COVID-19 cases rise to 254, state revenue losses could top $1 billion, grocer hiring spike, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Virginia recorded its seventh death from COVID-19—a Virginia Beach man in his 70s. A total of 254 people have now tested positive for the virus, and 38 people are hospitalized.—The Virginian-Pilot

• “Virginia’s top finance official says the state is likely to lose $1 billion in revenue in each year of the pending two-year budget — and that’s the best scenario, assuming significant aid from the federal government for workers and business owners who have lost their livelihoods because of the coronavirus pandemic.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Which industries are essential and non-essential in the statewide lockdown?—Richmond BizSense

• Residents in at least 16 states have been asked to stay at home to prevent the virus’ spread.—The New York Times

• With schools closed for the rest of the year, high school sports leagues have followed, cancelling the remainder of their seasons. Athletes said they’re crushed. “I went on a drive and cried.”—The Roanoke Times

• Liberty University appears to be the only college in the state allowing students to return from spring break. University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said he expects as many as 5,000 to live in dorms, where they’ll complete online coursework. Professors without “a valid health exemption” will be required to hold office hours.—The News & Advance

• Grocery chains like Publix and Kroger and big-box stores like Walmart and Target say they’re hiring thousands to fill positions in stores and distribution centers amid a crush of consumer demand.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Resources for people struggling to make ends meet range from up to $500 in cash from local charities to loans and grants for small businesses.—The Virginian-Pilot

• Cavalier Produce, a major supplier of restaurants and institutions that have now gone dark, said it will start selling directly to customers. “A lot of people want to eat healthy but are fearful of going into grocery stores, so we are offering them curbside pickup of produce.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Domestic violence counselors say they’re preparing for an uptick in cases as families shut in together—an effect they also observe during snowstorms and other emergencies. They say they remain prepared to offer shelter.—The Roanoke Times

• The Department of Corrections has begun using inmate labor to produce non-medical-grade fabric masks it’s billing as “sneeze/cough guards” for use by inmates and staff.—Culpeper Star-Exponent

• And people are stitching surgical masks at home for hospitals, but at least one Virginia hospital chain, Sentara, isn’t sure it can use them. “In order for these masks to have the needed antimicrobial properties, they have to be sewn to meet certain criteria and unique specifications.” Other hospitals, including Bon Secours, say they’re happy to accept the donations.—The Virginian-Pilot

Sign up here to get these headlines and the Mercury’s original reporting delivered to your inbox daily in News to Know, our free n