Since the coronavirus pandemic and fears of its spread hit, Danville resident Willie Carter has been hunkered down at home watching TV and taking walks.
“It is real bad, but what can you do?” Carter said as he strolled past West Main Baptist Church toward Ballou Park on Monday afternoon.
Earlier that afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statewide stay-at-home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The order, which took effect immediately, directs all state residents to remain home except in such limited circumstance as seeking medical attention, going to work, caring for family or household members and buying items and services such as groceries and prescriptions, according to a news release from the governor’s office Monday. It lasts through June 10.
It also allows residents to engage in outdoors activity while sticking to social distancing requirements.
Another West Main Street walker, Harriet Beale, said she had already been abiding by previous state recommendations to stay inside and venture out for only critically important activities.
“I’m just going to do what I’ve been asked to do,” she said while taking a walk with her adult daughter, Kathryn Beale. “We’ve been trying to do what they’re doing in other places.”
The isolation, however, is putting a damper on her social life.
“I certainly do miss seeing friends and family,” Harriet Beale said before heading in the direction of Averett University on West Main.
Downtown, Sentorita Lee waited for the city bus in front of the Danville Public Schools Administration building near South Market Street on Main Street. She was heading home after work.
“You’ve got to go to work,” she said just before crossing Main Street to catch the bus that had pulled up across from the school administration building. “That’s the only way you get your bills paid.”
Julianne Settle, who was taking a break to get some fresh air on South Market Street near Patton Street, agreed with the governor’s order.
“Unfortunately, it’s what needs to be done,” said Settle, a paralegal with Cox Law Group on South Market Street.
She and her family had been taking precautions before Northam’s order.
“If we have to go to the store, it’s just my husband or me,” she said. “We’re not taking the whole family.”
Settle expressed disappointment at people who have disregarded public health by congregating in groups.
“It’s just so sad it came down to this,” she said. “I guess people don’t understand.”
Over on Patton Street, 70-year-old Thomas Davis walked his tan, 4-year-old Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix, Willie, in front of the Ruby B. Archie Public Library parking lot.
He said he approved of Northam’s order.
“I feel good about it,” he said. “I think it’s right.”
As a person over 60, Davis is in a vulnerable age group that can experience serious medical issues if he catches it.
“You just don’t know when it might hit you,” he said.
You can never be careful enough, he said, no matter what precautions you take. Someone could contract the disease handling grocery items that an infected employee or customer touched, he added, or from a gas pump previously used by a stricken person.
“You’re still in it,” despite taking all the precautions, Carter said.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.