Four more Virginia residents have died of complications from coronavirus, according to the state's epidemiologist and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
During a news conference in Richmond on Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Lilian Peake, the epidemiologist, announced that two additional deaths were reported in the Peninsula Health District, in the southeastern portion of Virginia, and one in the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District in southern Virginia.
In all, 13 Virginians have died from the disease since the pandemic began earlier this month. The Peninsula District has had the most deaths, seven, while Northern Virginia has had only one, in Fairfax - a Department of Defense contractor who worked in Crystal City.
The total number of cases in the state is up to 391, based on figures reported Wednesday. Of those, 59 people are hospitalized.
Also during the news conference Wednesday, Peake and Gov. Ralph Northam said the number of cases will continue to increase statewide - in part because more tests are being conducted but also because the disease is now clearly being spread from person to person within the community.
Northam and other state officials addressed several questions regarding the situation at the Henrico nursing home, where 14 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed and three patients have now died. Another 20 residents and health-care workers are awaiting test results. Peake said the state is working to identify the cause of the outbreak and how it spread so rapidly.
Northam also implored Liberty University officials to reconsider their decision to invite students back to campus, even though classes are being conducted online. He suggested the school in Lynchburg should follow the lead of the state's major universities, all of which have closed or are closing their residence halls. In response to a question, however, he said he does not have the authority to order Liberty, a private school, to close.