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Politifact Virginia: Is Virginia's Lockdown Order the Longest in the Nation?

Woman speaking at podium
State Senator Amanda Chase has criticized the timeline for Governor Northam's stay at home order, suggesting that it's designed to interfere with Republican nominating conventions. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

CRAIG: Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has issued a stay-at-home order until June 10th, and that’s not sitting well with some Republicans.

The reason is that the order expires one day after a June 9th Republican primary will be held to nominate an opponent this fall for U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat.

The order could also affect a number of regional Republican conventions and primaries this spring to nominate congressional candidates to take on Democratic incumbents.

Northam is saying he wants the nominations to take place regardless of the stay-at-home order. 

But he’s urging the parties to encourage mail-in ballots and drive-up voting instead of asking people to go to crowded conventions and polls.

Republicans say that would dampen turnout and deprive their candidates of a chance to rally their bases. 

Among the critics is state Senator Amanda Chase, a Chesterfield County Republican. 

During an April 1st radio interview on the John Fredericks Show, she called Norttham “calculating,” and said no other state has set its stay-at-home order to last as long. 

Here are her words:

Play tape (1:45 mark): “Why is it that Virginia is the only state in the United States that has picked a date that far out in June?” 

Warren, you checked her statement that we’re last. What did you find?

WARREN: As we talk, governors in 41 states have stay-at-home orders and the number’s been going up.

And at June 10th, Virginia has the latest specific end-date. The next closest is Delaware, and it’s end-date is scheduled May 15th - almost a month earlier.

So Chase’s statement is based on fact., but there are some caveats.

CRAIG: Do tell. 

WARREN: Not all of the 41 states with stay-at-home orders have end dates. Of the 34 that do, Virginia’s comes last. 

But it should be noted that in most of these 34 states, the governors say in their orders that the end-dates could be extended or shortened. That includes Virginia.

And even those governors who didn’t reserve the right to extend their end-dates still have the power to do so.

CRAIG:  In other words, these end-dates are elastic.

WARREN: Right. And another thing: Seven states have stay-at-home orders that don’t set a specific end date. 

These governors say they’ll end their orders when COVID-19 ceases to be a health threat. So it’s possible these open-ended orders could last longer than Northam’s.

CRAIG: Why did Northam set the end-date on June 10th?

WARREN: He says it’s based on science and data.

The state, as we speak, hasn’t released it’s own projections of when the coronavirus will peak in Virginia. The governor says the state needs to gather a little more data before he does that. 

But the University of Washington has been issuing widely-cited projections for each state. 

At the time Northam signed his executive order - through the end of last week - Virginia was projected to hit its peak in late May - later than all states but Missouri. 

So that sort of jibes with Virginia’s late end-date.

But things are changing as we speak,   and I just saw the University has moved up  Virginia’s peak a full month to April 20th.

Northam is playing that down, but it shows how things can change.

CRAIG: OK. Let’s go back to Chase. She said no state has a later end-date for it’s stay-at-home order than Virginia. What do you rate that?

WARREN:  Of the 41 states where governors have signed stay-at-home orders, Virginia does have the latest set end date - June 10th. But there are asterisks to that. 

Seven of those states have no specified end-dates, meaning they could extend beyond June 10th.

And the governors in the other states have the power to extend the end-dates they’ve currently set if the disease remains a threat.

So we rate Chase’s statement Mostly True.