Accomack Sees Five New Cases of COVID-19, Bringing Shore Total to 24


By Connie Morrison —

As the Accomack County Board of Supervisors closed out its monthly meeting Wednesday night, April 15, Supervisor Donald Hart gave them some breaking news: “While we’ve been at this meeting, I just was notified that we’ve had five new cases of the coronavirus today in Accomack County.”

A check of the Virginia Department of Health’s online data portal showed four new cases in Accomack County as of 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

Jon Richardson, chief operating officer for the Eastern Shore Health District, said the district found out about another case last night and that case has not yet been entered into the online data. “That’s the reason for the discrepancy,” he said.

The new cases bring Accomack County’s cumulative number of COVID-19 cases to 20, with Northampton County holding steady at four cases.

The surge in new cases on the Shore came the same day that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a two-week extension — until May 8 — on the closure of nonessential businesses, including the restaurants and bars (except for takeout and delivery), recreation and entertainment businesses, and personal care services. The order also bans gatherings of more than 10 people.

Health data will continue to be monitored in the meantime to determine what needs to happen after that.

The stay-at-home order remains in place until June 10.

“I want everyone to know the sacrifices that you have made are necessary and they are helping,” Northam said. “They are slowing the spread.”

Virginians should adjust their expectations, he said. “Things are not going back exactly like they were before,” he said. “Together we will figure out how to build a new normal,” which will probably include face coverings, spending more time at home, teleworking, continued social distancing, and staying away from large gatherings.

Acknowledging that Virginia has a low testing rate — Johns Hopkins University’s data dashboard shows the commonwealth with the second-lowest testing rate in the nation — Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey said, “That is something we are addressing. We are trying to understand: How do we optimize the capacity we have, whether it’s in the state lab, academic labs, as well as in commercial labs.”

He added that many providers are presuming symptomatic patients have COVID-19 and treating them accordingly without having them tested, but “from an epidemiological standpoint, there are many advantages to having people tested,” Carey said.

Virginia has focused additional testing capacity on those who are hospitalized, healthcare workers with symptoms, and residents of long-term care facilities.

Testing serves a dual purpose: outbreak intervention and public health surveillance to make sure the resources are in the right places at the right times.

“What we are evaluating now is how we … broaden that testing criteria with our clinical community so that we can have more testing and a better sense of where this is happening,” said Carey. “Clearly we need more testing here in Virginia.”

Northam and Carey have issued a call for medical and nonmedical volunteers for the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps to support hospitals and long-term care facilities in the surge of cases expected in the next few weeks. An estimated 30,000 volunteers will be needed, and the governor and the VMRC are working with universities to recruit students, especially those enrolled in medical and nursing programs.

To volunteer for the medical reserve corps, go to

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