Virginia Legislators to Convene in Tent, Museum to Prevent Coronavirus Spread

Here’s where we are Wednesday in the fight against coronavirus in the D.C. area

Tent for Virginia lawmakers
AP Photo/Steve Helber

Virginia lawmakers will hold a legislative session on Wednesday unlike any other in the state’s 400-year history. 

As they grapple with how to handle fallout from the coronavirus, House Delegates plan to meet under a canopy outside the Capitol, while the Senate will meet in an event space at the Virginia Science Museum a couple of miles away. 

Lawmakers will be seated far apart and were asked to wear masks and no germ-carrying ties to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

A Senate voting device is set up by Virginia Senate staff on April 20, 2020 at the temporary site where the Virginia Senate will meet for the reconvene session at the Science Museum in Richmond, Virginia.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Here’s where we are Wednesday in the fight against coronavirus in the D.C. area. 

As of this morning, 26,412 cases of coronavirus had been diagnosed in the region. D.C. had reported 3,098 cases, Maryland had 13,684 and Virginia had 9,630 including probable cases. At least 1,020 people have died. Go here for full details

Despite the stay-at-home orders in effect, hundreds of people have been arrested in the past month in the D.C. area for driving drunk. Though DUI arrests have dropped compared with the same period in 2019, drunken driving persists, to the surprise and frustration of law enforcement.

In the past four weeks, D.C. police arrested at least 52 drunken drivers, according to police reports. In Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Fairfax County, each police department has arrested approximately 40 drunk drivers. The arrests include a driver who crashed on I-270 before 10 a.m. Monday.

“People still have access and are engaging in self-medication during this troubling time,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski. “And some of those people are choosing to go back out on our roads.”

The News4 I-Team found one big danger remains on the roads during the coronavirus pandemic. Scott MacFarlane reports the stay-at-home orders aren’t keeping some people from drinking and driving and getting caught.

More than 400 employees of the Inova Health System in Virginia will be laid off as hospitals grapple with lost revenue and the high costs of addressing the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the people laid off are in what the health system described as non-clinical, management positions.

Even with extra funding, many hospitals are having a hard time. Inova Health is laying off more than 400 of its employees. News4's Jackie Bensen explains which employees are impacted and the tough decision to let them go.

Families with loved ones in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are clamoring for information on virus cases, and information released publicly is spotty. The News4 I-Team is gathering information on cases and deaths.

Families with elderly loved ones living in long-term care facilities have been clamoring for information. The federal government announced this week new rules saying residents and their families must be told, but what about the general public? Jodie Fleischer and the News4 I-Team are working for you as leaders are refusing to release those locations.

And now something a little cheerful: Business is booming at a sewing machine repair shop in Alexandria. Sun Sew Vac, a family-run business, has a two-week backlog on repairs and they’re having trouble keeping new sewing machines in stock. Customers want to make masks. 

For more than 45 years, an Alexandria, Virginia, repair shop has been thriving. The owner was about to retire when the pandemic hit, but now demand for sewing masks is booming. News4’s Pat Collins reports being busy is better than being out of work.

D.C.’s mayor will address the public at 11 a.m. She’s set to speak about unemployment insurance. The Prince George’s County executive is set to speak at 1 p.m. about the county’s work to address food insecurity. 

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