alisyn Camerota of CNN’s “New Day” that “Liberty did not reopen. Liberty has between 1,000 and 2,000 students on a campus built for 15,500 and almost a thousand are international students who have nowhere else to go.”



He said, “Others have no place else to be except in their dorms.”

In addition to encouraging residents to stay home, Mr. Northam announced closures of campgrounds at state parks, making them available for daytime use only.

The Virginia governor is issuing an executive order to cancel all nonelective surgeries.

Mr. Northam also put into perspective the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and masks, that health care professionals go through in one day.

He said intensive care unit patients have about 10 doctors, each doctor needs to change their PPE each time they visit a different patient. If there are 40 ICU patients and doctors are seeing patients around the clock, it starts to add up, the governor said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the region has recorded 15 deaths and close to 1,000 positive cases of COVID-19, with 183 in the District of Columbia, 391 in Virginia and 349 in Maryland.

Many people are working from home, but restaurants and bars are staying open for carryout and delivery service only. All other public-facing, nonessential businesses and facilities, such as movie theaters, museums, public playgrounds and parks, gyms, events and concert venues and personal care businesses, are being forced to close in an effort to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has extended the public health emergency to at least April 25, meaning the ban on mass gatherings of 10 people or more will last until then, and schools, restaurants and bars, public playgrounds, libraries and many nonessential businesses will remain closed until then.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has placed an indefinite ban on mass gatherings of 10 people or more, he ordered all nonessential businesses to close, and he postponed the April 28 primary election. Schools are to be closed at least until April 24, he said.

Mr. Northam ordered the closure of schools until the end of the academic year and ordered the closure of the aforementioned nonessential businesses for at least a month. He also banned mass gatherings of 10 people or more.

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